So, of course, this is just the beginning. I am about three and a half months into being a mom and only about ten weeks into trying to work from home and raise a kiddo. My job is always changing (more on this in a future post, I'm sure) but right now entails developing content for and maintaining this blog, freelance writing and design projects, new product, workshop and eCourse development and shop maintenance. What is currently working for my family probably will not be working for us in six months. It might not be working in six days. But I can stress out over what is to come or embrace what is happening now and it seems more productive to do the latter.
Here are a few things that I have found to be helpful so far:
Keep reasonable to-do lists and set realistic deadlines. I can't turn things around at the same pace that I could before Ellerie. That's a fact. For my own projects, I triple the amount of time that would have usually given myself. An example is the Quilt eCourse which popped into my head the last week of August. I set the goal to have it listed on my website by October 1. That gave me 30 days (or 30 naps so about 90 hours) of time which felt "realistic" to me. (Pre-baby it would have still taken me 90 hours, but I would have most likely packed those 90 hours into one or two weeks.) For projects that I am delivering for others, I am honest about the commitment that I can give and in the timeframe that I can give it. The goal is to have enough time that I can execute without sacrificing sleep or too much family time.
Know the difference between asleep tasks & awake tasks. While Ellerie is awake I can prep dinner, fold laundry, run errands, go for walks, tidy up, take photos and take a shower (she sits in her boppy near the bathroom and I actually enjoy slightly longer showers this way because I can see her and know she's doing well). I cannot write blog posts, do computer work, sew, read, enjoy a meal or start messy/involved projects. These items are bound to change as she grows, but right now I know what works and do not spend time while she's sleeping doing "awake tasks" or attempt "asleep tasks" while she's awake.
Don't do quick tasks slowly. Just because I can write blog posts or respond to emails on my phone doesn't mean I should. It's crazy to spend 10 minutes addressing an email with one hand while holding Ellerie when I could spend just two minutes doing the same task later while sitting at my computer keyboard. I'm better off using that "holding baby time" to actually enjoy holding the baby and/or letting my mind wander.
Make your workspace work. I am about to embark on a major office overhaul. Right now, the space that I work in everyday is a disaster zone. I set it up without much thought when we moved in, figuring that after I had the baby I'd have a better idea of what my job was going to look like. Now I know what my job looks like and where I want it to go and I need a space that is much more organized so when I am in my office I am not wasting time in the piles of clutter. Getting it reorganized over the next few months is a huge priority.
Ask for help. Three out of five weekdays I think to myself "I need help." The other two days I think to myself "No seriously, I need help." ;) Without a doubt, my job is the "when something's gotta give, it gives" job. Paul can't just "show up late" when I need more time to work in the morning. He can't just "take a day off" when the baby needs extra attention. I can't pretend like this doesn't frustrate me, but I am working to swallow my passive-aggressive sighs and speak up when I need the help. Sometimes it means Paul takes Ellerie for three hours on a Sunday morning while I lock myself in the office and crank through it. Sometimes it's a random Thursday night where I know having just one uninterrupted hour would really make a difference. Sometimes it's about arranging Grandparent visits (which would be happening anyway) around when I have a big deadline. Ask for help. Specifically say what you need from your partner or parents or friends or sitter or boss or whatever. Put it out there, don't just stew in it.
Adjust the schedule. Pre-baby, I woke up on my own time frame between 7-8 and spent the morning enjoying my breakfast then plowed through my to-do list. I was usually done with my "have-tos" (emails, blog post writing, packing orders, etc) by early afternoon and was then free to do whatever I wanted around the house or work-wise. Post-baby, I wake up early to an alarm in order to still get in that "breakfast" time before Ellerie is up. This quiet alone time in the morning is essential for me and well worth the bit of lost sleep. Sometimes I am able to get to a few work "have-tos" but usually, Ellerie is ready to be up before I can sit at my computer. This means my prime working hours end up being in the early afternoon during her nap and I am often not able to clear my to-do list until late in the day. This was stressful for me early on but after recognizing the pattern I am working to adjust accordingly.
Respect the ebb and flow. Some days are not great: Ellerie is fussy and doesn't want to nap, my printer refuses to print during the one hour I have to work, the Internet is spotty and I legitimately fear that I might drown in a sea of spit up. Other days are phenomenal: Ellerie naps for four hours straight, she's content and adorable while awake, I cross items off my list quickly, I come up with a Great Idea and outline an action plan for getting it accomplished. Neither of these days are normal but both happen on occasion. I am learning to respect them for what they are. The hard day is going to pass; tomorrow will be better. And the amazing day is amazing, and needs to be appreciated, but it too will pass. I can't base any business OR motherhood decisions off what happens on the best or the worst days - they are outliers (if they weren't we would for sure have a live-in nanny and/or one million dollars by now).
(OH MAN, this is such a long post. I just read though it again and tried to edit it down and found myself adding MORE text and the hilarious thing is that I feel like I could still go on and on.)
What I have learned in three months is that with patience and organization and adjustments it's sort of possible (I have a feeling 2014 will be the year I finally need an assistant and/or part time help watching Ellerie). I am working hard these days but am feeling so fulfilled.
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