The Do It All Mom – Working From Home

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The Do It All Mom – Working From Home

April 8, 2013

Entrepreneurship and family is tricky business!  I can tell you from experience that choosing to stay at home with my kids while running 2 expanding companies has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.  Getting back to work when my second child was only 5 days old was pretty hard, as opposed to the 7 months of maternity leave that I had with my first child before deciding to start my own business.  But, the sacrifice of certain times over the years has certainly been worth it, especially when our family is enjoying the benefits of having the extra income.

I own Mommy Connections as well as well as business network based out of Edmonon, AB called WECAN; Women Entrepreneurs Connecting and Networking.  I am often asked if WECAN hosts workshops on work-life balance.  I feel that most entrepreneurial women are probably so busy balancing (aka-juggling!) that they probably don’t have time to learn about work-life balance. Spending 2 hours talking and ‘learning’ about it would probably make things even more unbalanced! I know when I get invited to a networking event or seminar, a bunch of things go through my mind – What day of the week is it on? Is my husband home? If not, who is going to watch the kids? What is a fast supper we can have before heading out the door? Will I be home in time to feed the baby? All the joys of balancing being the head of a household and the head of a company.

The point is, something is always winning, and as long as work and family are winning relatively equally, then it all works out in the end.  The best advice I can give on work life balance is to simply be flexible, or ‘bendy’ as my friend Natasha Chiam says.

Over the last 4 years, I have learned a lot – here are a few things that have worked for me.  Truthfully some days are more stressful than others, but these points have definitely made entrepreneur-life easier!

–          Get into a schedule!

  • I work nearly every morning early before the kids wake up.  Even if I have to get up super early (which I usually do) I can get a lot done in 2-3 hours of totally uninterrupted work time and then I don’t feel like I am being pulled back into the office all day while my kids are also demanding my attention.  It is hard the first few times to get up extra early, but the feeling of being up to speed on the majority of my work makes for a much less stressful day and a much more loving mommy!

–          Work when they nap

  • I try and do everything that my kids don’t mind doing with me (cleaning the house, running errands, cooking etc) when they are awake.  It takes longer, but we can have fun and do it together. That way, when they are napping (or at preschool, now) I can focus on work and NOTHING pulls me away.  I don’t do laundry, prep supper, make personal calls etc.  Those few hours a week are too precious to do anything else but work.  It takes discipline not to want to head to the grocery store with just one kiddo or pop into a mall, but it is worth it!  You can get so much work done when you are focused and don’t have kids pulling on you or sitting on your lap while you are trying to type!

–          If you have been used to working in an office, outside of the home, you will be AMAZED at how much more work you can get done in way less time when you are focused and on your own without co-workers.  A full work day on your own at home (without any co-worker chit chat!) can easily be accomplished in nearly half the time.  My point is, I find that I don’t need nearly as many office hours to get the same things accomplished now that I am on my own.

–         Use your smartphone!

  • Use your phone to keep up with all of your social media marketing; facebook, twitter and linked can easily be fit into every day life; sitting in the car wash, waiting in line at the grocery store or waiting for water to boil.  It is a great way to sneak in extra work.
  • Use the list features to stay organized or to sort ideas, tasks, call back lists or business notes
  • Sync your calendar with your phone; it will help you ensure you know what is coming up and you can also use it to create blocks of time to complete certain work tasks
  • I have even written full blog posts on my phone – they are immeasurably useful in multitasking and helping the success of my business.
  • Make sure you aren’t too attached – if you can’t put it down in the bedroom or at the kitchen table, make a rule about it and stick to it!

–          I nearly never work at night

  • I am a morning person and am too tired by the end of the day.  At night I like to tidy things up, get ready for the following day and just enjoy time with my family.  This is also precious spouse time!  I try very hard not to work at night, and if I do, I have a set time (60 minutes, for example) while my husband puts the kids to bed.  I know a lot of women that always work late and don’t start until late in the evening (after 9 or 10pm) They wake up exhausted from lack of sleep and get into a constant cycle of sleepiness and lack of energy.  The few hours that I have after my kids go to bed is usually the only time I get to spend with my husband, so I make that time a priority.

