As a new mom, I’ve received a lot of questions about how I plan to run Elle & Company while staying home with my little one.
How has this transition been? What does my schedule look like? What am I doing for childcare?
So in today’s episode, I’m diving into the five key things I’ve learned about balancing motherhood and business since coming back from maternity leave last month.
I still have a lot to learn, but I hope this episode will resonate with those of you who are in the same boat (and those who are planning to be a stay-at-home mompreneur in the near future)!
Episode 14 Podcast
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As a new mom, I've received a lot of questions about how I plan to run Elle & Company while staying home with my little one. I've received questions like how has this transition's been, what does my schedule look like now and what am I doing for child care. So, in today's episode I'm diving into the five key things that I've already learned about balancing motherhood and business since I came back from maternity leave last month. I still have a lot to learn on this topic but I hope that this episode will resonate with those of you who are in the same boat and those of you who are planning to be a stay at home mompreneur in the near future. Let's dive in.
Changes to the Ellechat format
Hey there and welcome to Ellechat, a weekly dose of practical tips and strategies to help you create a stunning first impression online. I'm your host Lauren Hooker and it really great to be back for the first official season of the Ellechat podcast. Ellechat actually started as a Twitter chat over three years ago hence the name Ellechat and people would hop on Twitter for an hour as I posted questions. I would retweet their answers. It was a lot of fun and that lasted for about a year until about two years ago when I switched it over into a webinar format. I've been hosting these weekly webinars up until a few months ago when I went on maternity leave.
At that time when I started doing the weekly webinars, Twitter was becoming a lot less popular and I found that I could cover topics in a lot more detail while still interacting with people for an hour through the comment section and questions. I love doing those webinars and I will continue to do these webinars. They're a lot of fun.
About a year ago, I started to take the audio from those webinars and create it into a podcast and that has been what the Ellechat podcast has been up until this point. I have some new changes that I'm making to the Ellechat now that I have a little one that I'm staying home with and over maternity leave, I asked you all in the Elle & Company Facebook community what you wanted to see from Ellechat, how long do you want the episodes and that sort of thing, what type of content do you want to hear through the Ellechat podcast. So, I have a few new changes that I'm really excited about implementing from here on out.
The first is that I'm doing seasons. So, this is the first podcast episode of the fall 2018 season. I'm going to take a couple of months off in the winter to regroup and create some new content for you guys and then I'll come back in the spring of 2019 for that season. So, just like your favorite television shows, you can look forward to seasons from the Ellechat podcast.
20-30 minute solo episodes
I'm also going to be doing shorter solo episodes like this one. I'm still going to do the webinars for guest episodes so that I can spend a little bit longer and so that you all can interact with them too. Those will still be about 45 minutes to an hour. For these solo episodes just going to be in podcast format and they're going to last around 20 to 30 minutes. I know that you only have so many hours in your day to listen to podcast and this amount of time is also perfect for a workout or a commute but long enough to dive into a topic. So, I'm excited to switch things up a little bit with these solo podcast episodes and then the longer webinar format for the 45 to 60 minute guest episodes. I'll also take the audio from those for the Ellechat podcast as well. So, those are the updates. I hope that you all are excited about them too.
Like I said, I am back from maternity leave. I took three months off after the birth of my son Eli back in April and I soaked up that time. It went by so fast just like everybody said it would and he is so sweet. I'm eating up motherhood. I'm enjoying it so much more than I ever imagined that I would. Since I have come back from maternity leave, I've received a lot of questions from you guys about what work looks like for me now that I'm staying at home with Eli and continuing to run Elle & Company. I planned to talk about this more in a later episode, later in this podcast season but I received so many questions that I decided to jump in and share my plans in this episode with you all and I might follow up later.
I definitely do not have it all figured out, but I'm excited to share with you what I've learned from just these last four weeks even of trying to figure out what my work schedule looks like now that I am staying at home with the little one and pursuing my business part-time. I'm super grateful to be able to do this. I think that's one of the great things about running an online business is that it gives me the flexibility to be able to stay home with him and continue to run my business, but I'm learning that it is not easy and it's pretty difficult. So, I'm excited to share five things that I've learned with you all. I hope that if you are in a similar season or even if you are pursuing your business part time at the moment, I hope that you're able to relate to this and I hope you're encouraged by this episode and maybe you're able to glean a few things from what I have learned as well. So, I'm going to jump right in.
1 | Create a flexible schedule
The first thing I've learned is to create a flexible schedule. I thrive on a schedule. I think most people thrive on a schedule. I really could not function without one. So, I created an ideal work schedule knowing that things are subject to change. I don't think I've reached this ideal work schedule once in the last four weeks since having Eli and anyone with a newborn can tell you that schedules aren't necessarily followed. Your little one doesn’t necessarily follow your schedule, but that's why I said creating a flexible schedule.
