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I'm Jessica (my friends call me Breezy) and I am a photographer serving the Sioux City area.
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Making the switch from “working mom” to “working-at-home mom” was a huge challenge for me. It was equal parts liberating and frustrating. I suddenly found all this “free time,” and didn’t have a clue how to structure my days for maximum productivity. I found myself juggling a toddler and a business, doing all the things but not doing any of them well.
Taking care of kids and a household while also meeting deadlines and making your own money takes a little creativity and a lot of dedication. I don’t think dedication will be an issue – you’re a #momboss and a total badass, so I am sure dedication is your middle name. Surprisingly, my middle name isn’t dedication, but is GSD (getting sh*t done).
What I can help you with is being creative with your approach to working at home, so that your hours are structured well and you say productive. With a ton of trial and error, which, let me be honest, is still in progress, I’ve found a few big pitfalls that make life much worse for me. Some of these “things to avoid” are going to see completely counter-intuitive, but what could it hurt to give them a try? If you’re reading this blog, I am assuming you’re feeling frazzled and unproductive, so anything can be better than that, right?
AVOID DOING TOO MUCH
You hear me right…do less!
What kind of boss babe am I to think that doing less is going to get me further in the game? Well, doing anything and everything was getting me further behind, so it was time to change that thinking.
It is not physically possible for me to take care of my son and husband, take care of the housework, communicate with my clients, shoot and edit my sessions, get my workouts in, and still go above and beyond following all the latest trends in business practices. I just can’t do it all. I would much rather do a few things well than a bunch of things poorly.
Therefore, my idea of doing less applies to both mom work and business work. Focus only on the things that mean the most or that will yield the most return. For me, this means I do one chore a day and tackle only two blog posts a week. It means I do less posting on social media, I only check email two times a day, and I don’t worry about providing my son with Pinterest-worthy sensory bins every day.
AVOID “WINGING IT”
I have to remind myself literally every day “fail to plan, and plan to fail.” What that means is, if you don’t go into each work day with a plan, you are going to drop the ball big time.
A plan is more than scheduling your hours with meetings and tasks, it’s mapping out your biggest priorities each day. Its’s knowing which hours will be dedicated to work and which will be focused on the children. It also includes planning your errands, your meals, and knowing ahead of time exactly how your day is going to flow.
Yep, my Type-A side if fully loving this! But even if you don’t have a planner personality, you can still benefit from taking five minutes and writing out your appointments, tasks, goals, and ideas for each day. I choose to do this each night before going to bed in a “brain dump” fashion. This helps me get all of the worries out of my head and form a plan of attack for the next day with intention. Try this for a week, and see what happens.
Oh my gosh, multi-tasking was all the rage for a few years, huh? Well, news flash, it’s dead!
Stop laughing at me, and hear me out. We not see that multi-tasking equals crappy work. You cannot do a task well when you’re also juggling five other tasks because it’s not getting your full focus and your best effort. It’s like when your computer gets mad because you have too many windows open, it’s not the most efficient way to work.
If you need a buzz word to feel like you’re with it, the new practice is called “batch working.” This means grouping similar tasks together and working on that, and ONLY that, for a limited amount of time. This strategy can work wonders for work-at-home moms, because you can crank out some amazing work during nap-time when you cut out all the distractions.
If I have one free hour during a play date, I usually write blog posts. During nap time, I do all of my photo sorting and editing. When my husband plays with my son before supper, I answer emails and respond to social media posts. This works much better than trying to write a blog post while getting distracted by an incoming email, only to realize I need to finishing editing and send out a gallery. In that scenario, the blog sounds like poo, the client got a message that was hard to understand, and the photos did not look their absolute best.
I would choose single-tasking or “batch working” any day. The key is to shut off all notifications and close down all other applications. Do not let emails and messages beep wile you’re cranking out content.
AVOID “ALL WORK & NO PLAY”
This one is my biggest downfall and I am sick of it! I chose to work at home because I wanted to build an empire while still enjoying ample time with my kid. Yet, in reality, I was still overworking myself and missing the moments with him.
Mom, you chose to work at home for a reason, and here is your reminder to get back to that reason. Seriously, your clients can wait a couple hours for a response. Those photos can be edited tonight before bed. Those packages can be taken to the post tomorrow, you’ve already missed open hours anyways…oops!
You know what can’t wait? Your kiddo. He/she has to come first. You have to find a way to shut work off for an hour and devote one hundred percent of your attention to the kids. All the mom feels are coming out right now, but those years fly by and as much as he’s driving me nuts, I know I will miss this state at some point. So, you can find me on the floor playing superheroes for a bit, sorry if you’re a client waiting on an email back.
AVOID BEING THE SELFLESS SUPER MOM
There are two big issues here: not taking care of yourself and not asking for help. You must avoid these two things like the plague…no joke!
You know when you ride in an airplane, they say if there’s an emergency, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting someone else? There’s a reason for that. If you’re brain isn’t getting oxygen, it can’t function, and you won’t be an effective helper to anyone else.
Being a work-at-home mom is exactly like a plane going down in an emergency. I am about 65% joking there. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, mind, body, and spirit, then you will not be able to take care of others. Period!
Make yourself a priority: get your workouts in, chug water like it’s going out of supply, eat fuel instead of junk, get a massage once a month, get your nails done, meet with a friend for coffee. None of this is selfish or bad. It will be your lifeline that will keep you going through the tough days.
Likewise, you have to stop thinking you can do it all yourself. As amazing as you are, it still takes a dang village to raise a child. It’s okay to ask your mother-in-law to watch the kids on a Wednesday night, it’s okay to do play date swaps or even service swaps, I would love to take your family photos if you’ll babysit my son once, or twice, it is okay to let your husband cook supper while you sit in the bath and breathe.
Make a short list of ways you can ask for help. Now, since you’re like me, and a bit of a control-freak, choose one of those to do this week. Just one way you can relieve some of the pressure. You can do it – I believe in you!
AVOID THE DESK
This one sounds so silly, but I had to learn, quickly, how to be able to work on the go. The second I sat down at the desk to work is when my son wanted to be entertained or fed, or honestly, just cuddled for an hour. Instead, I’ve learned how to use my phone as a tool, the computer that it actually is, and make the most of “pockets of time.” Let me be blunt, that usually means I am answering emails in the bathroom, but hey, it gets done!
There are a ton of apps that can help you make the most of your screen time, but you can find the ones that help me the most in this separate post. Take some apps for a test run, get your brain working efficiently with your technology, they are tools made for more than SnapChat, and then shut everything off and get back to your family.
These are just a few pitfalls to avoid as a stay-at-home mom. You may find that there are other things you need to change or manage to ensure quality time is being spent where it belongs. Are you a stay-at-home mom who is running a business? I’d love to know what you’ve found that works for you. Drop those ideas in the comments below and help your fellow “mom-treprenuers” out!
For tips and updates follow me on Insta @jessica_brees