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How to Be A Successful Work-at-Home Mom

How to Be A Successful Work-at-Home Mom

Today I’m talking about some lessons I’ve learned for success as a work-at-home mom. When I had my first child, balancing motherhood and my business was chaotic. I had first-time-mom overwhelm and inconsistent childcare. So when Layla came I vowed to have a set plan.

So here are my tips for my fellow creative entrepreneurs who are also raising littles!

How to be a successful work at home mom
1. Be clear with clients about your work hours

My new client packet says 10-4 Monday through Thursday. Of course I often work beyond that (love my Netflix + assembly nights!), but it manages everyone’s expectations right from the start. As a work-at-home mom, I really try not to do any real work on Fridays beyond email so I can focus fully on my kids that day. (Boomerang for Gmail has been so helpful with this. It allows you to schedule when to send emails so clients don’t know you’re on email at 9pm on a Sunday night!)

2. Put your phone in another room

A stationer friend gave me this tip and it’s been amazing. When the phone is nearby it’s so easy to do a quick Instagram sesh or check the inbox. But removing the temptation is the easiest way to stay present.

3. Get really good at working in spurts

Plan, plan plan! Unless I go to a coffee shop, there is still at least one kid usually in my house. Even with a babysitter here, I may need to stop working to nurse or do some other home or mom task. Consecutive hours of uninterrupted work are rare, so that’s why I start every day with a plan. In Evernote I plan my week every Sunday evening, noting 3 things I need to get done each day. (Read more about my 3-things daily planning here). Things shift as the week goes on, so I usually reassess each night before bed. This has been invaluable in feeling accomplished + organized at the end of the day! You’d be amazed at how productive you can be with just 30 minutes when you don’t waste time figuring out what needs to be done next.

how to survive being a work at home mom
4. Get help

No matter how good you are at multi-tasking, it’s really valuable to know when you’ll have a block of time to work uninterrupted. (And we all know multi-tasking doesn’t always yield the best results for quality work!) If your kids sleep well, nighttime is great, but some days you’re just so gassed from watching them that you just want to sleep or unwind with some TV + wine. I am fortunate to have Finley in school and a nanny that comes a few mornings a week to watch the baby. This way I am able to schedule meetings or anything that requires 100% of my focus. If that’s not an option for you, have an afternoon where a friend watches her kids and yours, and another afternoon where you do the same.

5. Give yourself a break

Each day is different, which is part of the fun of being an entrepreneur, but it also has its challenges. Some days I give my 3-year-old a half-hour extra of TV so I can get a time-sensitive task done, and often I’m checking email while I’m nursing. I used to beat myself up for not being present all the time, but now I know that’s an impossible standard. I get to be with my kids a ton which I love, and they get to see first-hand their mom working hard. Though mom guilt never goes away, don’t let it cripple your creativity!

(All photos by Stories of Sentiment)

I’d love to hear about your challenges + successes as a work-at-home mom with a comment below!

Looking for more working mom inspiration? Check out this post! And be sure to follow on Instagram for daily happenings around The Shannon house!

xo, Sandy
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Small Business Mom

There must be something in the water, because as I was gearing up to write this personal blog post I came across a couple from other fellow wedding vendors on the same subject, including one from the fabulous Ashley Therese Photography.

Finley caught a nasty cold last week, so I kept her out of daycare to rest + recover. The only thing I had to do that day when I made the decision was cancel a doctor’s appointment; no boss to call, no out-of-office message to post. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the downside of balancing a business + a family: that there is no one to cover my “desk”, that much of my personal time is spent working. However, that day I really clung to the upside. Being my own boss means making my own hours, and an hour I choose to be with my daughter is one I never regret.

Finley has recently become obsessed with my phone. I showed her some videos of her and now that is her #1 favorite activity. I try to play this card only when I really need it (e.g. when doing her pigtails), but if she even sees me look at my phone she races over expecting a viewing party. Her latest obsession has forced me to put down the phone (and hide it behind a couch pillow), quiet the noise of email + social media, and be present. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about multi-tasking, but there’s a difference between management + distraction. I now work smarter (and try to still always get my 3 things done each day) as I have a newfound respect for the gift of free time. I still fall down the rabbit hole of Instagram, and have already failed at my goal to go to yoga once a week in 2016, but I’m trying not to waste energy beating myself up for things like that.

