I am a work at home mama, or a “WAHM” in the mommy blog world. Balancing raising the tiny human and running a small business has been SO challenging. I feel like I have a million things to say about this topic, so stick with me here as I share how the heck this even works 🙂
PSA I want to preface this post by saying this: I absolutely do noooottt have this totally under control. There are many days where we all eat and sleep and thats about it. Any parent will tell you that once you’ve finally figured out a baby’s schedule or preferences, it changes. Like instantly. BUT I want to share what I’ve been doing over the past 6 months.
I went “back to work” with my first wedding when Dylan was 7 weeks old. Since then I have shot three weddings, a handful of at-home sessions, and about a bazillion family session (bazillion= technical term); not to mention the regular upkeep that goes along with a business: emails, social media, endless computer work, etc etc. Every wedding (600+ images) has been delivered in two weeks or less (I promise four weeks to my clients) and portrait sessions within ONE week (I promise two.) I don’t want to downplay the amount of work that goes in to editing, it is a LOT. But I’ve always been a big believer in “under promise/ over deliver” and its a big part of my business model.
Some details about our life I should mention:
- Dylan is almost 6 months old and for the past two months has been on a pretty basic routine with her awake hours being 7am- 7pm and 3ish naps a day. On a good day, she takes three 30 minute naps + 15 minutes of crib chill time before I come grab her. (Note: apparently “normal” 4-6 month olds are supposed to take 1.5 hour naps?!?… I can count on one hand how many times that has happened.)
- We have always followed an EAT-PLAY-SLEEP schedule and the PLAY portion is a mix of going for walks, running errands, and actually playing. I DO NOT work during these times so I can give Dylan my full attention. Occasionally I will do housework (like the dishes or laundry) but I include Dylan in these activities as much as possible by making up cleaning songs or having her hold things + press the buttons.
- I’m addicted to Social Media… who isn’t these days? But a rule I’ve set for myself is that I will not be mindlessly scrolling while Dylan is playing. “Zombie Phone Time” is reserved for while she is nursing & sleeping. (Honestly I’d like to kill this habit and have less screen time, but I’m picking my battles)
- We are ALWAYS on the move. Most naps are in the crib, but sometimes they are in the car/ stroller/ etc. and we both just need to be flexible. This sometimes means I have to work at odd hours to make up for lost time. Which leads me to….
- I have rules for when I’m allowed to work (mostly for the sake of my relationship!). 4 out of 5 weekdays I “close up” as soon as Sam walks in the door. Occasionally I need to play catch up and have him do full Dad Duty for 30 mins- an hour while I work. But once we get to dinner I’m done for the day. I also don’t work on weekends. Obviously I have photo shoots + weddings, and sometimes need to answer an important email, but 95% of the time my computer stays at my desk from Friday 5pm- Monday 9am.
ANYWAYS. In a perfectly scheduled work, Dylan’s days look something like this:
7am: Wake Up + Nurse, then go for a walk
10am: Nurse, play play play- maybe run errands
1pm: Nurse, playtime at home
4:00pm: Nurse, then normally we take an afternoon walk
That gives me 30 minutes to accomplish something three times a day (9am, 12pm, and 3pm). The options that constantly run through my head are: emails, edit, laundry, dishes/ cleaning, eat, or relax. At first I put SO much pressure on myself by thinking I could do all of theses during one nap. Then Dylan would wake up early or something and I would be resentful. And thats not fair! So I made my goals smaller:
1st Nap: Eat, WORK/ answer emails, if theres time start a load of laundry
2nd Nap: WORK
3rd Nap: Clean, dishes, relax + EAT (no work)
^ The order can switch up depending on my energy levels and how much work I have to do, how hungry I am, if Dylan wakes up after 10 minutes…
I also have tasks I try to do weekly: On Mondays I grocery shop, Tuesdays I do laundry, Thursday I clean the living room and Fridays are my fun days!
The most important things I want to mention is this: Dylan is happy if I am happy. I am happy if I feel accomplished and fulfilled. To feel accomplished, I have a weekly calendar where I schedule my daily goals, and then check off as I complete them each day. To feel fulfilled, I give my full attention to my family whenever I can and I leave the house (walk at the beach, get coffee, run an errand, baby + mama groups, etc.). It may seem like those take away from my work/ home time, but it actually helps me do more because I fill my cup (literally and metaphorically) and then have the energy + right attitude to do the other stuff.
Here are some tips:
- Multitask // Its so doable if you don’t allow yourself to stress about it. Figure out what you can manage at once. I can cook a meal, move a load of laundry, and answer emails during the same nap time, I just have to figure out my “limit” before getting overwhelmed.
- Ask for help // I don’t know about you, but this one is so hard for me. But when I ask Sam to take over for 10 minutes before work so I can get ready, or 30 minutes after work (if he’s home early enough) for me to finish up some work, it makes all the difference. Maybe someday I’ll even let a grandparent babysit? 😉
- Somethings gotta give // Sometimes we just can’t get to everything and THAT’S OKAY. Our “something” is folding Sam and I’s laundry. I literally bought a second laundry basket for clean clothes. Someday I’ll figure out how to do this but for now we can handle digging for underwear every morning and some wrinkly shirts.
- And finally, GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK // There are days where I buy two coffees and eat cookies for lunch, or maybe just hold Dylan and Netflix all day long. And its okay!!! I’ll resume being Super Mom tomorrow.