Motherhood & Business: 10 things I have learned in my first year as a work at home Mom
First of all, I’ve learned it’s really… really… hard.
This was my first full year as a mother and an entrepreneur.
I started out planning to start a basic wellness blog and just see what happened. Then I realized it was a ton of work, and I had to make money somehow or go back to my part time job, so I started freelancing. Then I realized I really loved freelancing! So I started a business. And the rest is history.
It has taken commitment, and most days I have the feelings of “I love this!” And “I want to quit!” all on the very same day.
It’s been a personal journey of self-discovery the whole way and I wouldn’t’ trade it for the world.
I’ve been home with my children, and it has put us in a better place to be able to start looking at owning our first home (which we have now done! Hooray!). It’s been quite the ride. I am beyond grateful.
I’ve made some great friends and connections with other moms who are starting home based businesses or who have had them for years and know the ropes, and together we’ve shared the joys and the trials.
Here are ten things I learned from my first year running a business from home while mothering.
- Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. And that’s okay. It’s okay because it keeps life in perspective for me. I started out feeling guilty whenever I had a day where I didn’t like it. I would think to myself “I worked so hard for this, how dare I complain now!??” But I learned that those negative feelings can be good. They are typically a sign that I need to change something, make some adjustments. That might be a change as simple as taking a nap when my kids take a nap (let the housework be!) It might mean taking a larger step such as re-evaluating a client relationship or making some tough decisions about what to cut and what to keep. I learned that these negative feelings always need to be processed, and I may need to make adjustments. Or I may need to power through something that seems difficult. Whatever! Just make sure you are constantly evaluating how things are going and make adjustments as needed.
- I’m still a “Mom First”. The whole reason I started this whole thing in the first place was so that I could be a Mom first!! So if my priorities get blurry or my family starts getting cranky because mom’s stressed and overworked, I need to bring myself back to that value and that priority and put my own health and the health of my family first and foremost.
- I need to work by the 6:1 rule or the 5:2 rule. I started out working 7 days a week, all hours I wasn’t actively mothering and kids were sleeping, sometimes until 2 am. Well… as a wellness blogger, this is clearly not sustainable. We can see the irony here. Heck, as a human being, this is simply not sustainable and I do NOT recommend it. Ever!! So this was definitely something I had to learn. I had to learn to be able to let it go until tomorrow. Do I still pull some late nighters? Yes, once in awhile if I have a deadline. But I’ve gotten much better at this, I’m happy to report. The 5:2 rule or 6:1 rule means that I take OFF a certain number of days in relation to those which I work. I may work 5 days, take off two (they don’t always fall on the weekend, or consecutively, but this general principle has saved my life!). And I make sure at least one of those days off lands on the same day my husband has off. If I were not doing this, I would be a sad, sick, worn out, un-fun mom and wife. It’s just NOT WORTH IT, moms. Take your days off, advocate for yourself. Leave it until tomorrow. Unplug if you can.
- Establish “office hours” where you can. I work a lot in the evenings, but this isn’t great for maintaining “business hours”. So I have one day per week, it’s typically Mondays, where I schedule meetings, phone consultations, and any other “office work” that requires daytime hours. (Stay tuned for tip #10 where I talk about childcare. But hey! Don’t skip ahead!
- Seek out daily Inspiration!! Yes, I find I have to be inspired daily. I need it. Each day is a new day. I try to get through the week with the motivation I got Sunday night, and It just doesn’t last. Favorite podcasts, youtubers, whatever. It helps me to watch and listen instead of just read. Inspiration about business topics as well as fun topics, or topics related to your niche. Stay inspired, stay excited.
- Have real life experiences regularly. For me, I’m writing, preparing content, designing, and having a whole lot of screen time. More than I would ideally like. It’s easy for me to get “stuck” in my own head. I’m already prone to anxiety and depression and screen time does NOT help that. I love my family, I value them, so having experiences with them trumps all else. We have regular family excursions to the park, to the beach, to soccer practice, to the gym, to the fresh squeezed juicery… prioritizing these real life experiences and spending as much time as we possibly can in this God-given sunshine. Or rain. Or really whatever the weather! We participate in several non-profit 5ks per year. Whatever it is, we stay active, having real life experiences regularly. I really notice how rough things get if we get too homebound. This might be different for everyone! I would be interested in hearing what works for your family!