With this ideal work schedule that I created, I just mapped out every single day and I took into account Eli's eating schedule and his nap schedule, my husband's schedule and just try to figure out where I did have pockets of time that I could get work done. I planned for uninterrupted time with him while he's awake because he is my first priority. He isn’t an interruption in my day because he is my first priority, but mama still has to get work done. So, I try to discover where I can fit in extra time to get that work done. Nap time isn’t guaranteed and often when I try to pack too much in the nap time, I get irritated when he wakes up. Again, he isn’t an interruption. He is my first priority.
So, I am most productive in the mornings, but they were feeling a little full. We also try to work out in the morning. We have quiet time in the morning and do our Bible study in the morning. So, it was feeling really full, but I realized that if I woke up just a little bit earlier, I would have more time in the morning, more quiet time where Eli is still sleeping and I can get stuff done. Recording podcast episodes in the morning, writing content even just responding to emails so by creating that ideal schedule even if I don't follow it to a T, I was able to see where I could create extra time. I'm also realizing that I need to work some in the evenings and that's just a part of it in the season right now.
Having this flexible schedule to allow me to set realistic expectations and to also plan for downtime which I'm realizing is really important, because now my day seems taken over with caring for the little one, laundry, meal times, and I've learned that I need to plan for down time as well, but a highlight in all of this with a crazier schedule now is that I've discovered that I am much more productive during the time that I do sit down to work because I know just how valuable that time is. I'm not as likely to pick up my phone or check email when I'm trying to write a blog post because I just don’t have the time for distractions. Its amazing how much you can get done when you are in a time crunch.
It's also forced me and my perfectionist nature to get stuff done when I'm down to the wire and not worry about the teeny little details that I can obsess over. So, in a way, it's been good and pushed me to be more productive in the time that I actually have. So, if you are struggling with when you can fit in time to work, I would highly suggest mapping out your week and figuring out where you can fit in that work time, and as I'm going to get to in a second, it might require some sacrifice on your part. It might require less downtime in the evenings so that you can get work done. That might require you waking up early to get worked done but it might just be for a season. That's what I have to keep reminding myself.
2 | Ask others for help
The second thing I've learned is to seek help, to ask others for help. My husband also works from home which is a blessing but it also makes it hard when we both have weird schedules. He's in ministry too so we also have a lot going on at night. Weekends aren’t free for us. They're actually our busiest times and so it looks a little different for us, but it does mean that he can help me out a little bit during the day when he's home. Do a diaper change or something like that if I'm knee-deep in work. One thing that we've been planning to do is for him to stay at home while Eli is asleep even so that I can leave and go to a coffee shop and get some interrupted work done, because even when Eli's at sleep at night, the monitor is right there in front of me. It doesn't feel like I'm completely removed and able to think straight. So, asking him just to stay home so that I can go out and get work done has been huge.
I've also learned to invite people into my routine. So, in the morning, I love to go on runs or to get my exercise in on the green way. Eli comes with me in the stroller. I invite a friend to come running with me or come walking with me. Inviting friends out to meal times and things like that, just inviting people into my routine as we're doing ministry and I'm running a business at the same time.
I listen to the Risen Motherhood podcast and there was one really good episode with Ruth Chou Simons. I think I'm saying her name right, but one thing that really stood out to me … she was talking about I think she has six boys or seven boys and she also runs a business from home and her husband is in ministry. She talked about inviting her children into her work. Now, right now Eli is very small so that's not really an option, but when he gets older, inviting him to come sit and color with me as I work on design stuff or just explaining to him what I'm doing and the importance of my work. That just stood out to me. So, if you have older children, that might be an option for you. It might be a little more distracting to have them nearby but just inviting people into your schedule and figuring out how you might be able to be creative in that.
I'm planning on asking for help and having a sitter come and stay with him for a couple hours a few times a week. Right now we are in a small apartment as we renovate a home. This home actually has a detached office so that will be ideal when we have a sitter, but at the moment, it's just an awkward situation arrangement. So, I'm playing that by ear. I'm trying to make it work at the moment but maybe in the next few months I'll have someone come and keep Eli for me.
I also have an assistant Marisa who is so incredibly helpful. I could not make it in this season without having Marisa's help. She kept things running while I was on maternity leave. Answering emails, helping me create new content, mapping out new content. For the Squarespace series that I just launched on the blog, she created the whole quiz for it. She's amazing. So, she's the one behind the scenes that you all don’t normally get to see, but she's taken on even more since I had Eli and I'm so incredibly grateful for her help. So, if you can bring someone on to help you in your business, I highly recommend it. If you're at a point in your business where you can delegate tasks and you have a little one that you're staying home with, delegate as much as you possibly can.
