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Work at Home Mom – or as I like to call it ‘When your Work Mates act like children Woman'
If you are a work at home mom trying to balance your home based business and your family, and feeling like you are slowly (or quickly) going insane then, this post is for you. You can build a successful business with small children at your side. I have, and so can you!
First, let me share a little of my story so you’ll know that I indeed, have “been there, done that” and am not just talking theory. I’ve built a few businesses over time through baby number four, a pregnancy, baby number five, and on up to my current position of 2 teenagers, one pre-teen a very precocious almost five-year-old and a two-year old. All the while, my kids have been at my feet and I was home with them, I was even homeschooling 2 out the five at one point while building my business. Simple? No! Fast growing? Nope! Worth it? Yep! Every second!
Perhaps like you, when my husband and I decided to have children, I was pretty adamant that one of us would be home with them. Since he was the major breadwinner, that meant I would be home. And, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Trust me it wasn't completely altruistic the cost of childcare was a big factor (especially as the family grew) but I really wanted to be there if I could when they were young.
But, let's face it – it’s hard to make it on one income, so I began looking for a business (plus I suffer from that SAHM with an over active mind syndrome but that's a story for another day). Long story short, an opportunity with a direct sales company came up, and although I was skeptical, I educated myself and jumped in. Over time that opportunity morphed into starting an entirely new business from scratch but through all of it, I had a little person by my side (or two) through all of it (and I still do!).
Now let me tell you this momma, there is not going to be any one size fits all solution for managing your family and business these are just tips that work for me (and I get asked all the time how I manage to run my own business and raise a big family). Take what works for you, change it to suit or just say – “that isn't happening” and find what does work for you!
Here are some ideas that I hope will help you as you move along your journey, especially as a mom who is working on building strong kids and a strong business.
1. Get very clear on your reason “why”. This will sustain you when someone tells you “no”, or things get slow. Make sure your “why” is very powerful to you and that it means more to you than what anyone else might say or think. For me, the ability to create a sustainable lifestyle for my family and not need to have my kids in child care meant more to me than anyone else’s opinion. I have to add here that you may need to include your spouse in this equation as well – trust me I've heard more than once from my husband that I should just get a regular job because it takes less effort, but that's just not me, having a home based business means I get the best (and sometimes the worst) of both worlds – I get to be there with my kiddos AND I get to build a business and work with people who I love.
2. Realize that as a work at home mom with small children, you will have to balance and prioritize in a different way. If you are in direct sales communicate with your sponsor and your team about your commitment, your priorities and how you will balance the two, if you have a different style home business then find an accountability partner or mentor that you can bounce ideas off of. Never feel the need to compromise your values while building your business. I don't and you don’t have to either.
3. Get organized. And, I mean in every area of your life. Organize your business and your life. Set up one calendar with everything about home and business (I use Google Calendar). Mark out times that are strictly family, and every other non-negotiable time in your life. Then, (and this is important) find times each day that you will work your business. Commit to these times, no matter how small the time frame. Be consistent and don’t procrastinate. You can even theme days and work that into your plan – Mail Monday, Team Tuesday, whatever works for you.
4. Ask for help in any way that you can. Talk to your spouse about taking the kids for an hour so you can make calls. Talk about splitting up household duties differently. Invest in help as your budget allows. I know hiring a cleaning lady was a priority for me as my business and profits grew and it made a huge difference to how much money I made – because instead of cleaning those 4 hours the cleaning lady was there I was in my ‘office' (read the garage) working and made enough to cover her wage and mine! The grocery store can even help with this. Buy pre-chopped fresh vegetables; marinated meats; and whatever you can to make things simpler. I am a stickler on healthy meals and nutrition, so I have never resorted to the “fast food” syndrome. Get a crock-pot and use it! Make healthy, delicious meals a snap. Start thinking outside the box!
5. Now I haven't personally done this but I have friends this works well for – you can form a babysitting co-op with other moms in your area. Then, use it and reciprocate. Use the times you babysit other kids as playtime for your kids, and then use the times when your kids are at a friend’s to work your business.