- Make sure your vitamin/mineral profiles are covered. Yes, that’s right! Take a look at your nutrition. You won’t feel your best if you are lacking or deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral. My big three I was lacking (omnivores and herbivores both need to double check these) were: a B vitamin complex, Omega 3/DHA/EPA, and trace minerals. You can include checking your vitamin D in here too, but it’s summer and I have kids, so that’s not a huge concern for me right now. But it will be again in the winter! And I take liquid forms of these supplements because I find that when I take any other kind, I don’t notice the results nearly as much. Liquid supplements absorb faster and more effectively. This liquid formula HERE is my favorite. I notice the results almost immediately, and it helps me write extra awesome blog posts. Not even joking. (I guess you can be the judge of that.) Excellent also for maintaining a positive mood, if like me, you struggle with anxiety. And on a more basic, note, just remember to eat your meals! We can’t skip over this! Sometimes we moms struggle to find time to even do that!
- If you’re a big dreamer like me, try to take one new thing at a time. Get good at that. Then expand to another idea, and on from there… You will get overwhelmed if you’re starting a blog or business, it’s just inevitable. So do your best to not focus on what everyone else is doing so much, and set your own pace. Work on one solid idea at a time, and do it justice.
- Treat it like a real job. Set the number of hours per week you know you can work on your blog or business, and then work those hours! Simple, right? This will help keep you from spending too much time and energy on your new blog or business or from burning out too quickly or letting it take time away from you and your family. Have a start time and an end time. Remember, you still have to plan meals, pack lunches, and keep your household running (if you’re doing this while full-time mom-ing!) BEING A MOM IS A FULL-TIME JOB ALREADY!! So we’re all crazy. Let’s be honest. But if we really must work our home business (wink, wink) then let’s make sure we don’t get too carried away and we practice good self and family time management.
- Don’t feel guilty when it comes time to interview the nanny. This is a tough one for me. I struggle with this one a lot. But the fact is, I read once that “you’d never choose a care provider for kids that was tired and cranky all the time… so why aren’t you taking self-care seriously?!” It was worded differently than that… but that is essentially what I have kept in my memory. Ha! In order to thrive, I needed to outsource the care of my kids one day per week. Seems like very little in the grand scheme of things. But I dragged my feet on this for forever… mainly for financial reasons! I needed to make sure it made financial sense, that I was finally making enough per month to be able to ask someone to watch my kids one day per week. I’ve started with a half day for now, and as I’m financially able we will move on to a full day. But there is great freedom here. I realized I’d never be able to get to that next step working with the limited number of hours I had. And I am able to be MUCH more present and be a more attentive parent the rest of the hours of the week, because I outsourced those 4-6 hours so I could get work off my mind, essentially!! It works, it really does. Would I do more childcare? Good question. At this point, no, because being home with my kids is my main value and priority. But I sure as heck will take what’s necessary. Everyone is happier for it.
- SURPRISE!!! Bonus Tip. Number 11. Is this really for you?
At one point I was driving in my car sobbing. It seemed our family was simply not happy. I was working too much, I wasn’t maintaining our family time and values at home like we had prioritized, I was being walked over by clients, and I was sick and unhappy bottom line. I was driving home from my counselor, having asked one simple question, “How do I know if I should quit doing all this crazy stuff or if I am supposed to keep going!?”
I prayed in the car, all alone, on the way home. What was I to do? The quiet voice inside me said ever so gently but firmly “Give it one more valiant effort.” Word for word, that’s what I heard.
So I knew what I needed to do. I needed to make some BIG adjustments in order to give it one more valiant effort! And some of those adjustments made have resulted in learning some of the lessons/tips mentioned above here in this post. Sometimes learning them the hard way. Actually… always learning them the hard way, cuz that’s the way I am, let’s be honest.
I made those tough phone calls, got down to some seriously personal gritty issues, had some good conversations with my husband, and made some big physical adjustments and decisions. SO happy I did this. We did this. My family. Because in the weeks and months that followed I began to actually enjoy what I was doing again. I was re-motivated and refreshed, and was making time for betteself-carere and better quantity family time, and I had weeded out some situations in my life that needed attention, from personal friendships to work related tasks.
Should I have continued if my husband and family were not on board? No, I don’t believe so. Should I have continued if my
But my final tip would be this – check in with your life, with your values, with your loved ones, and with your God-guided intuition. And let what you do keep in pace with what is healthy and right, a situation you can truly thrive in.
Whew! This was a long post, but I hope you can walk away feeling like we know each other a little better, and maybe even having gleaned a thing or two. Leave a comment below and let me know what YOU have learned if you are a “momtrepreneur” or work at home mom! I want to learn from you!