How To Be A Successful Work-At-Home Mum by Eb Gargano
Being a work-at-home mum (WAHM) is the dream scenario for many women – the best of both worlds- but juggling kids and a business can be tough so Eb Gargano the blogger behind Productive Blogging and Easy Peasy Foodie and mum of two, shares what helps her be a successful work-at-home mum.
Over to the fabulous Eb!
As mums we used to have a stark choice: work outside of the home and have someone else look after our kids while we worked OR be a stay at home mum and not work at all. For many of us, neither choice was a great option and the ‘solution’ of part-time work has for some, felt the WORST of all worlds: maximum guilt and a stunted career.
But the internet has revolutionised the way we work and opened up a new possibility–being a work-at-home mum, a ‘mumpreneur’ or as Vicki would put it a #mumboss!! (You have read her awesome book, right?)
Instead of having to make the choice between work OR kids, the WAHM gets to keep her kids at home with her if she wishes while starting and growing a creative business that is both fulfilling for her, AND positive for her family life too. Unlike part-time jobs which can often be unfulfilling and badly paid, the WAHM gets to be her own boss and gets paid like one too!!
Sounds a bit like a dream, right? But being a WAHM can be the dream scenario. I am living proof of that.
As I write this article, my daughter is downstairs painting and my son is playing Swingball in the back garden. They both know where they can find me – I’m in my office, and they know that they can pop in and see me any time for a quick chat. They also know that later, when I’ve finished my first draft, I’ll have time to play.
This afternoon we’ll take a trip to the park, or maybe go on a bike ride. After that, I’ll catch up with my emails and social media while they chill out in front of the TV. I’ll be there at dinner time and I’ll be there to read them a bedtime story before catching up with some admin or housework before it’s my bedtime too!
It’s not always the easiest of paths (especially when your working mum friends are talking about their work Christmas party or are heading out to the pub while you have to stay home and work late because you’re on a deadline but for many of us, it is definitely the BEST path.
I honestly have to pinch myself sometimes and remind myself that this is real, that I get to stay home with my kids doing something I love as my job AND I get to make decent money from it. WIN-WIN-WIN!
So how do you make it work for you? How do you manage to juggle full-time parenting and building a business from home without going bonkers or dropping all of the balls? Here are my top tips for how to be a successful WAHM…
1. Keep business hours
I don’t mean 9-5! The great thing about being a WAHM is that you can set your own business hours to fit around your kids and this is likely to look different for each of us. For me, it’s 9-3 while the kids are at school, then usually 4.30-6 while the kids are playing happily or watching TV and 8-9 when they’re in bed. I try not to work at the weekends but sometimes I work on Saturday mornings while the kids are at tennis if I have a lot on.
For you it may be during nap times, early in the morning, late at night or while the kids are at nursery-whatever works for you and your family. It certainly doesn’t have to be 8 hours a day. The key, however, is to treat your business hours as if you are ‘at work’.
The great temptation as a Work-At-Home Mum is to do anything and everything BUT work: laundry / hoovering / emptying the dishwasher / ironing / you name it but the reality is that unless you work on your business in a work-like manner, you won’t have a business!
Sure, there will be times when your kids are sick, or there’s something else way more important (Sports Day, school nativity, school trip), but these should be the rare exceptions, not the norm.
2. Give your kids your full attention
The flip side of this is that when it is non-work time you should try to give your kids your full attention – quality time with you that is uninterrupted by the phone or social media.
When it’s non- work time in my schedule, I do my very best to ensure I don’t keep checking my phone or sneaking off to my office to work but that my attention is fully focused on having fun with my kiddos.
I’ll hold my hands up here and say I’m no saint. There are plenty of times when I forget this ‘rule’ and get suckered into a big discussion on my Facebook group or find myself flicking through Instagram, but I TRY!!
And that’s my recommendation to you – TRY YOUR BEST to make work time ‘work time’ and kid time ‘kid time’. And when it all goes wrong, see point 9!!