That day I let the feeling of gratitude wash over me. I’m grateful for two jobs that I work my butt off for, that fulfill me in different + wonderful ways.

#acolorstory-1

lara-casey-making-things-happen-ask

{Photo Credit: Lara Casey}

Looking for more working mom inspiration? Check out this fabulous post!

xo, Sandy
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Three Things

As a new mom, what I’m finding incredibly challenging is accepting unfinished business. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I want to tackle everything right now. Now that I am home full time it seems one thing crossed off the to-do list leads to five more added. I’ll clean out my inbox and see a corner of my office that obviously hasn’t seen a swiffer duster since the Bush era. It’s like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole, and it was leaving me feeling unsatisfied each day. I knew I had to put a stop to this, or the frustration would eat my alive. I read about this successful entrepreneur who made a point to do three things each day. No matter what else happened in those 24 hours, she’d say “I want to do these three things”, and not “I have to”. I took this for a spin, and it has been fantastic. Each evening I write on a virtual post-it three things I want to tackle the next day. One must be business related and one must be personal. The first benefit is that it keeps me focused; I veer off-course much less often. The second is the sense of gratification at the end of the day, knowing that I accomplished the three things I committed to that morning. Most days I get more than 3 things done, of course, but I’m learning to set myself up for success and not disappointment.

So if you’re a new mom, an old mom, or just an overwhelmed human being in need of a pat on the back, I highly recommend giving this a shot.

Now it’s on to folding laundry and working on a new client quote.

Finley paper

Finley’s objection to me taking notes on this blog post idea during our playtime.

xo, Sandy
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New Year, New Perspective

This year so much has changed: I quit my day job, became a mom, and took my business in places that three years ago seemed like a far-off dream.

Balancing baby + business will be a never-ending venture, so this year the theme is “small wins”. What I find holding me back often is confidence. Whether it’s as a mom or designer, I waste so much energy in my head, over-thinking. So instead I want to try + celebrate the to-do list that gets done, however minor the tasks may seem. A day with clean dishes, a happy baby + a good design or two is a day worth patting myself on the back. And I’ll remind myself progress, not perfection. I hope you’ll do the same for yourselves, too.

I still have dreams (a feature in Martha Stewart Weddings doesn’t seem laughable), but now I see the value in the small victories. The pessimist might perceive this as lowering one’s standards, but really it’s just about accepting that divided energy yields different results. I’m going to celebrate winning the battles and not the war. I’m thankful for the energy + joy this business still infuses in me; it’s an energy like no other. So cheers to 2015! I hope you all treat yourself with love + patience in the year to come!

View More: http://aprinceportrait.pass.us/styledshootdec13

(Photo Cred: Anaise Prince Photography)

xo, Sandy
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A New Red Door

Before the baby arrived, we wanted to complete a slew of home improvement projects: a new fence, a paved driveway, and a freshly painted house. I convinced my husband that a red door would look fabulous, and of course I was right. But as I got home that day to see it for the first time, I got a little choked up. It was because Roseville Designs paid for this door.

As creative business owners, we don’t work simply for the money. Of course it’s important, but the main drive has to be passion for what we do; otherwise failure is imminent. In a recent webinar hosted by Ashlee Proffitt, she discussed the importance of defining what success means to you in your business. I thought about it again when the bill came for the housework, and I made a hefty transfer from my business account to my personal one to cover the costs. This, I thought, was success: doing what you love for a living.

Let’s be clear, Roseville’s not buying The Shannon Family summer home in Nantucket any time soon. And a formula that works now will most likely need to be reevaluated as life changes and an industry shifts. If there’s one important lesson I’ve learned as a small business owner, it’s that you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to stay hungry + motivated. But today I decided to bask in the glory a bit, as the sun shined on my new red door.

Red Door

xo, Sandy
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