I feel like I have written quite a few posts lately about working and being a mom and how the two don't nesssecarily fit together quite as nicely as I thought they would before I became a mother. I also mentioned that I was going to write a 2 cent Tuesday about the topic and "How I do it." But the truth is I don't really have a perfect way, or easy solution. So, I just want to preface this post by first saying that I strongly believe that "mother knows best." I think every mother truly knows what is best for her child and herself. So with that being said this post is less of a "this is what you should do" and more of a "this is what I do, not sure if it is working out that great yet but, I am surviving and things are going pretty well, so maybe it might be interesting for another mom to read" post. So here it goes:
This is how I work from home (I currently write this blog, guest blog and curate roundups for other blogs, work as the art director at Verily Magazine, run an online shop, about to start a letterpress paper line and take on freelance projects when I can) and take care of my 5 (almost 6) month old son:
We wake up between 5:30 and 6:30 everyday (depending on how long Henry will let us sleep in). Conor tries to take Henry on a walk or play with him quietly in the living room while I catch another half an hour of sleep if he can. I get up, put a swimsuit and a big t-shirt on, we make breakfast, listen to some music, let Henry play on the floor and I try to get a few things squared away (pay a few bills, catch up on a couple of emails, maybe do a quick blog post). Around 9:00 Conor leaves and I put Henry down for his morning nap. This is a long, tedious process which includes nursing, letting him cry in his crib for 10 min, nursing some more, rocking, bouncing, leaving him to cry some more and over and over until he eventually gives in to his sleep demons and closes his eyes. While he is asleep I work on something - a blog post, an invoice, a portion of a project - whatever I think I can get done in an hour.
I have discovered that there is no hope of getting any work done while Henry is awake and in my care. The minute I gave up any notion of that happening the two of us became a lot happier together. He simply needs all of my attention and can't be placed in a bouncer while I get a few things done. So when Henry wakes up I change him out of his pajamas and head out for an adventure. We go on a walk to the post office to mail packages for Chief and Crown, to visit a friend, to the beach with other moms or play at the playground behind our house.
When we get home I try to eat some lunch and get him fed and then we settle in for another nap. Tuesdays and Thursdays Conor comes home early so I work for the rest of the afternoon, taking breaks to feed Henry or to take a walk around the block to get some fresh air. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I either take an afternoon nap with him (or if I have a big deadline I try to get some more work done). On those days Conor gets home by late afternoon and I start working then. Around 5:30 we give Henry a bath, feed him a few bites of baby food (he is really in to that right now) give him a warm bath, put him in some cozy pajamas, read him a story and I nurse until he either falls asleep or is not interested anymore and then he goes in his crib around 6:30. Then, Conor and I make dinner, talk, clean up and I finish up some stuff that I am working on. I try to stop working around 8:00 but sometimes that just isn't possible and I end up working until 10:30 or 11:00. When I do finish around 8:00 we watch a couple of shows together, talk or have our good friends over for some cookies and a game or two (They live right around the corner from us so it is easy to have them over for a brief time before bed like that).
I try to take weekends off - especially Sunday. We try to make Sunday as much of a family day as we can. We don't work, shop, watch TV, do chores or go to the beach. I grew up that way and it always made Sunday a fun special day to spend quality time with my parents.
The three things that I eventually learned after trial and error that have helped me out tremendously are-
1. It is important for me to have set work hours. Even if they are crazy ones, having separate distinct times for family and for work help me balance the two better than when I didn't have that.
2. I don't try to work when taking care of Henry. Working while taking care of Henry means that I don't do either very well. Both suffer. Giving up on that made both fall in to place a lot easier.
3. Let trusted friends and family help when they can. It has been (and still is) really hard for me to leave Henry with people. I don't do it often. I even felt guilty when I first startied having Conor watch him in the afternoons. Yes, I am his mommy and he does need me but I think it is good for him to have some time away from me, get used to other people and (in our case) spend some quality time with his dad. It is also good for Conor to get the opportunity to have that father/son time and feel confident in his abilities to take care of his son alone.
Well, because this post was already too long three paragraphs ago I am going to stop here. I did find some interesting reading over on A Cup Of Jo by some blogging/working-from-home-moms on how they handle their lives and balance family and work. If you are interested in reading it click here. And to all of those moms out there trying to balance it all - you are good! You are the perfect person for your little ones and you know what is best for you and your family. Sometimes it is just a struggle finding that right routine or taking that big step to get help when you need it. Don't give up on your dreams because you have kids. Being a mom does mean giving up a lot of things but it doesn't mean giving up those things that make you feel fulfilled. Doing that is not going to do any one any good. I personally feel like if I am truly committed to my kids they will be inspired by my goals and determination instead of hindered by them.