3. Take your opportunities
That said, there are times when your kids just don’t need you. They are happily playing in the garden by themselves, engrossed in LEGO or a book, watching TV, doing a swimming lesson or having an unexpected nap so make the best use of that time by fitting in a little extra work. It’s amazing how frequently these little nuggets of ‘extra time’ start appearing when you start looking for them. Learn to notice them and use them productively.
I use these little spare moments to do things like replying to emails, checking social media, commenting on some of my favourite blogs, checking my Google analytics, planning out a blog post or drafting an email to my subscribers. That way when it’s my ‘real’ work hours I can make them really count rather than frittering them away on social media etc.
And want a really super awesome tip? Listen to helpful podcasts or audio books (Mumboss is on Audible) while you do the housework. I do this and it’s amazing! It makes an otherwise dull chore super useful. Not only do I get a clean and tidy house but I also get to learn and grow, and come up with fab new ideas for blog posts and my business!
4. Become organised
So you’ve managed to carve out a few precious hours a day to work on your blog/business- great but not if you don’t use your time wisely. This is especially important if you are a WAHM. If you work a 9-5 in an office and spend an hour daydreaming before cracking on with your real work, that’s OK but as a WAHM, an hour may be all you’ve got!
You need to prioritise your tasks and focus on what’s most important, then hit the ground running. Don’t be tempted to multi-task – multi-tasking might work in a traditional job when you have time to finish everything (though even there it’s not great), but as a WAHM multi-tasking means you’ll just end up with lots of half finished things and nothing ever gets done. Instead, discipline yourself to focus on one task at a time and get it done. Mono-tasking is the new multi-tasking – and it really works!
Write a killer to do list and stick to it (as much as possible!). I write my to do list in the evening which I find super helpful for 3 reasons: It means a get to relax in the evening and not work or fret about #allthethings that have to be done tomorrow. It means I sleep better (because I’m not worrying) and the next day I can hit the ground running.
I also find ‘batching’ a super useful technique as a WAHM. Instead of doing lots of different tasks every day (writing blog posts, scheduling to social media, writing newsletters, commenting on blogs…), I batch up a whole week’s (or month’s) worth of one task to do all at once.
For example, I might sit down one evening and schedule all my pins for a month in Tailwind. I write all my daily prompts for my Facebook group once a week, on a Tuesday. I often take all my food photos for a month in one session. And I deal with emails once or twice a day, rather than in dribs and drabs throughout the day. Focussing on just one task at a time makes me super-efficient and my days less ‘bitty’.
If you want to find out more tips and techniques for being super organised, grab yourself a copy of my FREE ebook Blog Smarter Not Harder –a step-by-step guide to getting more organised, wasting less time and achieving your goals, plus worksheets to help you put it all into practice.
5. Involve your kids
A great way to juggle work and kids is to do both at the same time and involve your kids in your work. For example, I get the kids involved in Pinterest – they love helping me decide which boards I should pin my pins to (and I don’t think it will be long before they are doing Pinterest for me – lol!!). They both have cameras (cheap kiddie ones!) so when I am taking food photos for Easy Peasy Foodie, they come and take photos of my food setups too. And they love to help me do social media and will often help me by hitting the ‘like’ button or suggesting a comment I could make.
With all these things, I always take the opportunity to talk to my kids about what I am doing and why and let them join in as much or as little as they want to.
6. Be honest with your kids
I think being honest with your kids is really important and I am always 100% honest with my kids about my work (in an age appropriate way, obviously). I think working from home can be really beneficial in helping children understand the world better and become more responsible human beings.
It’s a great way, for example, to help kids understand that money doesn’t grow on trees but that we have to work to earn money and that different people do that in different ways. In our case, Daddy works in an office and Mummy is a blogger. I explain how that earns me money and why sometimes that means I have to work rather than play with them but that I will play with them as soon as I can.
Children have this tendency to fill in the blanks if we are not honest with them. A few weeks ago a friend’s daughter said to her, ‘You love running more than me!’ – something that wasn’t true at all it’s just my friend had recently taken up running and really loved it… but nowhere near as much as she loves her daughter, obviously! If we are constantly blogging, it can be easy for our kids to think ‘Mummy loves her blog more than me’. I am always really keen to stress that, yes I love blogging BUT I love my kids waaaaay more. By explaining why I blog and how that relates to our life (house, food, clothes, toys and holidays!) it helps them to get a sense of perspective.