The last area where I tried to make things easier on myself and ask for help Walmart pickup for groceries. It's the simple things like that. Going online and being able to purchase all my groceries and then just go and pick them up has been huge. So, something that would fall into this category would be having someone to come clean your house or utilizing a meal service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh or something like that to make your life easier. I'm trying to learn that I don't have to be superwoman. I don't have to do it all and it is okay to ask for help and try to make it work where I can and also done by other people into my routine.
3 | Cut back
The third thing that I've learned is to cut back. I have less resources now because I have less time. So, it forces me to get creative and I try instead of viewing it as a struggle, I try to view it as a challenge. So, I've reevaluated my products and my services. I'm not able to take on as much right now and that's okay. I'm trying to figure out how to make that work. I'm producing less content. I'm not blogging as much. I'm taking on less clients. I'm also recording these podcast as an example so that I can batch them and get them out to you guys instead of the weekly webinars that take up an hour. I'm not even guaranteed that hour with my own times at the moment and babysitter.
So, I'm just having to learn that even the good things in my business that were going right and helping it, I need to reevaluate because I have less time and less resources right now. I hope to share more about what that looks like for me in the coming months cutting back and figuring out how to make it work and continue to bring in an income with less. So, stay posted and stay tuned for that.
4 | Sacrifice
Number four, I've learned to sacrifice. I mentioned this a moment ago. If you're a mom, you know this better than anybody the term sacrifice. I think too that a lot of times especially before Eli came along, I thought that I could take everything on and still be able to manage life well. That there had to be some magic formula for being able to do so many things and still balance it all. I think the term balance is also really misleading and something that is never really attainable. I can't keep continuing to take things on and still do everything well. So, I don’t think that there's any such thing as perfect balance. I think that out of anything that I've learned in this season, it means that I might need to let go of good things for this season, not to write them off forever but I need to sacrifice things in this season and focus on what I'm definitely called to.
Right now I am called to be a mom. Right now, I am called to help my husband in ministry and I enjoy doing that. Right now, I want to continue to do Elle & Company and do feel called to do that, but it just looks a little different. So, right now it means that I need to sacrifice TV time in the evenings and downtime in the evenings. It might mean for me that I need to cut back on splurges so that I can hire somebody where that's an example for you. I've already done that. It might mean cutting back on things like Netflix or fun things that aren’t necessarily the best in this season for taking away time or taking away money and resources that you need. Right now, it looks like giving up my early mornings and even my evenings to get stuff done. I'm sacrificing a little bit of sleep to get up early and get things done and going to bed a little bit earlier.
So, for those of you who are trying to find that perfect balance, it might just mean that you need to give some more things up in this season and that's okay. It's just for a season and I'm preaching to myself, because I need to hear this too. It's hard. I'm not saying that it's easy. It's really hard and it's something I was struggling with even today just trying to have open hands in this season and realize that I have to give up some of the things that I love in order to make it work right now with a little one and a business. The last four things that I've talked about I learned to create a flexible schedule, learned to seek help, learned to cut back, learn to sacrifice and lastly learned to continue to adapt more than anything.
5 | Be open to reevaluate
Well, I just said that a second ago, but another big thing I've learned is that just when I think I have something figured out, when I think I have Eli's schedule figured out or how to entertain him or how to get him to sleep longer, it changes and the same thing is true in business. Just when you think you have something figured out, just when you think you have an Instagram strategy figured out, just when you think you figured out how to get clients, something changes. You can either fight it or you can learn to roll with it and adapt and take it on as a fun challenge. I'm trying to make it my practice to reevaluate every quarter. I'm learning that what works right now in this season with Eli being almost four months old is going to look different four months from now, three or four months from now. So, I've learned that I just need to continue to reevaluate and figure out what is going to work in this season and give myself grace as I go.
Obviously, I still have a lot to learn on this topic. I am open to all the feedback I can get. So, if you have any feedback on what has worked for you trying to balance motherhood or even just part-time business with a full-time occupation, I would love to hear from you guys. The Elle & Company community Facebook group is a great place to share what's working for you and I'll also do a post on there and pin it to the top of the group so that you can leave your feedback there. I would love to hear from you. I think I've learned humility in a new and I sought advise more than I ever have in becoming a mom. So, I would love truly to hear from you. So, go to the Elle & Company community Facebook group. If you aren’t a part of it already, you can ask to join and we'll let you in. It's also a really great place to ask questions on things, everything from Squarespace to branding to small business questions, all of it. Go to the Elle & Company community and you can ask it there and get feedback and connect with other people who are in the very same boat as you.
Thank you all for listening. I hope you like these shorter episodes. I'm excited to get back into the swing of things with podcast and business. I'm excited to share more about what this looks like as I go along. If you would like to leave me a review on iTunes, I would greatly appreciate it. That way other people can find the Ellechat podcast too, but I'll be back with another episode soon. Thank you all for tuning in.