I have had 3 babies since my work-at-home job adventure started in 2006. Since my little ones were the inspiration for staying out of the job force, it only seemed fitting that I work them into my career, giving them highest priority when traveling, scheduling work time, and conducting business day-to-day.
To be honest, however, it has been a struggle. As a mom who has had all of her babies by c-section (yes, that's SIX surgeries) and who also works with her husband to have them educated at home, it's a daily exercise in patience, hard-work, and perspective. With the newborns, it's also an exercise in insanity. I literally feel like I lose my mind for the first 18 months after they are born.
It can be done, but it is trying. I couldn't have done it without these survival tips!
1. Lower expectations.. somewhere. Most of us can't afford to let job duties slide, especially if we are the main breadwinners for our families. So, that means something else has got to give. In my case, it's the housework. Our home gets tidied up for company, and it's usually a 48-hour marathon of dusting, laundry, organizing, and --sometimes -- even hiding stuff. But it works. And the rest of the time, I do daily household tasks but never get it quite company ready.
Yes, we give up the luxury of having friends and family pop by anytime we want. We aren't the house that everyone clamors to hang out at. But this is what we gave up when we decided to have a home business, and I'm becoming OK with that.
2. Sleep when (and where) you can. That old saying "sleep when the baby sleeps" should really say "sleep when you can." If I sleep when the baby sleeps, I'll never get anything done! But I can be creative about when I sleep. If the infant sleeps from 8pm-1am each night, and then from 2-8 am, I can use the first sleeping session to work, and the second to rest. Yes, that's only 6 hours of sleep, but it's so much better than nothing. Also, if baby is fussy, or you are super tired, crashing in the recliner is not unheard of or ill-advised. I've slept on the floor when I've worried about waking the baby up (we have a small home). I've also slept on planes, in cars, or anywhere else I can catch a snoozer during really rough weeks. I rarely drive if I can get away with it.
3. Outsource. If you've been putting off hiring extra help, such as a VA or accountant, there will never be a better time to do so than after a baby. Start getting the person on board before the baby comes, so you can train and have everything running smoothly before you walk away. (For tips on determining where you can use help, check out our guide to outsourcing.) It's possible to get away with having guest posters, if you blog, as well. Think creatively about how to stockpile up completed work to ease your post-baby transition.
4. Take care of yourself. I'm so guilty of skipping meals, forgoing my much-needed post-baby nap, or overworking around the house. STOP! If you get sick, everything in your business will suffer. Your family can't handle a cranky Mommy. Get what you need, when you need it. If that means hiring a sitter or making an older child do more chores so you can have a moment to play Candy Crush in your bathrobe, do it. Those little moments with good coffee or some time with a riveting read will help fuel you up to do awesome things.
5. Love baby. I get in those moods where I'm frustrated that "the baby always needs me". Yeah, for awhile babies do need you, especially if you are breastfeeding while working from home. But then, they grow up sooo quickly. I find that a good way to center myself and understand that the crazy-baby-while-working juggling act is temporary is to go back into my photos and look at pictures of my older kids when they were babies. I would die to get some of the moments back. Time with baby is now.... cherish it.
And, if you find that loving baby is hard, especially with deadlines looming, sleep in short supply, and a household of other family members making demands on your time, go ahead and find a business colleague who has been through it to just vent to. (Like here in the comments... or on our Facebook page!)
So, what areas can you focus on to make post-baby business manageable? What questions do you have for a mom who's been there, done that? Let me know in the comments!