Balancing work and family when you’re employed outside of the home is challenging enough, but how do you balance your career and personal life when you work from home while raising kids — and you’re pregnant? In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen seeks insight from women who’ve been there, done that — for their tips on managing the expansion of business, and family!
working at home
Linsey Knerl is the founder of Knerl Family Media, which publishes sites like LillePunkin.com and 1099Mom.com. As a homeschooling mom of five who runs a successful business from home — and is currently pregnant with number six — her advice in dealing with the pregnancy exhaustion and fatigue that accompanies balancing family-rearing and working from home has everything to with priorities. Make time for your sleep schedule —and schedule everything else around it!
“All of my social media is scheduled in advance, and I do much of the work for clients well ahead of deadline. I find that morning sickness is horrible during the first few hours after waking, so I spend that time reviewing what I’ve already done, checking the news, and going through emails — but not forcing myself to tackle stressful projects during the nauseous hours,” says Knerl. Additionally, she handles other tasks in the wee hours of the morning, in a “make lemonade out of lemons” approach to pregnancy insomnia.
Outsource when you need help
Several of the pregnant work-at-home-moms I spoke to said now is not the time to be superwoman; take all the help you can get from family and friends who offer. If you already use virtual or onsite assistants, start giving them more responsibility and “groom” them to take on more complex work to help keep business afloat when the baby comes. (If you don’t have that kind of help, scour reputable independent contractor sites like Elance for a virtual assistant you can lean on — even if it’s sporadically).
Stacy Dallman, mother of three (and expecting her fourth) and the founder of the Nookums Paci-Plushies brand, says it’s critical to devise a plan with your partner — before you break. “Your partner may not understand the toll that being pregnant takes on your body. Make it known that your body has physical limitations and if you don’t receive help in keeping the household together, then things are going to go to the wayside for the next nine months!”
Be forgiving of your own schedule
Being a work-at-home mom means your work set-up is inherently nontraditional. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t tackle everything by 5:00 p.m., and don’t feel guilty for working on the weekend. “Since the pregnancy, I’ve had to break up my day into more manageable chunks, including working a little on the weekends,” says Knerl. “If having a few hours to get caught up on a Saturday keeps me running healthy the rest of the week, it doesn’t really matter how others perceive it.”
Learn from your challenges now
Tiring as it may be, Knerl says that learning how to juggle pregnancy, raising other children and working from home is the perfect trial run for the chaos and blessings that having a new baby brings — particularly if you won’t get much of a break from work when baby comes. “Work out the kinks now, and understand that things like vacuuming can wait.” Note what changes you’ll need to make to your current operations in light of the changes in your life, as well. If you’ve turned the world upside down to honor last-minute client requests in the past, for example, but know you can’t meet those demands with more kids, set more realistic parameters now. Likewise, control the stresses you can: If the morning rush of getting kids out the door leaves you drained now —consider what it will be when there’s a newborn added to the mix. Perhaps you and your spouse can workout a less taxing system for handling school drop-offs, or even bring in some help to get the kids ready for school, while you work.
Working Mom 3.0
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of “working mom,” as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed, stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine “having it all” on her own time and terms.