Finding Balance: Running my Own Business While Being a Full-Time Stay-at-Home Mom
Juggling being a full-time stay-at-home mom and running your own business isn’t an easy task. Lines get blurred, time escapes you, and most days, you’re exhausted to do either job well.
It’s been just a few months since I’ve been able to really find a good balance and routine for managing both, and I thought it would be helpful to share some of the things that have helped me along the way.
1. Take your business seriously.
When you work for yourself (and work from home), it’s easy to downplay your work and allow yourself (and therefore, others) to speak about or treat your business like it’s just a hobby or fun thing you’re doing on the side. If you are serious about your business, then treat it like you would any other job. Stay organized, set working “hours (as best as possible), and make your business a priority in your day.
I have a precious 3-hour time slot when Ethan is napping, and I used to let people come by the house and hang out during that time if they wanted to. Now, I let people know that those are my working hours and I’ll have visitors come before or after that time. When I took my business seriously, others did too, and it allowed me to protect and prioritize the time I’ve set aside to do work.
2. Be realistic about your goals and expectations.
It’s really tempting to want to set big goals and see quick results, but when you’re taking care of a baby full-time, you have to remind yourself that, inevitably, things will take more time.
It’s ok if that Etsy launch is going to take you six months instead of three, and it might be better for you to turn down a few commissions so that you can focus on your other projects on hand.
Don’t set yourself up for failure or disappointment by setting unrealistic expectations for your business, because honestly, it’ll just end up making you feel crappy when things don’t go as planned. Assess what will work for you in your current life situation and set manageable and practical expectations. This has helped me SO MUCH.
And remember, slow progress is still progress. The important thing is that you’re moving forward every day.
3. Set clear and simple daily tasks.
Whether the window of time you have to work on your business stuff is big or small, setting clear and simple tasks will help you stay focused and productive. Instead of wasting precious time figuring out what to do and when to do it, create a clear plan of what needs to get done each day, and you’ll see how much more efficiently you’ll be able to use your free time.
When my mind feels scattered regarding what tasks I need to get done, I’ve found it helpful to divide a blank piece of paper into three columns - “Need to do”, “Should do”, and “Would like to do” - and do a huge braindump into those categories. This has helped me prioritize and organize all my tasks. I’ve also been using my bullet journal and an app called ClickUp to set due dates and plan my week every Sunday night.
Find a system that works for you and assign yourself clear and simple daily tasks. This has really been the key to my productivity.
4. Know your limits.
This is a hard one because I know how tempting it can be to work into the wee hours of the morning when you’re getting that long stretch of time after the baby goes down for the night. But if you continue to sacrifice sleep in order to work on your business, sooner or later, you’ll start seeing the negative effects in your health, mindset, and well-being. I’ve been there so many times. (And the same goes with skipping meals, overworking yourself, or any other behavior that is detrimental to your physical and mental health.)
On the days that I don’t sleep or skip meals, I’ve noticed that not only am I tired and sluggish all day, but I’m more cranky and less focused too. This means that, on top of being unable to give my 100% to my baby, I’m also sitting there being counterproductive with work since my mind and body haven’t gotten the rest it needs.
This is so important to remember: put your health first, because without it, we wouldn’t be able to do anything.
5. Be present.
I know this is hard (because mom guilt, I know), but when you’re working, stay focused on the task at hand and do your best not to feel distracted or guilty about the time you’re spending on your business.
In the same vein, when you’re with your baby, make sure you’re giving him/her your full attention and aren’t being distracted by thoughts of your business and what needs to get done for the day. I know this is probably the hardest one on this list, but still important to remember.
Whenever you catch your mind starts to wander, redirect yourself and focus on the task or activity at hand. As you continue to do that, you’ll be able to live your day with a lot more intention and purpose.
In the end, just remember that raising a child and pursuing your passions are two huge blessings in itself, and whether or not you’re feeling great about it today, the truth is is that you’re doing something pretty amazing. It won’t be perfect, but the key is to keep showing up and doing our best.
Here’s to more balance in our lives!