Sometimes, the only time we have to get anything done is while our kids are napping. Check out the 9 tasks that will help you leverage this precious time, as well as 13 ways to keep older (or more stubborn) kids occupied.
I always hesitate when telling someone that I’m going to do a rant post. In the back of my mind I feel like they think I’m about to launch into a Peter Griffin style “you know what really grinds my gears” type rant. So at the risk of someone thinking I’m a Family Guy fan (which I’m not), you know what really grinds my gears? Our culture’s undervaluing of artisans and creatives.
Once upon a time artists were appreciated. In medieval times, parents took their children to be apprenticed to artisans & craftsmen, because “masters” of the craft often had a higher social standing in their community.
Because only the wealthy could afford such luxuries, and the more skilled someone was, the more desirable their goods were. You could end up making things for a wealthy landowner, or a lord of the court, or even a king.
So artisans were prized. Valued. Appreciated.
Fast forward to today. Now we have companies selling shirts that say “Aspiring Young Artist President”, as if being a politician is somehow a worthier plan than pursuing your God-given creative giftings.
We have people commenting on people’s social media posts, to inform them how unimpressed they are with their college degree, because “you only have a lib arts degree”. Firstly, everyone goes through the same core stuff. Secondly, you have no idea what they minored in (or if they double majored). Thirdly, why is a liberal arts degree a thing to be demeaned?
How can we fix this?
First, we need to stop putting creativity/artistry into a box. For some reason, people say things like “I’m not creative… I don’t paint”, or “I’m not creative, I can’t draw a stick figure”. Let’s take a second and look at some of the things that fall under the artistic umbrella…
Quilling (also called paper filigree)
I could go on, but I’ll stop there. You’re seriously telling me that you can’t do any of those? Maybe, but could you learn even one? Yes. I know right now you’re thinking “but Amanda, some of those are learned skills… glass blowing? You can’t just jump up and do it!”
True. That’s the point. Any of these can be learned. No one wakes up knowing how to do quilting. Are some people more bent towards a certain skill? Maybe. I think it could be argued that some people are more persistent in pursuing certain skills.
Secondly, practice is an astonishing thing. Back a year or two ago I read an article in Huffington Post about the value of practice. The differences people made in 6 months, or a year were amazing. And yes, the people who have put in decades of practice are putting out seriously incredible work, but everyone starts somewhere.
Thirdly, stop defining your skills by someone else’s creations. If Picasso had tried to paint like Monet, the world wouldn’t know his name. Many artists struggle with feeling appreciated… over the years the world has lost many bright stars because they didn’t realize how needed they truly were. And the tragedy is that they never truly learned to appreciate their own work.
It’s become almost a rite of passage for being a creative.
I hear it all the time…. “Oh I just hate my own work… you know how it is, you’re an artist”. Why do we feel like it’s mandatory to dislike our own work? Are we trying to achieve perfection? Are we afraid of being called out for cockiness? Whatever it is, our own inability to be own our own best salesperson has caused a culture where no one understands how precious creativity is.
So here’s my plea… stop saying you’re not creative. I guarantee that you are. And if you can’t figure out how you’re creative, you can email me, and I’ll help you out.
For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, the second week was running a business with a toddler, and today I’ll be talking about will be school-aged kids.
In general I’ve had the typical parenting experience… I’ve been been barfed on, pooped on, and drooled on. I’ve had peanut butter smeared on just about every dark shirt I’ve ever owned, and I’ve learned that if you cheer when your toddler falls on their butt, they’re much less likely to freak out.
But the one thing I have never dealt with, is a child in the bathroom with me while I’m bathing or peeing. Watch the video and find out why. 😉
Like I said in the video… I don’t want my children to think the world revolves around them, but I want them to know that they come before my business. Additionally, I want to be providing a good quality example of what entrepreneurship looks like for my children. Not only am I raising future adults, but I hope that I’m raising future entrepreneurs, and I would want them creating healthy boundaries too.
What are your tips for creating boundaries with your children?
For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, next week will be school-aged kids, and today I’ll be talking about running a business with toddlers.
