I hear the phrase “I don’t know how you do it all” often. I don’t feel like I do that much, especially since we moved to the East coast. There are thousands of parents that work from home and/or own businesses and honestly, I don’t even think of what I do as work most of the time. Photography is my passion, blogging is my therapy and design is my hobby.
Except it is work to do those things and I don’t feel like I have time to just be anymore. My kids are done with naps and my 3 year old is still home with me 100% of the time. I used to have a baby sitter that came one day a week for 2 hours but now she’s in after school sports so I don’t even have THAT time. Basically the “work” I accomplish during the week is done between cutting sandwiches in triangles, playing trains, shampooing finger paint out of the rug or wiping my son’s nose. I do the most I can with every second of the day- I write blogs in my head as I dust, I make lists while I load the dishwasher, even my laptop is strategically placed in an area where I can quickly grab it while my son takes a potty break.
“Doing it all” is not a glamorous lifestyle. It means never being on time (like, to ANYTHING) and feeling rushed from the second you open your eyes in the morning until you finally fall asleep at night. It means being short tempered with your kids because you just need 5 minutes to finish something and their demands are never ending. It means not washing my hair 3 days in a row because that 10 minutes is better spent emailing clients (which means putting some of my hard earned money to the side for things like dry shampoo). It means my kids watch a little more TV than I’d like. It’s having a to do list and crossing something off only to add 3 more things. It can be discouraging, exhausting and it makes me a total basket case.
Owning a business (or two, or three…) at home and my previous work environment are so different. What I’m doing now feels more rewarding, but it also feels very lonely. I miss being able to look up from my computer and peek around my desk to ask a coworker for advice. Instead I sit down to furiously type out a blog or upload pictures while my son is pooping and update social media walking back and forth from the bus stop. I miss leaving my work at the office. And let’s be honest, I even miss my “working lunches” where I had to shovel food into my face in between meetings or phone calls…that’s still better than eating my kids’ leftovers (usually a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich and cold mac and cheese) while we shuffle out of the house to get my daughter off to school and then my son down for his non existent naps.
But working my own businesses from home allows me to keep my identity outside of “mom”. I’ve talked about this before but I truthfully wish I could be content with the fact that I’m raising two kids and managing a household. I wish I didn’t feel the need to do all that and then some. I would love nothing more than to just BE in this stage of life, soak it all in and let this time at home with my young kids fill my heart. But it doesn’t. I love them more than anything in this world but being at home full time would eat me alive if I didn’t have an outlet.
So how do I “do it all”? I make a ton of mistakes. I sacrifice time with my kids. My house is an absolute disaster. I yell more than I should. I get mad at myself for trying to juggle everything. I seriously consider quitting everything at least twice a day. I take on too much and that is no one’s fault but my own.
But then I’ll get an email from a reader saying my blog post is the reason they were able to pump for their baby for a year. Or I’ll walk into a client’s home and see my photos hung all over their walls, welcoming every person that walks in their door. Or my phone will ding with a new Etsy order for a “do not knock” door magnet that a new mother so desperately needs. Then I get encouraged and passionate about those things again. It breathes a little bit of life back into me and I’m ready to go another round.
I hope my kids see me working hard but, more importantly, I want them to see me confident and passionate about what I’m doing. I’ve found that the secret to doing it all as a work from home Mom is to remember little eyes are watching. Teach them to be their own boss, do something they love and to not fear failure.
Also delegating your time wisely and saying “no” to others a few times more than you’d like help. Don’t mask the struggle, if the work becomes too much just ask for help!
All that PLUS a little Daniel Tiger…that’s how I make it work work at home.