Shortly after leaving my 9 to 5 job for full-time self-employment, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby!
I was really excited for all of these big changes in my life, but simultaneously terrified at the idea of balancing a business and a baby.
I worried about things like time management & childcare. And I was really nervous about those unknown outliers, like: What do you when the baby gets sick?, or How do you schedule client calls?
It’s true, having kids in the mix can make full-time freelancing even more chaotic. But you can definitely do it, it just takes a little bit of fine-tuning.
In my first month back after my maternity leave, I earned 25% more money than I ever had in my business.
I made more, even though I had more distractions at home. Why? Because I was forced to work smarter during the time I had.
So here are 3 sure-fire things that are working for me, my family and my business:
1. Get clear on your capacity & preferences
In order to be successful, you’ll need to be honest with yourself about how much you think you can get done each week. Don’t take on too many clients. Starting projects you can’t wrap up on time will only hurt your business.
When I got back to work after maternity leave, I started slow. I took on less work than I suspected I could handle. This gave me enough time to get used to my new schedule. And in just a few weeks, I was able to open up a few more retainer slots to some new, awesome folks.
The other thing that’s crucial to your success is allowing yourself to stick to work you love. I love spending my days with my son, but I’m also excited when it’s time to work. By focusing on offering services that energize me, I look forward to my work! So do it because you love it, not because you have to. Passion will help you power through exhaustion.
2. Get systems in place
I have a few apps that I love for this kind of thing. 30/30 is based on the Pomodoro Technique. (The basic idea is to work on one task for 25 minutes, then break for 5.) You may also like Commit to 3, which has you set 3 Most Important Tasks for the day. The goal is to complete those before you move on to anything else.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins says that you should be “rigorous, not ruthless.” This resonates with me a lot. These days, I’m rigorous about my systems and organizational techniques. But I’m not so fiercely committed to them that it prevents me from enjoying my time with my son during the day.
3. You need to “rope up”
I love this analogy. In 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey talks about this. It’s the notion that, when mountain climbing, you tie yourself to the other climbers to keep from falling. He says we need to “borrow strength from others.”
In other words, call your village. Get on the same page with your partner. Call Grandma. Hire a house cleaner. Do what you need to do to automate what you can, and outsource what you can’t.
We definitely took to automating when we were prepping for baby. We put a lot of household items on Amazon subscriptions. And we broke out the slow cooker and got a Roomba. It’s amazing to have a lot of those little things off my plate now.
But the real turning point was getting help from my people. I wouldn’t be able to balance my son and my business without my husband and my parents. My husband is a 50-50 partner. We split chores and childcare, so I’m able to get a lot accomplished when he comes home from work. My parents are a huge help, too. I work from their house 2 days a week, while they spend time with the baby. It’s a huge gift.
A few weeks ago, my son laughed for the first time. And I was there. I wasn’t in some cubicle somewhere. Or in an airport terminal. Or sitting in the car on a long commute. I was home with him. Building a business from home while raising kids is difficult. It’s an intricate balance. But you won’t regret, I promise you.