For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. Next week I’ll cover working around toddlers, week after will be school-aged kids, and today I’ll be talking about running a business with a baby.
2 weeks before Christmas 2014, I was told that the sonographer might have miscalculated my due date, and I might in fact be having the baby on Christmas Day. She didn’t end up arriving until the 2nd week of January (my originally calculated due date), but the lesson is clear: Make sure you’re ready, well before the baby actually arrives.
It’s human nature… there’s 9 months to prep for a baby’s arrival, but rarely do we feel prepared when it’s go-time. So if you’ve got a sweet bundle on the way, try to be as ready as possible before their arrival.
Every baby responds differently, so your mileage with each of these may vary.
1. Baby swing
Just like any tech, these have come a long way over the years. When I was a baby, the swings were a bit noisy, and they’d run through batteries pretty quickly. I remember younger siblings being manually pushed periodically as the battery’s drain caused the swing to go slower, and slower.
Now they last longer than ever, some of them can be plugged into the wall with an AC adaptor, and my very favorites swing 2 ways. They can sing forward/backward like traditional baby swings, but also side-to-side.
Of course, the cooler the swing, the more spendy it is, but you can get one with all of the above features for just under $150.*
Cradles are super portable, and this allows you to work but still have the baby near you. Sometimes all they want is to be able to see Mama, and hear her voice.
These have a very limited time that they can be used, because as they get bigger and begin rolling over, the cradle is no longer a safe option. So if you can get one on sale, or just pass it on when you’re done so it continues to be useful, that would be a great way to go.
3. Baby wrap
I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, so I’ll link you to some resources for this.
What I can tell you is that there are tons of options for baby-wearing. You can use sling wraps, stretch wraps, woven wraps… you’re sure to find one that will work for you and your baby.
Also, you can often find local babywearing groups, many of which have a “lending library” so you can test out different baby wraps/carriers.
4. Flexible (but set) hours
Okay so now you’re probably wondering… how can you have set hours, but still be flexible? Okay… what I mean by this is, be prepared to work around your baby (and if you have other kids, then be prepared to work around all of their individual needs).
But while you’re working around your baby’s feeding/sleeping/clingy schedule, make sure that you’re not working 24/7. Set parameters to work within. Hours that you will not be working.
If you wake up at 3am to feed the baby, don’t try to check your email. You might be awake enough to read it, but you run the risk of not being awake enough to answer it clearly. Make your off-work hours sacred for baby snuggles, kid cuddles, husband-time, Netflix binging, and (hopefully) sleep.
One simple way to be super productive, is to batch your tasks. For example, if you get ready to schedule your social media posts for the day, go ahead and schedule your posts for the week (or the next 2 days, or however much you have time for).
6. Work in Cycles
If you (like a lot of creatives) like to bounce around from project to project, a good way to make sure you stay focused is to use an app like 30/30.
Based on the Pomodoro technique, this app lets you create a set of tasks (and allot an amount of time that you want to spend). I also schedule in fun things like dance breaks, or a coloring break, and I schedule in Facebook time.
If I schedule in fun time, and social media breaks, I’m more like to stay on focus for the rest of my tasks.
7. Maximum Impact/Minimum Time
If you’ve only got a short time amount of time (which isn’t unusual for moms) figure out what will give you the biggest result for the least amount of time.
Here’s a hint for figuring out your most likely focus: what are your money makers? Answering emails is quick, but probably not your biggest bang for your buck.
If you’re an author, then put that small spot of time into writing. You may not be able to write a whole chapter, but if you get a page or two done, that’s one step closer than you were. If you’re a photographer, work on editing a session, or create an ad for your next season.
This works really well in coordination with batching. Write a bunch of blog posts over a weekend, and schedule them out for the rest of the month. Write up your social media posts over an hour, and schedule them out for the next week.
The more you can batch/automate, the more time you’ll have for focusing on your maximum impact activities… painting, editing, writing, etc.
9. Discuss Family Roles
Having a family meeting before the baby arrives can help answer questions, and set minds at ease. This gives you the opportunity to reassure your older children that they’re still important, and discuss with your husband what a good schedule will be.
You can use family meetings to plan out set days off, or make everyone aware of upcoming calls/appointments/creative sessions. These are also a great time to discuss plans for your next family day… will it be a game night? Movie night? Are you ordering pizza?
10. Plenty of Sleep
It should go without saying, but we’re Moms. So it bears repeating. Less sleep doesn’t just mean less energy. It means slower reflexes, reduced logical thinking, and less patience. All of these are vital for a business owner, but they’re extremely important for a mom.
I tell my kids… “Mommy needs a nap so she won’t be cranky later”. Simple, but true.
11. Accept Help
Some people accept help readily.
I am NOT one of those people. I’m stubborn, and fiercely independent to my own detriment at times.
But especially when the baby arrives, you need all the help you can get. So if someone offers to bring food, LET THEM. Soon enough everyone will go their own way and you’ll find yourself staring at the clock, wishing the pizza fairy would stop by your house.
And if your husband or older kids want to help around the house, LET THEM.
I have a bad habit of wanting to go back behind my kids and re-do what they’ve done. I used to do this to my husband too… he has his own style when it comes to folding the laundry.
But when I redo what they’ve done, they notice. And they think they shouldn’t even try… why bother, Mom’s just going to redo it anyway. I don’t want to foster an atmosphere where my children (or husband) no longer feel like their efforts are appreciated.
I also don’t want my children to be come extreme perfectionists either.
12. Don’t Start Back TOO Soon
If this is your first baby, this advice goes triple for you. Babies take more time than you’ve probably even considered. And this isn’t bad at all… these are precious times, and if you dive fullbore into your business, you can miss some amazing times with your little snugglebug.
Feel free to ease yourself back into work. This isn’t a 12-week maternity leave job. And your business doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
13. Time For You
Sometimes we over complicate this one… “Oh I’ve got a full day, there’s just no time for me.”
Alexandra Stoddard* talks a lot about creating little moments throughout your day… making things (even mundane things) as pleasant as they can possibly be.
So maybe you don’t have time to go get your hair done, or have coffee with a friend, but you can create moments…
- Get handcrafted soap and turn your showers into an experience
- Turn email into an experience by having your favorite tea while you go through it
- Buy a wonderful coloring book, and some nice pencils, and pause periodically for a coloring break (you don’t have to color an entire page… you can do pieces at a time)
- Pause for a dance break!
14. Support Network
I can’t underline this one enough. Having a support network can be a serious lifeline.
Some people don’t have supportive husbands, and I hate that, because mine is wonderfully supportive. He’s more supportive of me, than I am. Ha! Seriously though…
But even if your husband is awesome, one person doesn’t create a network. So you need to have several peeps that you can go to. Try having one or two people for different areas of your life… a family member that you can vent to, a business associate who can give you perspective (or feedback on a new project), a friend you can go on coffee dates with…. your network can be as big as you need it to be.
I’d love to hear you from YOU now. What are your go-to tips for running a biz with a wee one around?
*anything with an asterisk indicates an affiliate link. Money received from affiliate purchases goes towards coffee, books, and world domination.