A realistic guide to starting a business with a baby (Part 2)
Hi there! Chances are, if you've found yourself on this page then you've started a business (or want to) and you're a new mom (or are about to be).
Congratulations! Mamahood is a whole thing and 'hot mess' is an acceptable state of being in this neck of the web. You're welcome to let out a deep breath and just be yourself here.
In my last post, A realistic guide to starting a business with a baby (part 1), I answered these three questions…
"Is it possible to start (or run) a business with a newborn baby?"
"Won’t I have to choose to be more ‘successful’ at one or the other?"
"Doesn’t building a business mean sacrificing all my time with my family?"
And today I'm here to give you practical tips on HOW to build a business with a baby. Some of these may seem simple, stupid, or maybe even a bit crazy… but they are literally how I’ve survived and built a business with two newborns over the past 3 years…
Here are my top tips to getting work done while also living with a newborn
(and my newborn wouldn’t nap without me holding him… so you won’t find “just work while he naps!” anywhere in this post!)
I strapped a baby into a carrier and bounced them while standing at the kitchen counter with my laptop. I’ve spent HOURS of time this way while my baby napped.
I put the fussy baby in the car and went for a drive. You see, my first baby wouldn't nap. It was a bit crazy... so, I finally started going out for a drive to taco bell (yes, I was trying to lose the belly flab but I just was so tired I didn't even care. Give me all the tacos.) and I would order through the drive through and sit in the car right next to the building and get on the wifi on my laptop. This was by far one of my favorite ways to work with my first. But the downside is that each baby is different. My second wont sleep in the car for a hot minute unless the car is moving. So, with my second I will listen to podcasts or trainings/course videos in the car while I drive around aimlessly and he sleeps.
For the first 3+ months of their life, I worked one handed while they slept on me. By now you can probably tell that I have gotten quite skilled in one handed typing. So here's how I work this thing (and yes there is an art to this as well)... first, I get my water and set it next to my big chair. Then I get my computer plugged in and ready to go all propped up so I can reach it from the chair. Then I grab a huge fluffy blanket and cover up. Then I start nursing baby and as soon as he falls asleep I wad the blanket up so he's all supported and propped up well... then I just slide my arm out from under him and leave him on my lap while I work on my computer. This was how I worked during their first 3 months of life!
I laid down and nursed him while working from bed. Yep. It's not glamorous but I've spent countless hours laying on my side with a baby attached while working one handed on my computer. I warned you that some of these tips were silly… but they worked for me!
I put on a movie for the toddler. Ok, you may be wondering what I do to work with two under 3... all the things I've mentioned so far are for a newborn because, honestly, once they reach about 2 or 2.5 things get a bit easier. They can somewhat entertain themselves while you take some time to work. But guys... I put on a movie. I know, I know, insert all the mom-shame. But don’t beat yourself up over your kid watching TV if it allows you to get a little work done.
My hubby watches the kids when he gets off work. This is the good old switcheroo. There were certain nights of the week where Steven will take the baby/kids when he was off work and I have my dedicated work time each week. If you don't have a hubby, then try a relative or friend. I've found that there are people in my life who are willing to help if only I ask (which is easier said than done).
We put our toddler into daycare. This one will be different for everyone and only you can determine what is best for your family. But for so long I felt guilty for secretly wanting to put my toddler in daycare, yet I was feeling a bit (ok a LOT) run ragged from always trying to work and pay attention to him at the same time. I felt like he wasn’t getting the best of me because I was always trying to squeeze work into every ‘free’ second. I wanted undivided focus for my biz and I was tired of feeling like my time with my him was being pulled into my biz. So, we decided to put my oldest in daycare only 3 days a week when he turned 18 months old. That decision was amazing for my sanity and my business. And now, we’re looking at finding someone to watch our 7 month old a few hours a week because I want them to see the non-frazzled me… not the ‘will you JUST let me work one more minute’, crazy mom.
When I'm not working... I'm NOT WORKING. This one is the most difficult of all and it'll always be a work in progress... but my goal is to be with my family when I'm not working and be focused on my business when I’m working. Right now that's a bit difficult since I've got an infant on my hip 24/7, but this is a short season where I'm soaking up the baby snuggles and looking ahead to more undivided work time. Make sure to carve out family time that is 100% uninterrupted.
Other time saving tips to get you through the overwhelm:
Order groceries online and go pick them up or have them delivered. Even Walmart does this now and it’s a lifesaver!
Buy pre-prepped and pre-chopped food. For a little extra, you can buy pre-chopped veggies, squash, potatoes, fruit, etc. You can also get pre-marinated meats or pre-seasoned veggie blends. Another of my favorite quick, microwave lunches is this. This saves me so much time while cooking!
Hire a house cleaner (even once a month). For some seasons of life we have had a house cleaner come in once a month and it’s been amazing.
Hire a virtual assistant or 5 (virtual assistant... seriously, you need the help and you can start with just an hour a week! The cost will 100% be worth it!).
Hire a babysitter.
Get a meal subscription service like Hello Fresh or Plated.
And most importantly, give yourself HUGE piles of grace all the time. This is a hard thing to do and I am giving you applause right now for even stepping out and going after your dreams. But just know that the imperfect days are the best days for grace.
When the living room is a disaster... When you're running late because of spit up or poopie diapers or just trying to feed yourself... When you're on the phone with a client and the baby is crying... When you're up until 3am because the house is quiet and you know you'll be exhausted but you just don't care because QUIET + ALONE time... When you just don't understand why you're not getting more clients... or you can't figure out how to embed your email form on your website...
Grace, grace, grace.
Remember that your kids love you unconditionally and even on the days we feel like a failure as a mom they still think you're the best thing ever. Isn't it amazing how God did that? They're practically hardwired to love you through it all. They don’t see the ‘mess’ that you sometimes feel like you are.
Well, I hope this insight into how I run my business as a mom of two under 3 is helpful for you. Leave a comment below and let me know how you tackle it all! I want to know.
Cheering you on!