Updated: Oct 10
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Balancing motherhood while running a business can be challenging, but can definitely be done. All you need is careful planning, organization, and support.
Before I was a mother there was already never enough time in the day and I'm sure you can relate too whether you're a mother or not.
It took me about 2 years postpartum to get to the point where I felt like I was starting to get a handle on balancing motherly tasks and being a business owner.
Before I figured out what worked for me I was always stressed (okay im still stressed but its a managable stress instead of chaotic stress). During my sons first 2 years of life I thought there was no way I could stay home with my son, play with him, make his food, tend to every need AND run my brand and web design business.
I definitely think the transition into first time motherhood was a big factor in me feeling like a chicken with its head cut off. We go from taking care of ourselves to all of sudden, ready or not, taking care of ourselves and a baby.
It was hard but I did eventually find balance through trying different strategies and cutting out things that don't bring me joy anymore like scrolling endlessly on social media (that extra hour here and there put towards my business instead really helped me reach my goals) and learning to put the blinders on and actually focusing.
Here are some strategies that I want to share with you that helped me achieve balance and feel like I finally have control (most of the time). Hope it helps! Let's dive in.
1. Define Your Personal and Business Priorities
Some of my personal priorities are keeping my mornings open to spend time with my son. Working out at least 3 days a week and making time to hang out with friends instead of feeling like I needed to work 24/7.
Some of my business priorities are keeping my weekends work free. Enjoying an actual lunch break and keeping my Fridays meeting free and dedicated to tasks that I need to do for my business instead of client work.
Clarifying your personal and professional priorities will help you understand what matters most to you as a mother and as a business owner. This clarity will help you manage your time and energy more effectively.
Some personal priorities can be:
Making time for a daily workout
Starting your day with a morning walk
Getting a pedicure once a month
Some business priorities can be:
Working between a certain time frame, something like 9am-1pm
Accepting jobs that light you up and learning to say no
No checking emails after 5pm
2. Start Every Day By Creating a Flexible Schedule
After figuring out your priorities now you can create your schedule. Creating a schedule was an absolute game changer for me. It let me set up my weekly projects so that I knew what work needed to get done and how much time I had to do it.
I have a Google Docs sheets with time on the vertical axis and days of the week horizontally across the top. For time I start at 9am and go in 30 min increments until 6pm. Red cells are used to block out time that is unavailable. Remember how one of my priorities was to keep my mornings clear for my son? That special time is blocked off in my schedule. Lunch time and other important commitments are blocked off too. Spots that aren't marked red is available work time.
Sitting down for about 15 mins to map out my daily schedule has really helped me feel more accomplished and fulfilled. Since I'm making time in my schedule to get things done the chaotic feeling of having a long to do list has dissipated a lot. Being able to make time in my day for my personal priorities has made being a business owner that much more enjoyable and worth it.
Making a schedule lets you have dedicated uninterrupted time to focus on important tasks for both your personal and business life. Feel free to also create a weekly schedule instead if that works better for you.
3. Actually Finish Your Tasks and Batch your Work Mastering the art of batch working is your secret weapon for reclaiming time and maximizing productivity. What I love about batch working is that I can do a task from start to finish in one or two days. If you're like me its easy to start a project but very hard to finish a project. If I'm able to concentrate on the task at hand in a focused amount of time then I have a better chance of actually completing the project rather than spreading it out to 20 mins here, 30 mins there.
What you're going to do is group similar activities together, whether it's content creation, client communication, or financial management. This allows you to streamline your thought process and dive deep into each task, eliminating the constant mental switching that comes with scattered work and enables you to unleash your full potential in a state of focused flow.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Outsource
This is took me a while to feel comfortable with outsourcing but it just makes sense. Whether it's hiring a baby sitter for a couple days a week so you can have focus time or delegating repetitive or draining tasks to a virtual assistant anything helps. The more someone else helps you with your work load the more time you clear up in your schedule for the things you enjoy doing.
Handing tasks off to a virtual assistant will be tedious at first. You need to make sure you're clear on what you want and have a clear process. Something that helped me is to create standard operating procedures or SOPs in a Google Doc that I can hand off to a virtual assistant. Next time you do a task that you want to delegate record yourself on Loom or Zoom so there's a step by step guide for someone to follow. You might go through 3 or 4 different VAs before finding the one that works for you but once you find the one it's all uphill from there!
Tasks you can delegate can be:
Childcare, even if it's only 2 or 3 hours a day it's worth it
Cleaning your house
Taking discovery calls
Social media marketing
5. Don't Feel the Need to Finish Your To Do List in One Day - Set Realistic Goals
I have always been too much of an optimist for what I think I can get done in a day. But creating a daily schedule has reaaally helped. When I add a new task to my to do list I'll also write the estimated time I think it needs to be completed next to it and that has really opened my eyes for how much I can get done in a day. If I don't have enough time in the present day I'll move it to another day of the week. This is also a great opportunity to do a time audit of your common tasks. All you have to do is take note of the time you started and the time you ended. This way when you go to fill out your schedule you can be sure to fit it into a spot that gives you enough time.
If you're able to break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps that will help you accomplish the task without overwhelm. If you want to start a podcast for example your first task would be something like, figuring out the name and what your podcast will be about. The next step might be figuring out how often you want to post and creating a list of the first 10 podcast episodes you want to create.
