This week’s Stay-At-Home-Something Story comes from my old friend Angie Pope. Angie and I attended bible college together way back in the day. She is a super-talented designer and the mom of two gorgeous kids. Angie shares some great tips on how to balance life/work load at home.
I founded my business, LaLuna Designs in 2012. After graduating from the Art Institute, I realized design jobs were hard to fin, but I did still have the pesky chore of repaying my student loans. That same year, I also got pregnant and I knew I wanted to stay home full-time with my son.
I was fiddling around with designing my own baby shower invitations, and figured, why not do this for other people? And so LLD was born. It started out with just a few orders trickling in every week, and then once I was able to really dedicate more time to adding to my design inventory and getting my work ‘seen’, it turned into a full-time job.
My business has given me the opportunity to do what I love and make an income for my family, all while having a fairly flexible work schedule. When I say flexible, I mean, scramble to get a few emails in and a teensy bit of design work managed while the kids tear the house apart!
My daughter was born this past September, and adding a second child to the mix has provided challenging, to say the least! The ‘to-do’ list is never (ever, ever) complete.
Every time I read a blog post or article on ‘working moms’ and ‘stay-at-home moms,’ I never really know where I fit it, because I kind of do both.
My business has been steady enough that I have work tasks every day that I absolutely HAVE to get done. Client deadlines, emails, website maintenance, bookkeeping, etc., and then as any stay-at-home mom knows, days are rarely predictable with young kiddos at home, but I’ll talk about what a typical day is for us. It’s always changing, and my ‘ideal’ day really doesn’t happen very often, but when you’ve got kids, you learn that you just have to go with the flow and BE FLEXIBLE!
A Typical Day
Here’s our situation: My son is nearly 4 and he did a bit of daycare for a while, but he’s currently home full-time. My daughter is 9 months old (at home full-time as well,) My husband works a full-time job, with often times crazy, 12 hour shifts, and his days off change every week. We don’t live anywhere near family, so having grandparents, aunts, etc., watch the kids isn’t an option right now.
My typical ‘work from home’ day goes something like this:
I like to have some type of structure / routine, for all of our sanity— so we eat breakfast at the table together most days (Just the kids and myself, hubby is usually working).
After breakfast, we head to the gym. I get 2 free hours of childcare a day, per child, so the gym is my saving grace! Now, please don’t get the impression that I’m all into fitness or something. Did you read the part about the childcare? 2 blissful, kid-free hours are often the only motivation I have to drag myself into the gym!
I try to get in an hour workout, aka, ride the stationary bike or elliptical while I watch Netflix, and then I shower at the gym. This has been a lifesaver, as my daughter is extremely clingy, and on days I miss the gym, it’s hard to even be able to put her down long enough to get out of PJs. Truly, my time at the gym is good for my morale and really starts my day off ‘right’. I do feel better once I’ve gotten some exercise, and any SAHM will tell ya the wonders a shower and some makeup will do for your mood!
I try to get my daughter down for a morning nap after the gym. If I’m *super duper lucky* she’ll sleep for about an hour. My son is fairly good at independent play, so he’ll either play solo or watch some iPad for a bit while I try to start answering some emails, and getting any other pressing business taken care of. If my gal doesn’t nap.. as often she doesn’t, I just try my best to spend 30 min to an hour getting done what I need to get done. Many times, I hold her in my lap while I work on my computer. It’s not the easiest, but it gets the job done!
At least a couple of days a week, I try to get the kids out of the house to do something. Story time at the library, the splash pad or beach, just something for an hour or two. Helps keep us all from going insane.
Next comes lunch. If we’re out, I’ll grab drive-thru. Otherwise, I try to sit down with the kids and eat lunch with them— sometimes I bring my laptop to the table and get some work done if I’m really behind. In the afternoons, my son goes into his room for rest time even if he doesn’t nap, he has to play quietly and calmly for at least an hour. Again, if I’m super lucky, my daughter will nap at the same time, and I can get another hour or so of work in.
My husband’s work schedule is a bit odd— sometimes, he’ll have weekdays off, and when he does, he will take the kiddos out of the house for me for a few hours. When that happens, it’s AMAZING, because I can get so much done. I can scramble and get the bulk of my work done for a few days in a row, so that I don’t have to stress and don’t feel stretched so thin.
Evenings are insane and always seem a bit chaotic, with dinner, baths, etc. so any other work I need to get done, I’ve usually got to do after the kiddos are in bed. My daughter goes to bed at 6:30 and my son around 8, so for that hour and a half, I do some housework, clean up from dinner, spend some time with him, and sometimes get a couple of work orders / emails crammed in.
After he’s down, I spend typically about an hour on work— more if I need to. It’s important to me to have some ‘me’ time at the end of the night, so ideally I like to have at least an hour to read or watch a TV show— something to relax.
Weekends, I’m OFF work. It’s my goal not to even open my computer or my email on my phone. We all need a break! We live in such a work-minded culture, I think it’s very important to show my kids that taking a break and having down time are necessary. I like to take at least 2 days completely off from work.
Here are some of my biggest tip to other work-from-home mammas:
1.Have a routine, but be flexible!
It’s all about balance, a happy medium, if you will; kids need structure, and I’ve learned from experience that we all have a better day if we know what to expect. However, unexpected things do happen— kids get sick, friends need favors, the dog pukes on your rug, etc., and you’ve just got to roll with the punches.
2.Have small, realistic goals.
I always have a long ‘to-do’ list. Always. Things are constantly getting put on the back burner… but when I’m overwhelmed, I think of one thing I can accomplish for the day. One attainable goal. Maybe it’s returning an email I’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s finally making that Doctor’s appointment. Maybe it’s putting away the laundry from last week. Getting one thing checked off the list always makes me feel better!
3. TAKE A BREAK!
Don’t work your life away. I am a firm believer that taking a break from the busy-ness of life is just as important…err scratch that, MORE important, than the work itself. If you don’t take a break, you will quickly and easily feel overwhelmed, overworked, and potentially even begin to resent the work that you do.
I’m Angie, owner of LaLuna Designs, LLC, an online creative stationery boutique. I specialize in event invitations, largely for showers and birthdays, but I have fun doing stationery items of all sorts. I’m originally from Colorado, but I married into the military, so I’ve journeyed from CO to Hawaii, to North Carolina, and now reside in sunny Florida. I’m a total beach bum, and one of my absolute favorite things to do is paddle board.