Author Archives: Ariel Kostrna

About Ariel Kostrna

I absolutely love helping people grow! One of the best ways I can do that is by sharing things that I've found helpful, in any area of life.

Nap Schedule for Work at home mom

Schedules: The WAHM’s Secret Weapon #2 for Sanity & Productivity

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Ariel Kostrna

Virtual Assistant at AVA Virtual Assistance
I absolutely love helping people grow! One of the best ways I can do that is by sharing things that I've found helpful, in any area of life.
Ariel Kostrna
Follow me
Work at Home moms have a unique set of challenges. We’ve covered why and how to be a WAHM first, then last time we talked about the importance of being able to give 100% to both your work and your baby, in turn. Today we’ll tackle my favorite method (and the only method I’ve found that’s actually worked!) for being able to do that. As a stay-at-home mom, it can feel impossible to find a consistent time to give work 100%. The key is…

Secret Weapon #2: Start Scheduling

I know a lot of people don’t like the “s” word. But scheduling is an absolute life-saver for the WAHM. When used correctly, schedules foster calm and order while reducing chaos and stress. The important thing to determine when creating a schedule is how rigid you want it to be. Trying to keep a strict to-the-minute schedule will likely only add to your stress instead of lessening it—especially when we’re working with babies, who are by nature unpredictable. So loose is a key word here.

As soon as your baby is three months old, their sleep begins to stabilize.* At this point, not only can they fall asleep by themselves, but they actually begin to enjoy structure as well. Babies thrive on the stability of a routine, so the bonus of having a schedule is that your baby may enjoy it just as much as you! I can’t recommend creating and implementing a nap schedule more highly. It has made a world of difference in this mom’s life.

Nap Schedule for Work at home mom

There are a lot of great resources to learn more about nap schedules, but the most important thing is to find the perfect waketime for your baby (the time between each nap). Use a list like this one as a starting point, and you’ll soon discover what your baby’s ideal waketime length is. Then you can create your nap schedule around that. (As your baby grows, this waketime will continue to stretch every one or two months. So your schedule will shift, but the following principle remains the same.)

When your baby sleeps, work! It will be tempting to start cleaning the house or tackling the dishes. Resist the urge! You can do housework while baby plays next to you or hangs out in a pack, so it’s a waste to use this totally quiet, uninterrupted time for those tasks. Put your phone down, dive into your work and get some quality focus time in. I’ve found I am actually even more productive in less time since becoming a mom—those quiet nap periods are so precious and limited that I become doubly focused!

Now, for some WAHMs, this will be enough work time in a day. But keep in mind you should always schedule in some downtime, so just because your baby theoretically sleeps 3 hours in any given day doesn’t mean you will clock in exactly 3 hours. Sometimes, too, it’s important to take 15 or 20 minutes as soon as baby falls asleep to take some well-deserved R&R! (I do this once a day at the beginning of Alan’s last nap, and it is much needed!) So if you can’t get all your work in done in those few hours, it’s time to take a look at my “bonus” secret weapons (coming next month… stay tuned).

I hope this post has given you a little insight on why I love scheduling so much. There are a lot of resources to find out more about baby sleep and scheduling, but the most important thing is to find out what works for you. Experiment and remember that no two babies are alike. And don’t forget to check back soon for my next post!

 

*Before three months of age, it’s more difficult to get consistency, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get work done. At this stage they often sleep best on Mom, so get a carrier or wrap and wear that baby while you work! This might be a nice time to invest in a stand-up desk so you can stand and bounce while you’re at the computer…

Working Mom at home

Stop giving 50/50: The WAHM’s Secret Weapon for Sanity & Productivity

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Ariel Kostrna

Virtual Assistant at AVA Virtual Assistance
I absolutely love helping people grow! One of the best ways I can do that is by sharing things that I've found helpful, in any area of life.
Ariel Kostrna
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As we talked about in the last post, being a work-at-home mom can be very rewarding, but it doesn’t come without its challenges! Just imagine how productive your workday would be if there were a tiny human in the office with you who couldn’t do anything on their own. (Hint: not very productive!)