6. Set clear goals and intentions for your business. Make success non-negotiable. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. So what if it takes you seven years to become a top income earner, or hit your income goal? Will it be any less worth it? NO! Make it happen. Work on your mindset and focus on your goal – every step forward gets you closer to it! Work on self-development. MAKE time for it. If you look for time in your schedule, it will never happen. You must make time for your business and make time for the very important task of developing your mindset and growing your business from the inside out. Make part of this taking time for your own self-care as well – you probably spend most of your time worrying about everyone else take some time every week to worry just about yourself!! None of it will work if you break down so take some time to do something that is just for you. A bath, a manicure or even a grocery trip all by yourself (that just happens to include a coffee and a very slow walk around the aisles).
8. Use technology. Today, with the Internet and all of the tools out there, keep in touch: delivering timely information to your leads; training to your team and even putting yourself out there so that people who are ready and looking for your type business NOW can find you through the search engines. Do NOT let technology scare you. There are amazing resources out there for learning how to use tech and social media for your business. My business is almost 100% online!
8. Get your kids involved. From the time kids are two, and maybe even younger, you can find helpful, fun and educational ways to get them involved in your business. In most cases, toddlers can place labels on brochures, on products, envelopes, etc. They can fold letters, stamp postcards, and have a great time “working” alongside mom. Relax, and let go of your perfectionism. When was the last time you paid any attention to how straight the stamp is on a letter you received in the mail? I have a small table set up next to my desk so my little ones can color and cut and make a general mess while I'm working on the computer – sometimes I even stop and color with them (hello adult coloring books!) I try to make them feel a part of what I'm doing and in turn I find they give me a lot more ‘freedom' than when I try to control every move that's happening around me.
9. Get them involved in non-business activities, too. I get my older kids to help cook dinner freeing me up to do things like proofreading or interacting on social media while they work and I can keep an eye on them. Not only does this help you out but you are building life skills for them – I mean they have to move out eventually (right?). They can do laundry too – let go of the reigns. Heck, my two-year-old is a whiz at loading the washing machine!
10. Have a power hour for housework – you've probably heard about the power hour for your business, I use the concept for cleaning – it doesn't need to be a whole hour but set out a time that you literally power through the house and clean up the destruction that comes with kids. Some people do this in the morning and others in the afternoon. I actually split it up do a quick 10-15 minutes when I wake up and tidy up the destruction my husband and teenagers have created the night before (dishes in the sink, socks hidden under the couch you know that kind of glamorous stuff) then I make a cuppa and go about my day. Then in the late afternoon, I get the kids and we do the big clean up of all the mess they've created throughout the day – that way when their dad gets home the house is tidy and everyone is happy! I HATE housework, no I really do, so this is the one area that if I can afford it, I outsource in a flash, but I do like a tidy house. I gave up on the showroom clean house about 3 children ago and now settle for the comfortable tornado went through the place during the day look and aim for tidy by night. Do what works for you!
11. If it fits in with your parenting philosophy then don't be afraid of using technology to avert the kid's attention here and there throughout the day. I use educational apps on the iPad to entertain the almost 5-year-old, the 2-year-old will sit and watch cartoons or movies for short periods of time – I'm not advocating the old TV as baby sitter but short stints here and there.
12. You schedule everything else, so schedule some one on one with your kids too. I have one ritual that never changes and that's spending time tucking the kids into bed. They are slowing down so I spend this time asking them how their day was, rubbing their backs and making sure we connect without distraction it's still the favorite part of the day for my 10-year-old son.
13. Use nap time as your power working time – if you are still blessed enough to have children that nap that is! Even if it's just a set quiet time – use it as your opportunity to make phone calls or catch up on those tasks that need your full concentration.
As a work at home mom, you have the opportunity to offer the great gifts and learning opportunities to your children and your family. You have the ability to raise happy, wholesome kids who get to see what it takes to run a business (skills they won't learn in school), and you have the ability to contribute to the family income without the need for make-up, high heels, or glass ceilings and you get to do it all from home!