3 Tips for Running a Business as a Stay-At-Home Parent
When I first discovered I was pregnant, I saw my career aspirations slipping away. I had recently graduated from my Master’s program and landed my first adult job. We didn’t live close to grandparents to help us with childcare and the costs of day care was not in our budget. So, I left my new job and started working for myself from home.
The idea seemed reasonable until I had my child and I was barely standing up straight, let alone getting a career off the ground. How was I to pursue my dreams and raise a well-cared for child? I didn’t want to stop creating because that was a piece of me that I longed to cultivate. Yet, here I was in a new role, as mom, that also needed cultivating.
I am still learning, adjusting and staying flexible each day, but here are three healthy ways you can be a stay-at-home parent and also pursue your creative dreams.
1. Make the Most of Nap Times
I often hear new stay-at-home parents say that they can juggle raising an infant and their career. Can I just tell you from experience—it doesn’t really work that way. Your child is incredibly demanding physically, emotionally, and mentally. When my one-year old goes down for a nap, all I want to do is lay on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix. Or, perhaps I didn’t sleep the night before and I need to nap while he is napping. I tell myself the night before that I am going to finish my to-do list but, the next day comes and I can barely hold a conversation.
Sometimes, these mental breaks are necessary but if you are trying to maintain a creative endeavor, you are going to need to turn off the TV and get focused. When I don’t pick up the remote and choose to sit down at my computer, I usually get a lot done and feel satisfied in my work. These days, I get one nap per day and I set a timer. For forty-five minutes, I need to answer emails or write copy for a client. The other forty-five minutes, I can eat lunch while watching a favorite show. It’s a win-win for myself and my goals.
2. Take a Phone Call Outside
If you have a meeting that doesn’t need to take place over a computer, get outside with your kid(s). I can easily check email, pull up my calendar or take a notes while having fun at the playground. Or, I can take a meeting over speaker phone while I push the stroller. Getting outside immediately improves my mental and physical health while keeping my kiddo engaged.
3. Give Yourself Grace
Yes, this last one is less about tangible productivity but more about emotional health. I was getting frustrated when my son refused to take naps, woke up early, or screamed in my ear during a phone call. I made plans. I had a list. I wanted to get everything done.
But, things did not go as expected. My disappointment was not healthy for me or my son. So, I had to change my expectations. I went from Type-A, over-achiever to a more grace-filled mom that throws herself a party if she gets one thing done. I cried many selfish tears to get to this place, but it has been healthier for my emotions to stay flexible with my work.
My advice is writing down three things you’d like to get done that day. Maybe it’s answering emails, making dinner and dropping packages off at the post office. This list makes everything easier to swallow and if I don’t get to the post office because a nap goes longer than anticipated; there is always tomorrow.
I often feel like I am crashing more than thriving because this tension between parenting and creating is hard to navigate. But, it won’t be like this forever. Right now I can take some extra breaths and do my best. That’s all we can do whether we are a parent or not, is give our best and take delight in that being our best work.