working with the littles11:07 AM
Recently, Pregnancy & Newborn magazine asked several working mamas and myself to share our thoughts regarding work/life balance when little ones are involved. You can check out the current issue to read what everyone had to say. There is some great advice there from some of my favorite bloggers and fellow Atlantians!
We had the pleasure of working with our favorite, Morgan Blake, on these photos to offer a little glimpse into what a typical workday looks like for us. I will be honest and say that no, normally I do not look this nice but I figured I would get a little dolled up for once ;). The kids however, are wearing what they normally wear (Birdie pretty much lived in that romper all summer long - soooo easy).
I have been working from home for over five years now and three of them I worked with a baby or babies around. I worked on a five year project for a non-profit that just wrapped this summer. It was bittersweet to see all of our hard work come to an end and say goodbye to something that was a part of my life for that many years but at the same time I looking forward to future possibilities including going back to school. It wasn't always easy trying to be a working mum but in the end I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be at home with my babies when they needed me. I am no expert on the subject by any means but I did learn some things in the process and I thought I would share them here in case they may be helpful to any fellow mamas doing the same:
- Be flexible. I am an obsessive type A and in a traditional office setting I would have periods during the day of extreme productivity where for three or four hour blocks I worked without taking a break or being distracted. Obviously, this is impossible with little ones around so I had to learn to work in more manageable segments of an hour or two when they were napping or playing. And I had to learn that being interrupted was just the nature of the beast.
- Find a schedule that works. I wish I was one of those morning people who has showered, made coffee and gone for a run all by 5:30 am. Unfortunately, I am not. Instead I've learned that I prefer to work late into the night after the kids are in bed. I would always save all the important work for nighttime when I knew I wouldn't be interrupted and could work as long as I needed to. For a long while there I was going to bed at one or two am. On those occasions if I got lucky and got both of them to take a nap at the same time I often would take a nap as well to make sure that I was functional.
- Ask for help. This is probably the most important piece of advice I could give. All the organizing and planning in the world will not prevent you from the inevitable burnout because it really is impossible to give 100% to both your work and your kids. When Teddy was around two months old I realized that I wasn't going to be able to keep going the way I was. We hired a nanny to come twice a week and relieve me. It did wonders for me. It made me look forward to being with the kids when I was done with work and it made me look forward to being able to work in solitude. And we were able to do it in a way that was affordable!
- When we moved into our house last year we had the luxury of dedicating one of the bedrooms to an office space. It was wonderful to have a room where I could keep all of my documents and supplies organized and to have a desk that was designated for work. However, I learned that sometimes in order to get things done I would have to answer emails from the sofa while the kids played next to me or read over paperwork while at the dinner table. It's not in my type A nature to work this way but as I say, flexibility is extremely important.
- Lastly and most importantly - give yourself a lot of grace. You are doing something that is practically impossible so as long as the work gets done and the kids are loved you are doing great! Don't worry so much about doing things the "right" way. My mum would always say to me when I was getting down on myself "you just need to survive right now, do the best you can and move on, this stage will be over before you know it." And honestly, as time went on and the kids grew and matured things would get infinitely easier. You will eventually find a groove and lifestyle that works for everyone.
I hope you will find some of this helpful. I don't have the answers and being a parent and trying to fulfill your own career needs and obligations is one of the toughest things any of us will navigate. I truly believe that we are all just doing our best and all we want is to provide for our family and love our family. In the end that's all that it comes down to so no matter how somebody goes about doing that they are a hero because each situation is unique, full of complications and hard decisions and I so much respect everyone's journey. Sending you all my love and as one of my favorite mamas, Glennon Doyle Melton, always says: "I love you. 10 hours till bedtime. Godspeed."