Four months ago, we welcomed our third baby into the world. We have two older children, a boy, Wil and a girl, Haleigh and our newest girl, Ellie who just joined the family. I started running my business from home when our oldest, Wil was just six months old. Our business sort of had two births – before I had Wil, it was honestly, a money-making hobby. Once he was here and I left my full time position as an assistant to the Executive Vice President at a local university, it had its first birth as a full time business. I count another “start over” when we began specializing in weddings just one year later. Both starts were harder than I’d like to admit. But we pushed through, all of us together, also birthing and raising babies alongside of birthing and raising our business.
While running a business from home has its own set of challenges, a whole new set of obstacles and victories are involved when you add children into the mix. And whether you have one or five little humans living in your home while you run your business, there are some tips that you can use to make working from home with babes a little easier.
- Outsourcing. Outsourcing can be one of the biggest sanity savers known to entrepreneurs. And if you’re like me and don’t want to outsource your work – there are other ways you CAN outsource. One of the best decisions we ever made as a family was to hire someone to help clean the house. She comes in once a month to clean my house from top to bottom – so all I have to do is touch it up during the other four weeks and keep it picked up. The kids have chores, so as they’re getting older, they’re picking up their own toys from around the house, helping clear the dishes and do small chores like gathering trash and helping unload the dishwasher. But until you have any school aged children in your home, basically it’s all on you, babe. Housework, errands, design projects, social media, editing — all ways you can outsource without giving up everything. I know a girl who hired a nanny to come in once a week to watch the kids so she can hole up in her office and get a full 8-hour work day in. Whatever works – but the main thing is this : remember that it’s okay not to be able to DO. IT. ALL. Outsourcing doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Start out small. Next year, I’m hoping to have our maid come in twice a month as a goal.
- Apps. Apps are a great way to help you half-way outsource. If you use apps right, you can save a TON of time. For example, I use Planoly to schedule my instagram posts. Because my business is so visually oriented, Instagram is a place where I DO NOT need to fall behind. I post once or twice a day, every day of the week. Planoly is available right on my phone, has saved hashtag groups and posts automatically any scheduled posts I have saved. Google apps have also saved my sanity by ways of organizing and using spreadsheets that are not only accessible from the computer I work from but also from my phone or even anywhere I need to log in and see what I’ve saved.
- Working when you can. This is a big one. Especially when there are infants around the house, until children are a little more independent, work hours are like sleep hours – you get them when you can. There’s no predictability, no guarantee how much time you’ll have to work. While my work hours seem to get a little more predictable when our youngest child at the time hits around age 2- until then, it’s scrounging sometimes for 5 minutes at a time. And that’s okay. Often, on Wednesday evenings I go meet Rusty at work and we go on from there to dinner and Church. But I typically wait for him to get off and let all the kids sleep off a little snooze in their carseats. I have the air going and some nice relaxing music for them to listen to and it’s nice and quiet. While I wait, I use the 15-20 minutes to schedule instagram posts. It’s not always about working at a desk – but by utilizing the apps I have to make work easier, I can work from wherever I am and get something done when I do have a few minutes of downtime.
- Prioritizing. Basically when you don’t have a set two hours of uninterrupted time in which you can complete a project, while there’s an infant around specifically, sometimes it can feel like your life is made up of half-completed projects. Right now, I have half a closet cleaned out. Just half. Not the other half. One half looks fantastic and the other looks like the other half threw up on it and that’s where all the mess went. You kind of half to be okay with having things half-done for a while and picking back up as soon as you can – but the truth is, you have to prioritize your time into what’s most important. Obviously, the care and well being of your children come first. Reading books, giving baths, baby snuggles and calming down Lego wars take precedence over all. But during those 15-20 minutes or that heavenly 1 hour you might have of work time, focus on the tasks that are most important to get done soon.
- Take it one day at a time. Sure, you can plan out tasks for your whole week, but chances are things are going to come up. Kids get sick, you need to run them to the doctor and suddenly a whole day is gone. Goals are great, but when your days are filled with an un-fulfilled task list that you made last week – it can seem overwhelming what all you DIDN’T get done. Instead, I make a weekly to do list and take it one day at a time, planning what I can or hope to get done that day. When I’m planning the next day, I start with what I haven’t finished, and then add to it from the day before. This helps me not feel like such a failure when I see that I’m still not finished with Monday’s tasks on Wednesday.
- Get Organized. Once you can adapt kind of a routine, get organized. What that meant for me was getting a planner than I could see hourly plans for my day as well as overall weeks and months. I use The Simplified Planner by Emily Ley and I absolutely adore it and what it’s done for our life here. I can set goals for the hours in my day and work on them as I go. It also helps keep my days organized and well planned for appointments, shoots, weddings and even scheduling babysitters for the kids while we’re shooting weddings. Organization for me also looks like a spreadsheet for each wedding workflow from contract to delivering the final product. I know where I’m at on every wedding at a glance.