Find the Balance as a Work at Home Mom

First let me start by saying that I NEVER, like EVER, in my life thought I'd be a work at home Mom.  I'll be honest, I use to think stay at home Mom's did nothing (I blame Peggy Bundy) and then add to that what I use to think of someone who worked at know, conference calls in their pj's.  Well, I am here to say I was WRONG!!!

I use to work in the corporate world and some days I wish myself back there.  Like, I said, this whole stay at home parent thing was never on my radar.  However, shortly after my daughter was born my husband and I sort of decided we wanted our kid (now kids) to have a different childhood than we did.  Not that ours wasn't a good one but we wanted at least one of us to physically be there as much as possible.

After encouragement from friends, I decided to put myself out there as a photographer.  Partly because I had this sense of guilt over no longer bringing in an income and partly because I needed an outlet.  This journey over the last few years has taught me a lot of things but the most important lesson was that I would get no where without finding BALANCE.

For a long while I felt like I was stuck on a tilt a whirl.  Literally, everything was spinning round and round, always going in a circle, but never going anywhere.  It was depressing, frustrating, and I overall felt like a failure.  I was trying to be the perfect stay at home Mom and the best small business owner all at once.  I was missing that balance between them.  Neither should have to suffer for sake of the other BUT there had to be a time for everything.  

I've learned that some days my inbox will be clear and my sink will be full or that my house will get cleaned but laptop will stay shut.  I've learned that these things are OK and I've found some great tools that help me stay on track.  Here are just some tips/tools that I use to help me maintain balance.

  1.  Get a Good Planner - I've tried target planner's and the coveted  Erin Condren planner but I'm not someone who utilizes the daily planning sections so I always felt like I was wasting so many pages of my planner.  Last year I stumbled on the Plum Paper Planner's and I absolutely love how customizable they are.  You can start them in whatever month you want, you can change the cover to match your brand, and the part that sold me...4 different weekly spread options.  So I was able to swap out those daily pages with extra note pages instead.  Did I also mention they make regular planners, family planners, wedding planners, teacher planners... SO MANY options. If I didn't have my planner I would lose track of my whole would be ugly...I don't recommend it.
  2. Notepads - I have to have to do lists to keep track of my daily.  Luckily my planner has plenty of note pages so I don't have to carry around an extra notepad but I do love to carry around sticky notes.  They are great for reminders or to have on hand during phone calls for quick notes.
  3. Art Supplies  - If you follow me on instagram you may have already seen my post about art supplies.  No there aren't for me BUT they are great for keeping kids busy while I work.  I like to grab out a few things at least once a day and set up a station.  Today I did a painting station.  It gets set up once and my son can paint as he wants, in between periods of play.  He doesn't need my help and he can just come and go.  It makes it so nice to just have it there ready for him when he gets bored.  I use one of those behind the door shoe organizers to keep ours organized.  I put the things I want them to have access to on the bottom and things I don't further on the top.
  4. Crockpot- If you don't have one, get one.  Sometimes when I know I have a heavy workload or a busy day ahead I will throw dinner in the crockpot and just let it do it's thing while I work.  It especially helps during the school year when our schedule is a bit busier.  Sitting down as a family for dinner is very important to me, as is providing my family with home cooked meals.  This doesn't mean I want to spend all day preparing the meal though....seriously who has time for at home, stay at home, work out of the home, etc.?!?!
  5. Be Flexible - This isn't a physical tool but I can't stress enough just how important it is to stay flexible.  As any Mom or Parent knows plans rarely go exactly as anticipated.  My "office hours" always vary just depending on our daily schedule.  Sometimes I get to work at my kitchen table which is my preferred space.  There is a lot of natural light available, lots of space to spread out, and it's sort of central to the house so I can hear/see the kids.  This doesn't mean that I won't take the opportunity to edit while sitting at dance or gymnastics, that I won't answer emails while waiting at parent pick up.  When I transitioned from a 9-5 I struggled with being flexible.  I wanted to sit and work and not be bothered <---when is a Mom ever not being bothered hahahaha.  
  6.  Let Go/Say No- Seriously as someone who can tend to be a people pleaser this was HARD.  I had to learn to let go so I wasn't always trying to have everything be perfect all at once.  It is impossible to be two people at once so I am either in the moment as Mom or in the moment as the just simply can't be both.  I also have to say NO...NO NO NO sometimes.  I often work on the weekends and this means I can't always be at every family gathering and I can't make myself feel guilty about that.  I also need to be present as a Mom to my children, so NO I can't respond to texts, emails, phone calls 24-7.  I have the notifications turned off on all of my social media apps so that I don't feel obligated to respond to people as soon as they comment, message, etc.  It can be exhausting, it will burn you out, and it takes away from my time with my kids.  When I'm working they know they need to busy themselves so when I'm not working I know I need to be present.  It's just that simple and REALLY, REALLY hard to do sometimes.
  7. Pandora for Me/Netflix for Them- Let's be real...sometimes to get things done I put on Netflix to distract them and get them to JUST SIT for a bit.  While I do that for them I put on pandora for helps me stay focused while drowning out whatever obnoxious cartoon they are watching ;)
  8. UNPLUG - It's the nature of the beast.  My business and social media go hand and hand.  To market, connect, and conduct business I have to be plugged in to many forms of social media daily.  Some of them I really love (Instagram anyone!!!) and some of them I really love to hate (um suck for businesses...just sayin')  I make myself unplug two times a year; vacation and at Christmas.  When I'm on vacation I try to avoid social media all together but during Christmas I want to see what my friends and family are up to so I normally just announce that I will be taking time off  and resuming business after the holidays so I can get online without feeling guilty or obligated to post/respond.  If you really struggle with unplugging then delete the apps temporarily or do what we do and head for the hills....literally we vacation in mountains where we have no service.  It's wonderful!!!
I realize that these may not all work for everyone but I hope you were able to take something away from what I have learned from my own mistakes.  I'll be posting a few more detailed posts soon.  My next one will be about how I make time to provide my son with school/educational time.  I always keep in mind that I am home to be present with my kids/to give them quality time.  My Son will start preschool next year but I like to still do a bit of school time.  I did the same with my daughter and it really helped her be ready for school.  We don't do a formal homeschool format but we have fun, he learns and we both enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!! Please forgive all run on sentences, grammatical errors, etc.  I'm a photographer...I'm visual not literal :)  If you're on Instagram follow me...there is a link to follow on the right of my page or leave your user name below and I'll find ya!!  Till next time!!

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