Tag Archives: Work-Life Balance

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
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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 at Home with a Baby: Where to Start

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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
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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?

How to Vacation & Keep Your Business Running

We all know the importance of taking a break from work. Now that summer is here, it’s time to spend a week or so away with the family — a vacation to recharge and relax.

But it’s not so easy to just forget about work — especially if you’re the business owner! So here’s some tips we’ve gathered to help you keep your business running while enjoying much-needed vacation time.vacation

Delegate tasks – Ask yourself, “Do I absolutely HAVE to do this?” Chances are, you could delegate many tasks to a trusted assistant while you’re gone. In fact, you may not have realized the capabilities of some of your staff until they’ve been given the opportunity to do more.

Tell your Clients – Anyone who is used to contacting you directly will need to know to contact your assistant instead. Everyone understands that vacations are important. Set clear boundaries and expectations with them.

Set a “work hour” –  Find a specific block of time each day or few days during your vacation that you will check in with the office, get briefed and answer any urgent questions. This may even be a virtual meeting.

Set an Emergency Contact Method – Text, call or email? You’ll have to decide what’s the best way to be contacted in case of emergency. Remember to be totally clear with your staff of what is an emergency (when it is OK to call you) and what can wait for this work hour.

Practice Ahead of Time – Ask your employees, “How would you solve this if you couldn’t get a hold of me?” with some different scenarios. That way if something comes up when you’re out of reach, you’ll be confident they can handle it.

Unplug – If your work email comes up on your smartphone or tablet (that you’ll be using on your vacation), disconnect that account before you leave so you won’t be tempted by emails coming in. You can always reconnect after you return. Also don’t forget to automate an “out of office” reply for your email.

These guidelines should help you be able to totally unplug from work, until that specific time comes for you to check in. This will cause a much more relaxed vacation than if someone from the office is calling you randomly throughout the day!


Further reading: 

http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/workforce-management/hr-management-skills/managing-during-a-vacation.aspx

http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2014/10/24/how-to-work-while-on-vacation-a-guide-for-those-who-cant-fully-unplug/2/#dd084ab77fb7

https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-right-way-to-unplug-when-youre-on-vacation/