Ok folks, we’re back at it with part two of learning how to balance motherhood and business for creative entrepreneurs and work-at-home moms. Let’s cut the small talk (ain't nobody got time for that), and get right to the last 3 tips for mompreneurs. Plus, for all you art lovers, I've got a FREE art print for you to download of one of my favorite quotes. Ok, here goes . . .
Get a babysitter and don’t feel guilty about it
If your office hours include nap times, you know as soon as that baby’s eye lids close, the clock is ticking. You’re cramming as many to dos as you possibly can into that limited mommy time. You quickly prioritize your tasks and are hopefully impressed with what you were able to accomplish by the time the baby’s awake. Can you image if you had a guaranteed block of baby-free time every week to just spend on your business? Doesn’t that sound wonderfully productive? Trust me, it is!
Since I’m a single mom, my daughter visits her dad 2-3 times a week. In addition to that, she goes to a babysitter every Thursday morning for 4 hours. These blocks of time are my work-like-a-mad-woman time. I drop her off at 9am, grab coffee on my way home, and get to work as soon as I'm home. I power through as much as I can accomplish by the time I leave to pick her up. A lot of moms tend to feel guilty at the thought of using a babysitter just to get work done, but can I just tell you how liberating it is? For me and my business, it is totally worth it to fork out some extra money for childcare, if that means I can spend a good chunk of time intentionally moving my business forward, which in turn, gives me more income. The reward is tenfold not only for your business, but for your own peace of mind. When I pick up my daughter, I feel whatever the opposite of guilt is! I know that I’ve already completed a good portion of my office hours, so now I can simply enjoy being her mom. Yes, I’ll be back at it after bedtime, but even those hours aren’t always guaranteed. With a built in block in your routine to focus on your business, you can be more intentional with the rest of your time, and less guilty for trying to serve both roles at once.
Make your business work for you, not the other way around
This idea of “making your business work for you” is a common phrase in the entrepreneurial world and can sometimes be a little vague. For me, this phrase translates into one word: calendar. Or more specifically, Asana. In a previous post, I outlined all the ways I use Asana to organize my business, and can I just reiterate how much of a life saver this system has been? I’m able to plan out my projects (sometimes even for the entire year), assign tasks to specific dates, move around my to do list based on my weekly schedule, and not let anything slip through the cracks. Though it took a bit of setup time, this system has freed up my schedule by showing me exactly what tasks I need to do each day. If, like today, Poppy is boycotting her naps, I can quickly see what tasks for the day can be pushed over to tomorrow. It’s a system that allows me to be more intentional with my time, both as a business owner and as a mom.
Other ways you could make your business work for you are automated systems like Buffer or Latergram. Social media can be a time sucker, so getting a plan together for scheduling out your posts can be a huge benefit for your time. Another great option for being intentional with your time is participating in my latest (and totally free!) productivity challenge called Batch Day. This unique challenge allows you to dedicate an entire day's work (or just a half day, or even just an hour) to one topic, eliminating all distractions so you can make the most of your hyper-focused time. For the one-day challenge, you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable, learn from other creative business owners, and get a healthy dose of motivation throughout the day. This will be a monthly occurrence for Paper + Oats, so if you want to get in on the next Batch Day, sign up here! Batching your to do list like this allows you to complete lots of small, quick tasks in one sitting, which makes better use of your time in the long run and less switching back and forth between projects.
Surround yourself with like-minded mamas and build each other up
The last, and maybe most important thing you can do to find your balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship, is finding your community of like-minded mamas. Being a work-at-home mom is lonely. I just know you’re longing to have an adult conversation with another human being that doesn’t involve words like “boo-boo” and “binky!” Connecting with other moms is vital to our health as a mother, and as a business owner. The movement of community over competition is big right now, and it couldn’t be more timely. My oldest brother is a speaker, writer, podcaster, and business coach and runs with some big names in the entrepreneur world. We talk a lot about our businesses when we’re together, and lately it’s been fascinating to see the difference between the world of female entrepreneurs and male entrepreneurs. The men, while still encouraging to one another, can seem more business-focused. The women seem to be more relational and community-focused. It's an interesting dynamic, and of course there's some overlap, but I'm learning more and more the importance of building relationships — meaningful ones, not just ones that are advantageous to your business strategy.
As a mother, it becomes even more important to find that community with other moms, especially ones who understand the struggle of balancing motherhood and business. You can learn from each other’s tricks and mom-hacks, and turn to each other when you need some mommy encouragement and motivation. A great source of this for me has been social media including Instagram and Facebook groups like Whitney English’s Biz Designers and Heather Crabtree’s Savvy Business Owners. These online communities are wonderful, but also attending some workshops and retreats can feed your need for face-to-face interaction with your peers. I’m attending Stationery Academy in just a few weeks and can’t wait to carve this time out of my schedule to meet and learn from other boss ladies in my industry.
If I said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, I’m a work in progress in this department. Case in point, I’m trying to finish this post as Poppy plays by herself in her nursery. It’s a daily struggle! But we’re learning, we’re growing, and we’re slowly finding balance.
I wrote a book about becoming a single mother.
Signup below and I'll send you the full Introduction from Strong Girl, Brave Girl, plus I'll keep you in the loop with the latest book news and how to order your own copy. (Or you can just do that now.)
What creative ways are you finding to be more intentional with your time and make the most of your office hours? How are you creating community with other mama business owners? And more importantly, how do you get your child to nap when they go on strike?! #thestruggleisreal
Photography by Adie Gateley at Salt & Sky Studios
I’m writing a book.
There, I said it on the Internet, so it must be true. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never had a clue what I would write about. And then I found myself having the “divorce talk” and staring at a positive pregnancy test on the same day, and I thought, hey, there’s a story. I’ll write about learning to be a single mom and learning to be a mom at all. I’ll write about resiliency, change, and what happens when you wake up one morning and your life is the complete opposite of what it was the day before. And the complete opposite of anything you ever thought it would be.
But what makes this book different, is that I’m still in the middle of this mess. I’m not waiting until I’m decades out, and everything’s tied up with a bow. I’m writing this baby right in the thick of it, figuring out this single parenting thing as I go.
If you want to get on the waiting list to be first to know when new book developments unfold, drop your deets below.