As some of you know, I’m a mother now. My daughter was born on February the 6th, so she’s almost 4 months old. That’s the exact time my blog started getting less posts, since taking care of her, earning money from my home based business and blogging at the same time are not always coming together easily. She’s an amazing kid, very smart and relaxed, but, even so, working and caring for her are difficult tasks. Here is what I learned from this experience:
1. You will NOT work as you used to, unless you have someone else to care for your baby
I’m more of a ‘control freak’, so I do most of the baby stuff myself. This means that the days when I used to work 10 hours straight are gone. Sure, ideally we shouldn’t aim to work long hours, but sometimes you need to put in a long work day just to be able to provide a good service for your clients.
Let’s say it’s been a balancing act. I had days when I could work 4-5 hours, I had days when I couldn’t work AT ALL, no matter how big my workload was. Weird enough, since she was born, I got many clients, so business is actually thriving, the only issue was finding the time to do all the work.
The best thing is to be open about it with your clients. I told them that I have a newborn and my schedule is a little hectic. Most my clients are parents themselves, so I did find the understanding needed. Those who needed a job done very fast had to look for someone else in the meantime, the others chose to work with me.
2. You need to FOCUS when working
We all preach about the importance of knowing how to work effectively and be productive. Let me say that running a home based business, when you also have a screaming baby by your side, will teach you more about productivity than 100 books and conferences. You will have little time each day to work (usually when the little one is asleep) and a lot of stuff to handle. No time for Facebook or procrastination. The moment those wonderful eyes are shut for a nap, get to work full speed. You might get 5 minutes of work or 3 hours. Regardless, you need to focus.
3. Be prepared for bad financial times
A home based business that doesn’t get all your attention usually means less money. A new baby also means less money, since you’ll have more expenses than you used to (or planned to have). It’s not the time to indulge in too much shopping or leave your guard down when it comes to saving money. We have noticed a big spike in our expenses (formula and the diapers are not cheap), but, fortunately, we were expecting this. My husband’s side of the business is slowly picking up and my income stayed pretty much stable.
4. You will work through exhaustion, sickness, lack of motivation
A baby can be exhausting. Even if I don’t breastfeed (so my daughter’s meals don’t take most of my day) and the baby is usually very happy and doesn’t cry too much, I am TIRED. After 4 days since my c-section, I had to care for her and also slowly resume my work. I have created web designs for my clients when being tired, feeling unwell or stressing about my daughter’s health. There’s no time to waste, when you get those minutes/few hours to do your job, take advantage.
5. No two days are the same
One thing I learned pretty fast: life with a child is not boring, you never know what to expect the next day. You might get a lot of stuff done today, only to find yourself lacking any time for your business the next day. With everything that happens in the life of a newborn, being prepared for this will save you the frustration. Take each day as it comes and do your best to handle the workload and also care for your little one.
6. Learn to work in small ‘bursts’
Some work based on the Pomodoro technique (15 or 25 minutes, 5 minutes break etc.). Well, long gone are those times. Now you might get 4 minutes now, other 10 in about an hour, 3 minutes afterwards, an entire hour etc. In order to still handle my client’s designs, I learned to take advantage of each and every spare minute. Even working for few minutes at a time, if you’re focusing on your work, will help you progress a lot and get the job done.
These four months have been AMAZING for us. My daughter is absolutely gorgeous and we have a great time with her. It hasn’t been too easy, but so far I managed to run my home based business and also be there for her. One of the advantages of freelancing is that I can be at home and see my daughter grow up. I don’t want a stranger or anyone else to enjoy her first smiles, her first ‘words’ and seeing her make progress each and every day. It’s very challenging, but so far the entire experience was worth it.
Is anyone else in the same situation? Running a small home based business and also having a child? How do you manage it? What did this experience teach you?