I remember when I first started working again after having my son. He was three months old and I was excited to rejoin my amazing AVA team. However, I soon found out just how tricky being a work-at-home mom (WAHM) was going to be. Maybe you can relate: you think you have the best of both worlds but then discover trying to do two challenging jobs simultaneously is not a piece of cake. The good news is, it can be feasible—and enjoyable. You just have to utilize a few secret weapons.

So today, let’s look at my first key tip for maintaining sanity and increasing productivity for the WAHM.Working Mom at home

Secret Weapon #1: Stop Multitasking

Wait, what? Isn’t the whole working mom thing all about multitasking? For some personalities, maybe. But for me, I found my stress decreased and my productivity and happiness increased when I stopped multitasking. Let me explain.

When I first started working from home postpartum, I would often set up my son, Alan, beside me in a bouncer or on the floor with some toys. He would play for a little while by himself, but soon he would grow restless without any interaction or attention. I’d try to look over and smile or talk to him, but he wanted—needed—interaction. Babies grow rapidly and as their brain is developing, interaction and stimulation are necessary pieces to that growth.

Not only was I beginning to feel like a bad mom for ignoring my baby while I worked, but the lack of consistent focus on whatever task I was doing was also incredibly counterproductive. Every time I’d look away to hand him a new toy or pick him up if he was fussing, I’d have to re-orient myself to what I was doing. I’m sure many of you have experienced trying to work while being frequently distracted. It’s not a good use of time and quite draining to boot.

The solution for me was to focus on only one role at a time. If it was Mom, I was 100% there. Alan had my full attention. If it was VA, I was 100% there. Work had my full attention. I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief once I got this down. No more being torn between two things and not giving either one my all. I felt like both a good mom and a good employee. Each in their own time. Score!

I hope this sheds a little light on why giving 50/50 is exhausting and frustrating for both you and your baby. Trying to pay attention to both work and baby at the same time ends up with you giving only half your best to each. So you know you’re reading to make a change… but how to accomplish this 100/100 lifestyle? That, my friend, is my 2nd secret weapon… stay tuned!

Working at Home with a Baby: Where to Start

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Ariel Kostrna

Virtual Assistant at AVA Virtual Assistance
I absolutely love helping people grow! One of the best ways I can do that is by sharing things that I've found helpful, in any area of life.
Ariel Kostrna
Follow me
When you hear “work-at-home mom,” what image comes to your mind? Is it a relaxed woman in comfy sweats drinking a hot cup of coffee and closing her laptop after an hour of good work to get her peacefully sleeping baby?  Or is it a frazzled woman with a milk-stained shirt trying to balance a wailing baby on her hips while buttering toast, all while on a phone call with a client?

Every working mom has to find the careful balance of mothering, working, and the rest of life on the side—but the dynamic certainly changes if she’s working from home.

While many mothers dream of working from home with their little ones, it’s often much more of a challenge than they anticipate. In the next several months I’ll be posting a series of articles of things I’ve learned as I try to navigate this new season of life.  I hope to answer a few of your questions, as well as offer some tips I’ve found helpful as a new mother of a 7-month-old who’s working from home.

So where to start? Well, right at the very beginning: making the decision to be a work-at-home mom (or WAHM in internet lingo). Obviously, a lot of us can’t work from home for one reason or another. I feel extremely blessed to be a virtual assistant who can both be at home with her son and have the creative, lucrative outlet of work. If you have a job where you can work virtually, I’m talking to you! And if you’re not sure, please talk to your boss about it. Chances are, they may be happy to try to facilitate you working from home for at least a couple days a week, if you present your case with confidence. A good boss will realize that your level of satisfaction directly affects your work performance.

Freelance-type work (like being a virtual assistant) is ideal for the WAHM. That’s because your work hours are extremely flexible (which is a very good thing, because most often you work when baby sleeps!) So if you fit in that category, you’ve already got a great start. But even if your hours are set, don’t despair! Our next post is all about scheduling.

I actually pursued working as a virtual assistant for this exact reason. Many years before I ever got pregnant, I jumped at the chance to work for AVA Virtual Assistance because I knew that I’d want to be able to work from home when I had a baby. And now that I have one, I’m really glad I did!

But how to make it work once you’ve established that you will indeed be a WAHM? That’s what we’ll start on next time. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Are you currently working at home? Planning to? How and why did you decide to be a WAHM?