Freelancing Mommy- Tips for Running a Business with a Baby
My blog has not been update since May. I stopped booking jobs in June. Why you ask? Because of this beautiful little girl named London.
In July our family of four became a party of 5. Our youngest before London is 7 years old. So it has been a while since we have had a baby in our household. London is now almost 4 months old. I am loving spending time getting to know her. She is the cutest baby who has brought so much love to our family. But welcoming her into our lives took some adjustments. I now have this little person who I am completely responsible for. Some days I barely have time to look after myself let alone trying to run my businesses. It is very hard. Especially since London was born right before my busiest season.
The biggest myth everyone tells you about working with a newborn is that babies sleep all day so you can just work while they sleep. Well here is my reality London learned the difference between day and night pretty early on. So through out the day she takes cat naps lasting 20-30 min. Her longest stretch of sleep is an hour and a half. So getting things done can be a challenge. While nothing can prepare you 100% to time share with a baby over the years I have discovered a few strategies to help me get things done. I have always believed you do not have to choose. You can be an amazing mom and also have an successful business. Here are my tips to help you juggle both.
The first thing you need to do is get some help. The most obvious help every one thinks about is for the baby. But I want you to think about getting help with everything- your business, your household and the baby. So it’s really important that you recognize what you can outsource and delegate from the beginning. So much time is absorbed by the baby that you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with also trying to complete business and household duties. You need a support network around you. Be open to the concept of relying on the support of others, as well as reaching out to people they might never expect to for help.
For your home and the baby if you have friends offering to do things for you — let them! Guide them to areas where they can be most helpful. Whether that be meals, dog walking, shopping,cleaning your home etc. After having my baby one of the best things one of my friends created for me was a meal train. Friends and family signed up to bring my family meals. I did not have to cook for a month after bringing London home. The older kids were excited to see what meals that were going to brought to the house each night and loved getting a new visitor each night. Not to mention it was one less thing I had to worry about. One other great thing that really helped me was depending on others to help me get rest. One day my husband had one of our cousins come over and watch the baby so that I could sleep for an entire day. If you can afford a cleanIng service that is also a great option, even for just a few months after the baby is born.
For your business outsource everything that you can, even if its just for the first 6 weeks, you will feel so much better. Take it from me it feels so good having someone working on your business that has had more than 2 hours of sleep. Every business is different but we all have administration tasks. Virtual assistants are great they can help out with emails, customer requests, bookings, social media updates and whatever other admin tasks are necessary for your business. If your business requires a hands-on person in the space, look to see if you can get an intern or part-time staff member to start before your baby arrives.
2. Create A Schedule
Priority number 2 create a plan. Always have one- that way if your baby only sleeps for one hour you know exactly what you need to do. Pay attention to your baby's sleeping pattern. Figure out the amount of time you can devote to your business and devise a plan. Think about childcare also. While some moms will be able to work around naps and evenings others will needs to send their baby to a nursery or grandma's on certain days. When it comes to childcare I do a little of both. My administrative days I work around London's naps. Days that I work on photoshoots or productions she goes to a babysitter or my mom's.
Don’t multi-task! Instead do one lot of similar tasks at a time. Shut down Facebook and the 20 other tabs you have open and just work on one thing eg emails, then blog posts, then orders, then invoicing, you’ll get much more done this way rather then flipping from screen to screen.
London's sleeping schedule is pretty consistent at 4 months. So I highlight her naptimes in my day planner and write down what I will work on during her nap times. I also create a list of things that I can work on while London is awake. During her longest stretch of time that she is awake I try to devote that time to her where she has my undivided attention.
Once you have a baby time is of the essence. It's the one thing you do not have a lot of. Finding the right balance between time with the baby and working on the business requires careful prioritization of tasks. Before the baby arrives try to decide what your business will keep doing for the next few months and what it might stop doing.
Scrap all projects that are not making you money or will take a big investment of your time. This is not the time for these projects, it’s ok to change your plans and push projects back 12 months.
4. Automate, Automate, Automate
The easiest way to free up time is automate simple tasks. Put systems in place to automate as much of your business as you can, even better get a VA to do this for you! Every business has vital, but time-consuming tasks that require completion, not all of those tasks are income-producing ones. Ideas for task that you can automate are email responses and newsletters, social media management, invoicing, payment processing, and customer management. Automation is simply putting routine processes on auto pilot.
5. Setup Your Workspace
When you are at home with a newborn a lot of the day you are stuck in one spot due to a feeding and napping baby. So how you setup your work area is important. You want to try as much as possible to have everything within arms length of you. Try to keep noises down to a minimum. I will often sit my phone next to me on silent. Where I can see the phone light up or feel it vibrate. But I don't have to worry about a ringing phone waking up London. Using mobile devices such a tablet, laptop or your phone makes it convenient to work near or even while you are holding the baby.
6. Be Flexible
Know that you can do this. Things just may not unfold the way you expect. If your baby loves to be near you find ways you can work where they are. I am often working on my laptop while London sleeps in my lap. Or I am on my Ipad beside her as she plays on her mat. I have also set her swing up near my desk so she can see me and feel close to me while I work.
Some days I am able to get everything on my list done other days I may only get one thing done. Be patient and realistic with yourself. I know my days of getting 15 things on my to do list done are over for a while. Which is another reason to hire a VA.
And most of all take deep breaths and remember that this is such a special time in your life that really will go by in a flash! Breathe in that beautiful baby smell, hug those chubby cheeks, and take naps when you can. In 12 months time you will not have a little baby any more, she will have grown and you will have a little more time to take on the world!