Especially now a days we want everything quickly with a minimal amount of work but that's just not how it works. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, don't rush, take the time to break down your tasks and create realistic goals for yourself.
6. Establish Your Boundaries
Clearly communicate your boundaries to both your business associates and family members. Let them know your working hours and when you need uninterrupted time for your family.
When prospective clients fill out the contact form on my website I have an automatic email saying thank you and that I am a business/stay and home mom so you can expect a reply within 2-3 business days. Setting those boundaries from the beginning helps with expectations and let's my clients know that I see them.
7. Take a Break and Practice Self-Care
I know you've heard this a lot and you might glaze over this tip but it really is important to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Make sure you get exercise, proper nutrition, quality sleep, and learn relaxation techniques when you're overwhelmed.
When it comes to self care you might have mom guilt about putting yourself first but its true what they say. You can't pour from an empty cup. If you're not feeling good mentally and physically there's no way you can show up as your best self for both your business and your family.
A little self care goes a long way. We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of our lives so don't feel bad, block out 1 or 2 hours of you time in your schedule and let yourself unwind. When you go back to reality your fresh eyes and refreshed mind will be even more ready to work. Some self care things that I do for myself are:
Getting a juice from my favorite juice spot
Going out for breakfast
Setting aside 30 mins a day to read a book
Get a 30 min work out in at least 3 days a week
Letting my husband watch our child while I grab drinks with my friends once every couple months
8. Work Smarter Not Harder: Use Technology to Your Advantage
There is so much cool tech out there use it to your advantage. I love to use automations in my business. I mentioned this earlier in the episode but a technique that I added to my onboarding process is to send out an automatic email when someone fills in my contact form. It's a super easy way to set the right expectation for my clients and it cuts out the need for me to reply right away. Pre-written canned email templates are also a great timesaver. I use GMail and they have a place where you can save canned emails and use them at the click of a button. For my business I have a canned email for welcoming new clients, sending a contract and retainer, first proofs, and many more. No need to sit down and write all your emails right this second. Just save them one by one as you write them and before you know it everything you need is saved and ready to go without even needing to find extra time in your schedule.
If you want to be consistent with content creation take advantage of auto publish features. It's impossible to be consistent if you are trying to create, edit and finalize content the day you want to post it. The best way to be consistent is batching your work and using auto publish. This way you can use your designated focus time to create all your content in one or two sittings then have auto publish do all the hard work for you.
9. Focus and Eliminate All Distractions Once you're schedule is all set use your designated work time to actually work. Your time is precious and if you want to have the best of both worlds of being a stay and home mom and running a business you need to focus. If you find yourself getting distracted by your phone put it in another room. If getting up for a drink or a snack ruins your focus then gather your drinks and food before you sit down to work. Feel free to try techniques like the Pomodoro technique to boost productivity and maintain focus. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves breaking work into intervals, typically 25 minutes long, separated by short breaks, to enhance productivity and focus. Everyone is different so do what's best for you. It will take time to find something that works so don't get upset with yourself if you can't seem to find the focus you need right away.
10. There Will Never Be a Perfect Work-Life Balance Be Kind to Yourself There is no, and will never be a perfect balance of being a mother and being a business owner. Accept that there will be moments when you may feel overwhelmed and moments where everything feels managable. Be kind to yourself, practice self-compassion, and celebrate your achievements, both big and small. Learning to be flexible is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.
Conclusion Finding a balance between motherhood and running a business requires flexibility, patience, and adaptability. By incorporating these strategies and adjusting them to fit your unique circumstances, you can navigate the challenges and enjoy the fulfillment of both being a successful entrepreneur and a loving mother.
I think a lot of people feel like there is this magical time in their life when everything will be perfect and they will be able to gain time back. Beliefs like, "once my children are older and more independent, I'll finally have time for myself". I can't speak from experience and I'm sure there is some truth to that statement but are you going to wait years for your children to grow up so you can finally have time to work on your business? No. So use these techniques to embrace the present and make the most of your time right now. Just like in every episode heres all the tips:
Define Your Personal and Business Priorities: Clarifying your personal and professional priorities will help you manage your time and energy more effectively.
Start Every Day By Creating a Flexible Schedule: Making a schedule lets you have dedicated uninterrupted time to focus on important tasks for both your personal and business life.
Actually Finish Your Tasks and Batch your Work: Group similar activities together to streamline your thought process and unleash your full potential in a state of focused flow.
Don't Be Afraid to Outsource: Delegate tasks to lighten your workload and free up more time for the things you enjoy.
Don't Feel the Need to Finish Your To-Do List in One Day - Set Realistic Goals: Break down tasks, create a daily schedule, and set realistic goals to avoid overwhelm and increase productivity.
Establish Your Boundaries: Clearly communicate your working hours and uninterrupted time to both your business associates and family members.
Take a Break and Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care physically, mentally, and emotionally to show up as your best self for both your business and family.
Work Smarter, Not Harder: Use Technology to Your Advantage: Embrace automation, pre-written templates, and auto-publish features to save time and increase efficiency.
Focus and Eliminate All Distractions: Designate focused work time, eliminate distractions, and experiment with productivity techniques like the Pomodoro Technique.
There Will Never Be a Perfect Work-Life Balance, Be Kind to Yourself: Embrace flexibility, practice self-compassion, and celebrate achievements along the way. That's all I have for you today, have a great day and happy designing!