7. Keep the emotional bank account topped up
Another way to ensure that your kids don’t come to resent your blog is to ensure you keep their emotional bank account filled up. This is a great concept I first came across in Steven Covey’s ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’. And it really applies when it comes to kids.
The idea is that you always put in more than you take out, so your kids’ emotional bank accounts are always in credit (by spending lots of quality time with them). That way if you suddenly HAVE to drop everything and work (sudden really great sponsored post opportunity, your website goes down, last minute event invite…), you can make a big withdrawal (i.e. work when it should be ‘kid time’) and still be in credit with your kids.
Conversely, if you are always in emotional debt with your kids (because you are ‘always’ working), this is likely to lead to tears and tantrums – unhappy kids and an unhappy mummy!
8. Ask for help / delegate
Don’t go it alone! If you try to work, run a home and bring up kids all by yourself you are likely to crack – so don’t be shy about asking for help. Ask your partner/parents to look after the kids on a Saturday morning so you can get a big project finished or do some blog related admin. Ask a friend to have your kids over for a playdate so you can catch up on email or social media scheduling. Pay for someone to clean your house/do your laundry etc. so you can use more of those precious ‘work’ hours on your business rather than household chores.
And if you have the finances, why not pay a VA or a social media manager to take some of the more mundane/routine blogging jobs off your hands so you can focus on the stuff that only YOU can do?
Don’t forget that you can also turn to the blogging community for help. If you have a busy month and don’t feel you have time to write blog posts, why not ask a few blogging mates to write guest posts for you? Or do a quick roundup post and ask in Facebook groups for contributions. Good places to ask are Vicki’s Honest Mum Group and my Productive Blogging Community.
9. Don’t beat yourself up / Give yourself grace
I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news BUT…at some point it’s going to all go pear-shaped! As I said at the outset, being a WAHM is not always easy. It requires a certain amount to juggling and sometimes you are going to drop one of those balls. DON’T beat yourself up – you can’t be perfect all of the time and you won’t be.
One of the things I love about Vicki is she’s always talking about #mumguilt and how we shouldn’t have it and she’s dead right!
You are doing a great job – look at you: you’re raising great kids, creating a warm and inviting home AND running your own business – you are practically superwoman! So when things go wrong, give yourself grace, accept it and move on.
10. Take a break!
This is HUGE! You need to take breaks. Juggling kids and work is a tough job (tougher than we are given credit for) and you NEED a break. In an ideal world that would be of the all-inclusive 5 star tropical island kind of break but, back in the real world, there are lots of ‘mini breaks’ you can take…
Perhaps it’s taking a day off to go shopping or have a spa day while your partner looks after the kids, maybe it’s a night out with the girls or a regular coffee date with a friend or perhaps it’s as simple as taking yourself of to the gym or for a run, or having a hot bath, reading a magazine and having an early night!
One thing’s for sure, if you don’t take care of yourself, your work and your kids will suffer. So make sure ‘self-care’ is a priority too.
So guys, I hope you’ve found my tips helpful.
Do you have any extra successful WAHM tips you would add? Any questions? Let me know in the comments below! I’ll be sure to pop over and answer them.
My huge thanks to Vicki for letting me guest post on her blog and if you want more tips and tricks on how to be a successful WAHM, head over to Productive Blogging where I’ve got plenty more and don’t forget to bag yourself a free copy of my book Blog Smarter Not Harder!!
Eb Gargano is a professional blogger who blogs at easypeasyfoodie.com and productiveblogging.com. Drawing on her business and marketing background, she has turned blogging into a successful career. Known as ‘the organised blogger’ in blogging circles, she is passionate about sharing her business, blogging and productivity tips and seeing bloggers turn their blogs into successful businesses, without burning out. She lives in Sussex, in the UK, with her husband and two children (aged 8 and 9), and when not blogging, she can be found running through the beautiful Sussex countryside with her local jogging group or curled up on the sofa with a good book.