Ep. 017 How I Work from Home 25 Hours a Week (with Only 3 Hours of Childcare!)
If you’re a mom, I’m sure you already know that everything is a delicate balancing act. Weighing out childcare costs vs. income, feeling dedicated to your family while still wanting to maintain your own identity and independence, and the desire to provide more financial support to your family while being scared to branch out on your own and start a business. It’s a lot for anyone to handle.
I’ve gone through many stages while trying to figure out all of those elements. And today I’m going to give you a look at where I started and where I am now.
When I got my first virtual assisting clients, they only needed me a few hours a week each. It was really easy for me to get my work done in the evenings after the kids had gone to bed. But it wasn’t long before those hours grew and grew, and before I knew it, I was working 40+ hours per week, but without a childcare plan. See, I never really intended to work that many hours, but I loved it so much and my clients were becoming more and more reliant on me. I didn’t have an infrastructure set up for that many hours of work! Soon, I was working late into the night and allll weekend. I was bringing in a fantastic income, but I had absolutely no life. It was not worth it at all and not what I had envisioned when I first started on my virtual assistant journey.
So finally it made financial sense for me to put Bobby in daycare 4 days a week. And unfortunately, this is still not what I envisioned! Bobby had just turned 2 when I put him in daycare, but I had started working from home mostly because I wanted to be home with him until he was 3 or 4. So here I was a work-at-home mom, but my littlest one was in daycare!
When we decided to move from Las Vegas to Dallas, I made the decision to cut back on my client work a little bit, so that we could avoid putting Bobby back in daycare or preschool for a while. My goal now is to have him in preschool in the fall, but for now, he’s home with me everyday! And I’ve managed to put in about 25 hours of work a week, even with a very busy 2.5 year old at home all day and an 8 year old that comes home from school at 3 pm.
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Here are some of the ways I’ve made it work:
Waking up super early:
This is very, very hard for me. A constant struggle, really. I have been a night owl my entire life. I really believe that if I followed my natural rhythm, I’d be up until midnight each night and then wake up at 8 or 9 am. But I do not do my best work late at night, so I’ve had to adjust. My husband also wakes up really early, and usually leaves the house around 5 am. So I’ve asked him to help motivate me to get up when he does by making me a fresh pot of coffee before he leaves for work. It’s so sad and silly, but somehow, knowing that I’ll have coffee the second I’m out of bed makes it soooo much easier for me to get going. Then, once I’m up, I usually have the most productive hour and a half of work that I’ll have all day. I dedicate this time to tasks that require the most focus and attention, and also to urgent tasks. I’m never entirely sure where the day will take me, so I want to make sure I finish important things right away. By about 6:45, I’ve gotten a really great start to the day, then I get my daughter Clare off school and me and Bobby are back home by 8.
Utilizing screen-time strategically:
I’m sure that if I just glued Bobby to the tv all day, I’d get even more work in, but that is not what I want for him. So I usually let him watch just 1 hour of TV as soon as we get back from dropping off my daughter, usually 2 episodes of Daniel Tiger or Paw Patrol, and that gives me an hour of uninterrupted work. Bobby is usually still sleepy and I’m still trying to wrap up tasks from the morning so it works out great. By 9, I’m usually feeling pretty on top of things and feel comfortable taking a break.
Getting out of the house:
I’ve had days where I’ve tried to stay home all day and work, but it always ends up with Bobby and I being absolutely miserable. And I’m never productive on those days because it’s such a struggle to keep him busy enough for me to be able to do any kind of focused work. So everyday from about 9:30-11:30, Bobby and I get out of the house and do something fun together! There are lots of great parks near our house and a fantastic library that does a story hour. We get to meet other kids and moms. This is the time that makes me fully appreciate the fact that I’m a work-at-home mom. I get to do these things during the day with Bobby and it means so much to me! Getting out of the house even for a couple of hours, is also such good quality time for us, that it doesn’t seem as bad when I do have to turn on the TV for a little while so I can send some emails. We both can always look forward to that couple hours a day where I’m completely unplugged and focused on him.
Hanging on to naptime for as looooong as I can:
Bobby is at that age where he is really starting to fight naptime. But naptime is sooo necessary for my day, not to mention he is an absolute terror in the evening if he hasn’t napped. So I make naptime a priority each day. Having a really solid routine helps, because he knows that it’s happening right after lunch every single day. And sometimes I have to sit with him for 30 minutes to help him fall asleep, but it’s worth it to get that 2 hours of uninterrupted work time. By the time I go to pick up my daughter, I’ve usually gotten a solid 4.5 hours of work done. Then I’ll sometimes work a little bit after my husband gets home.
Blocking out time that I can make calls:
My parents are able to watch Bobby on Thursdays, so I devote those days to client calls. I have standing weekly appointments on the calendar with all of my clients and while my parents are watching Bobby, I get them all done! I like this for tons of reasons. First of all, I’m pretty low-maintenance most of the week, minimal makeup, hair rarely done, ready to be on-the-go with Bobby. That means that hair and makeup is usually one less thing I have to work into my schedule. But on Thursdays, since I know I’ll be on video all day, I can take a little bit more time getting ready. Another thing I like about having all of my calls on one day, is that I’m not interrupted during a busy work day. Sometimes clients show up to meetings late or there are tech issues, and having to deal with that in the middle of a bunch of different tasks can be very distracting. Getting all my meetings taken care of on the same day feels so good to me!
Making some sacrifices:
I’ve had to release my perfectionism in some areas of my life. Yes, I’d love to be the picture perfect Pinterest mom, but my priorities right now are my business and my family and those things take up a LOT of my time. So in this season of life, I’ve had to come to accept that laundry might pile up some weeks, the kitchen mayyy not be spotless, and I’m no longer spending hours baking like I used to. And I’m okay with that. Kind of.
Consider doing a childcare swap with a friend: I feel sooo lucky that I’m finally close to family and can count on them to help me out, but if you’re far from family and not wanting to invest in childcare (trust me, I know how expensive it can be), and recommend arranging an exchange with someone you know and trust. Check in with your friends. I’m sure one of them would be happy to trade you a day a week to hang out with your kids so you can get things done and then you return the favor! I actually believe that trades like this are one of the best ways to build a really strong community and make lifelong friends.
I hope you found some helpful nuggets in there. And I have to admit, I do not have this down to absolute science, and of course, some weeks run more smoothly than others. Being a mom and a business owner is not for the faint of heart, but I have found that it’s absolutely worth it in the end. So to all you mamas out there, find what works for you. And don’t be too hard on yourself. In my eyes, you’re Supermom. If you need support from other work-at-home moms like yourself, make sure to join us in The Support Squad Hangout on Facebook. We’re always happy to listen and offer advice. I’ll see you there. Until next time, boss babe.
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