by Meghan Bliss | Featured Contributor
Before I had my baby, I thought being a work-at-home mom would be easy.
Then I had my baby.
It didn’t take me more than a day to realize my expectations for running a business and raising a child were unreasonably high. That’s certainly not to say that both can’t be done well. In fact, countless women all over the world manage homes, run businesses, and raise children successfully. But sometimes it takes a reality check.
Here are five ways I’ve learned to balance new motherhood with working at home:
First Things First
I gave myself a pep talk when I realized balancing everything wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. I had to prioritize by deciding which aspects of my day would get most of my attention. There was no question that caring for my baby would come first, so all of my other daily tasks had to fit around that.
Ask for Help
Honestly? I’m not great at asking for help. In fact, I’m terrible at it. But whether you work from home or not, when a baby arrives, you need help. Work aside, even the most basic tasks (like washing dishes, folding laundry, cooking dinner, and even showering) fall by the wayside during the first couple of weeks. Knowing I didn’t have to worry about cooking dinner freed up an extra few minutes for me to catch up on emails and write more. (I even had time to publish my book!)
This falls right into the same category of asking for help. When your “free” time is sliced in half (at least!), it’s essential to find ways to streamline and automate your work. Focus on your most important tasks and delegate everything else. That might mean automating your emails, scheduling your social media posts, or hiring a virtual assistant to take the reins for you. Either way, pass off everything you can to someone (or something) else so you can focus on what’s most essential.
One of my favorite things to do during our marathon breastfeeding sessions was read about other women who were doing what I was trying to do. It was heartening to see other women put their families first while still pursuing their goals and succeeding. Forums and Facebook groups are great places to find other work-at-home moms to connect with.
Take Care of Yourself
When you have a newborn, self-care almost becomes like a foreign but familiar language that you have to learn to speak again. You may have to rely on dry shampoo and granola bars for a season. But taking time for yourself is essential to recharging. You’ve heard it all before: Drink water. Eat well. Take naps without feeling guilty. It’s all true. Those things will help, especially if you’re balancing as much as most women do these days. My respite was a daily shower that made me feel less like a milk-making screen zombie and more like a real person. Do what you have to do to feel more like a real person.
Being a work-at-home mom is not only a great responsibility but an incredible privilege. And it’s anything but easy. But easy is overrated, especially when it comes to something so rewarding. Luckily there are ways to balance motherhood and professional goals so you can experience the beauty of both.