Business + Baby: How I Make It Work

My sweet boyo turned a year old last week. Obviously my life has changed in huge ways as a result, and so has my business. Before I was a mom, I always wondered how mamas with businesses made it work. Where did they find the time? What did they outsource? What did their days look like? Heck, I still wonder this!

I'm going to share how I'm making it work, but first, here's what I've learned about business + baby in general:

 

1 | Every kid, mama, family, and business are different.

What works for one mama won't necessarily work for another. Your business model, child's age and temperament, proximity to family and/or help, and your personality all go into the mix when you figure out how to make it work.

 

2 | Especially the first year, your kid constantly changes.

Which means that what they need and the demands on your time and energy constantly changes.

 

3 | Your time becomes limited like you can't even believe.

You can still run your biz, but it probably can't operate like it did before.

 

4 | Nothing can prepare you for the devastation of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is FOR REAL and it is NO JOKE. It's not about rising above or being tough or better self-care. Your body and mind start to SHUT DOWN without proper sleep. How long this goes on depends a lot on how your kiddo sleeps (which you only have so much influence over), if you breastfeed exclusively/pump, or share night duties with Dad or someone else.

It was 2 months and 19 days before I got 6 consecutive hours of sleep, and 6 months and 27 days before I got 8 consecutive hours of sleep. Can you tell that I was counting?! I recall starting to feel "normal" around the 6 month mark. Cue major applause for moms who go back to work after 6 weeks (which I think is a cruel and unreasonable standard).

 

What has all of that meant and looked like for me?

I started adjusting my business model about 18 months before boyo arrived. Before then I did almost exclusively one-on-one coaching. I knew that I had to make the jump to working with groups to grow my business to the next level, and hoping to have a kid gave me the kick I needed to make it happen. I also hired an assistant once the first trimester exhaustion hit because I just couldn't keep up with everything on my own anymore.

I took 4 months off when boyo was born. I really took 6 weeks totally off…wait, that's not even true. I took one week totally off, and then sent out my weekly newsletter the next week. I had guest bloggers lined up for a couple months, but I hadn't gotten newsletters prewritten, so I did those every week. After 6 weeks, and started to work on a website redesign, but that was all behind the scenes stuff I did when I could/wanted to. I went back back after 4 months. I was wonderful to have that time to enjoy boyo and be a zombie.

We've chosen to have Wyatt stay at home with me instead of going to daycare, at least for now. That's a very personal decision for every family, and I don't think there's a right or wrong answer; this is just what we wanted to do for his first year. Could I grow my business faster and make more money if he was at daycare all day? Probably. I do have a college babysitter come for a couple hours in the afternoons and my husband does a lot with our boy--don't think I'm doing this singlehandedly!

Remember how I said kids change a lot the first year? His changing sleeping, eating, and mobility habits have meant changes to how and when I'm able to work.

 

Here's what a typical day looks like now:

4:00-5:00 am: I wake up without an alarm clock. Don't feel sorry for me or be super impressed; this is just when I wake up. I love being the first one up. Being able to wake up before the baby and reclaim my early mornings was a major milestone. This is when I do my most creatively taxing work, which is usually writing and content creation. I'm at my best during this time of day, so that's when I do my most demanding work.

6:30: I get Wyatt up for the day. He often wakes on his own closer to 6, but usually plays quietly in his crib (it hasn't always been that way). We do morning milk, books, and cuddle.

6:45 or 7:00: My husband, Zach, takes over baby duty. He's a professor and this semester his schedule allows him to be at work around 9:30 am. I use this time to get ready for the day, have some breakfast, and continue working. I usually wash my hair every other day to save time. I always get dressed and put on a little makeup, even though I work at home. I like to feel ready.

9:00: I take back over baby duties. If all goes as planned, Zach has put Wyatt down for his first nap of the day. If they're behind schedule, I do it. While Wyatt naps, I work. Always.

10:00-10:30: Wyatt wakes up. He eats, and then we have a couple hours to spend together. This is when I run errands, take a walk, fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, and do any other active things that he can tag along for. I can't do any "brain work" when I'm on a Wyatt shift, but he's game for physical stuff that he can join in or play near. And of course we play and read books and chase up and down the hall.

12:30: Lunch for both of us. I usually make something simple that both of us can eat. He takes forever to eat, so I try to give him half an hour for lunch.  Some days we have lunch with friends, or just the two of us will go out together.

1:00-1:30: Wyatt's 2nd nap starts. I work. Always.

2:00-3:00: Wyatt wakes up and we hang out until...

3:00-5:00: Babysitter time! Every week day, one of our two college babysitters come. I wouldn't go so far as to call them nannies because they mostly play with him and don't do heaving lifting like meals, putting him down for naps, etc, but having them around is a tremendous help. Wyatt adores them, they're both great with him, and both my husband and I have had these particular young women as students (I used to adjunct at his university), so we know they're good eggs. Also, they do stuff around the house! I feel like I get 2 for the price of 1 because not only do they take great care of my kid, they iron! And empty the dishwasher! And Swiffer the floor! While one of them is here, I work. Usually at home, though sometimes I escape to a coffee shop or run an errand that's easier to do without a baby in tow. If I'm going to Skype with a work friend or do a podcast interview or something like that, I schedule it during this window.

5:00: I cook dinner. We still order out more than I'd like, but I'm a work at home mom with limited time and energy. When something's got to give, it's usually this. But on cooking nights, I usually put Wyatt in his high chair so he can see the action and stay out of trouble as I make one of our favorite "house recipes" (I keep a binder of our favorites so I don't have to sift through a dozen cookbooks). Zach is in charge of dinner on the weekends. When I'm on my cooking game (I'm usually not) I plan meals and do grocery shopping on the weekend.

5:30: Dada's home! We usually all sit down for dinner between 5:30 and 6:00.

6:00-6:30: Zach is back on baby duty post dinner. He does bath, evening bottle, and bedtime. Most nights I get in on the action and do some pre-bedtime cuddling. Besides dinner, this is often the only time the 3 of us have together all day.

7:00-7:30: Wyatt goes to sleep. Most nights I am done for the day, and often go to sleep before 9, and sometimes as early a 7. Some nights I'll have a client call, but most of the time, this is my time. I don't usually work (I can't, I'm beat), so I'll spend time with Zach, read, take a bath, or zone out to Hulu or Netflix. It's been a full day!

Of course, not every day goes like that. When Wyatt won't nap, I lose work time. When Zach has to work late, I do the night routine. When the babysitter has to cancel, I lose out on 2 hours of work. So it's not a perfect system, but it mostly works. And think that with business + baby, mostly working is pretty darn good.

I do group coaching calls at night or on the weekends. I usually do some work on the weekends, but I don't hustle then and spend more time with Zach and Wyatt. Unless it's launch time; then all bets are off. Then I'm working late nights, getting extra babysitters so I can work weekends, and whenever else I can fit it in.

Days with Wyatt have not always been so predictable. For about the first 6 months, it was the Wild West. I couldn't tell you what time he would nap or when I would be available to talk on the phone. I just worked when I could, scheduled clients at night, and hoped that things would settle down later. And they have. But I also know that Wyatt will drop one of his naps in the next couple of months, and then it'll be back to the drawing board.

Ok, so that's how I (mostly) make it work. Workin' mamas, share your secrets below, and future mamas, ask away! What else do you want to know?