–          Watch out for time wasting!

  • I have to be careful about planning coffee or lunch dates and events – as an employee, it is easy to schedule lots of client meetings, 3 hour networking lunches, breakfast meetings and mid-morning coffee pow-wows.  As someone who is self employed, time is WAY TOO VALUABLE and these outings have to be very carefully chosen.  I now always set time limits on any meetings and I am very clear about my time before we get into the meeting.  As women, we can stray from the conversation task pretty easily!

–          Working with your kids around is VERY tricky!

  • I need to set boundaries for my office during the day when my kids are with me.  If I am always being pulled back into the office for an email or phone call, they start to get annoyed and act up.  It is way better for me to put everything on hold until I know I have a block of time to sit (sort of uninterrupted) while I get a bit of solid work done.  Stay at home, working moms, can easily get into the habit of turning on the TV and encouraging the kids to zone out for hours at a time while mom works.  It is okay sometimes, but all the time is a problem!  If you make a promise to your kids (“one phone call and an email and I am done” keep your promise!  Same goes for working deadlines.  If it is impossible for you to complete a task for a client, don’t promise it!  You are the boss and you set your deadlines.  We can be our biggest stress inducers by setting impossible goals for ourselves.  When I first started my businesses, I wasn’t always truthful with my work from home (with kids!) situation.  Now, I am generally very up front.  Most people that I work with know and understand that I have 2 kids at home with me and are very sympathetic to time restraints.

–          Get help if you need it!

  • I have a virtual EA that helps me greatly with my workload.  I also had a university student coming in 2-3 times a week when Madelyn was a toddler and less self-entertaining during the day.  It was great to have someone take her for a walk or to the park for a few hours while I got work done.  I was way more focused when it was just Madelyn and I and not thinking about how much work was waiting for me.
  • I enjoy cleaning my own home, but if this is something that you hate doing and gets in the way or work or play – get help!  I have a working mom friend who finds laundry her biggest time suck.  She has a friend who enjoys doing laundry (and the extra money each week!) come over one evening a week and do her laundry.  Do whatever works!
  • I HATE (with a capital H!) doing any of my book keeping and finances.  I have had a full time book keeper and accountant for over 2 years and it is a huge lifesaver.  It was something that I dreaded doing and would end up working on in my ‘spare’ time (aka at night or on the weekend) and it definitely took away from my work and family focus.

–          Understand that being a full time mom and full time business owner is a sacrifice that has both challenges and perks.

  • While I sometimes struggle with the overwhelming responsibility that I am my kids full time caregiver, household commanding officer and the head of 2 busy and expanding companies, I also get to decide on a whim that we will go out for the afternoon to a movie mid-week, or have lunch out.
  • It was really hard only having about a week off when my second child was first born, but the benefit is that I am home working with him.  I am not facing ‘entering the workplace’ again and I am home if my kids are sick.  I am there for them anytime!

–          Take advantage of being your own boss

  • I have travelled more than ever before in the last 4 years of owning my own business – I travel some for work, but I also make sure that I am treating my family – this is after all, why I do what I do.  To give my family all the added perks of 2 working parents.

–          Being at home and working with your kids teaches them immeasurable life lessons – dedication, work ethic, business sense, organization, patience and more.  Having an entrepreneurial parent can be a true gift for a child.  There is so much to be learned from working parents that are balancing life, love and work!

 

Lastly, embrace the idea of being ‘unemployable!’  That is my greatest gift that I have personally received from my entrepreneurial journey!

 

Happy Entrepreneurship!

Carol, Mommy Connections President & Founder

 

To learn more about entrepreneurial opportunities within Mommy Connections, visit our Licensing Page.  We are currently seeking Directors across Canada and specifically in Calgary, Airdrie, Lloydminster and North Toronto.

 

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