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.

More secret weapons for the WAHM

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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.
Ariel Kostrna
Follow me
So far in our series on being a work-at-home mom, we’ve discussed the decision factors and logistics of working at home with a baby, the importance of not multitasking, and the usefulness of nap schedules. Now we’ll look at a few more tools to help you get the work you need done—while still being the best mom you can be.

Bonus secret weapon: the babysitter.

Before you start yelling at me about how the point of being a WAHM is that you don’t have to pay for childcare, here me out! I’m talking about getting a teen girl to come over once or twice a week for a few hours to play with your baby, not paying the big bucks for daycare. The key thing is that you’re home, so you don’t need someone whose super experienced or professional. If something goes wrong, you’re right there.

I chose a teenager who’s a family friend of ours. I don’t pay her a lot since I’m home too, and she likes the extra cash. It’s a win-win. I think having this extra bonus focus-time is a huge asset to your work productivity. I love having a babysitter twice a week because not only do I avoid the stressful/guilt-inducing situation of trying to work while Alan fusses for my attention, but I also get a concrete time I know I can count on to get work done.

Babies are babies, and sometimes even the best plans go awry and they mess up their schedule. Or maybe it’s teething, or a developmental leap, or just a bad nap. It happens! It is so frustrating when your baby wakes up crying halfway into their nap and you lose that work time, especially if you have a deadline. That’s why it’s so nice being able to rely on that hour or two the babysitter provides.

Babies and computers don’t mix!

Now I can’t really call this a secret weapon because it’s something all WAHM already use, but I just don’t want you to forget you have it in your arsenal. And that’s independent playtime.

It can get really easy for baby to get used to being entertained all day long. But it’s incredibly important for your little one to get “alone” time (with you still in the room, obviously) where they learn to explore the world on their own. Usually, you’ll want to put up a playard or set baby in a playpen for this time.

If they’re not used to this, they may fuss immediately and plead to be picked up. Give it some time! Keep them in for 5 or 10 minutes (set a timer) and tell them they did a great job and take them out. Soon they’ll get used to it and start to enjoy this playtime, and you can increase it to 30 or 45 min (dependent on your baby’s age).

Independent play does not contradict our weapon #1 (not multi-tasking) because it is a set, scheduled time. This is why it’s so important to use a timer! With the timer, baby knows it’s not arbitrary and he won’t be left in there for hours. When he knows what to expect, he’ll be totally happy, and you won’t be multitasking since he’ll be on his own.

Well, this concludes my ultimate list of tools for the WHAM. I’ll list them out again to wrap everything up:

Thanks for coming along and learning with me! I hope you’ve found some of this helpful, and I’d love if you could comment below with anything I’ve missed that’s been a help to you in your WAHM journey. 🙂

Here’s to all moms—the real-life superheroes!

Nap Schedule for Work at home mom

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

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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.
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.

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.

 

*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

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
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!