Recently I’ve started reading up on busy boxes/bags. I don’t even recall where I ran across the term, but the concept is pretty simple. It’s a box (or bag) of toys/games/etc., to keep little hands occupied. When I see work at home mom’s talking about it, they have a box or boxes that are for use only when they’re working. Especially for things like conference calls, when you might need a little extra help keeping them entertained.
Since I’ve only just started looking into this myself, I can’t give you any cool photos of the ones I’ve created. But I promise to do a follow up post with what I come up with. For now, here’s a quick round up of some places where you can get some amazing ideas!
For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. Next week I’ll cover working around toddlers, week after will be school-aged kids, and today I’ll be talking about running a business with a baby.
2 weeks before Christmas 2014, I was told that the sonographer might have miscalculated my due date, and I might in fact be having the baby on Christmas Day. She didn’t end up arriving until the 2nd week of January (my originally calculated due date), but the lesson is clear: Make sure you’re ready, well before the baby actually arrives.
It’s human nature… there’s 9 months to prep for a baby’s arrival, but rarely do we feel prepared when it’s go-time. So if you’ve got a sweet bundle on the way, try to be as ready as possible before their arrival.
Every baby responds differently, so your mileage with each of these may vary.
1. Baby swing
Just like any tech, these have come a long way over the years. When I was a baby, the swings were a bit noisy, and they’d run through batteries pretty quickly. I remember younger siblings being manually pushed periodically as the battery’s drain caused the swing to go slower, and slower.
Now they last longer than ever, some of them can be plugged into the wall with an AC adaptor, and my very favorites swing 2 ways. They can sing forward/backward like traditional baby swings, but also side-to-side.
Cradles are super portable, and this allows you to work but still have the baby near you. Sometimes all they want is to be able to see Mama, and hear her voice.
These have a very limited time that they can be used, because as they get bigger and begin rolling over, the cradle is no longer a safe option. So if you can get one on sale, or just pass it on when you’re done so it continues to be useful, that would be a great way to go.
3. Baby wrap
I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, so I’ll link you to some resources for this.
What I can tell you is that there are tons of options for baby-wearing. You can use sling wraps, stretch wraps, woven wraps… you’re sure to find one that will work for you and your baby.
Also, you can often find local babywearing groups, many of which have a “lending library” so you can test out different baby wraps/carriers.
Okay so now you’re probably wondering… how can you have set hours, but still be flexible? Okay… what I mean by this is, be prepared to work around your baby (and if you have other kids, then be prepared to work around all of their individual needs).
But while you’re working around your baby’s feeding/sleeping/clingy schedule, make sure that you’re not working 24/7. Set parameters to work within. Hours that you will not be working.
If you wake up at 3am to feed the baby, don’t try to check your email. You might be awake enough to read it, but you run the risk of not being awake enough to answer it clearly. Make your off-work hours sacred for baby snuggles, kid cuddles, husband-time, Netflix binging, and (hopefully) sleep.
One simple way to be super productive, is to batch your tasks. For example, if you get ready to schedule your social media posts for the day, go ahead and schedule your posts for the week (or the next 2 days, or however much you have time for).
6. Work in Cycles
If you (like a lot of creatives) like to bounce around from project to project, a good way to make sure you stay focused is to use an app like 30/30.
Based on the Pomodoro technique, this app lets you create a set of tasks (and allot an amount of time that you want to spend). I also schedule in fun things like dance breaks, or a coloring break, and I schedule in Facebook time.
If I schedule in fun time, and social media breaks, I’m more like to stay on focus for the rest of my tasks.
7. Maximum Impact/Minimum Time
If you’ve only got a short time amount of time (which isn’t unusual for moms) figure out what will give you the biggest result for the least amount of time.
Here’s a hint for figuring out your most likely focus: what are your money makers? Answering emails is quick, but probably not your biggest bang for your buck.
If you’re an author, then put that small spot of time into writing. You may not be able to write a whole chapter, but if you get a page or two done, that’s one step closer than you were. If you’re a photographer, work on editing a session, or create an ad for your next season.
This works really well in coordination with batching. Write a bunch of blog posts over a weekend, and schedule them out for the rest of the month. Write up your social media posts over an hour, and schedule them out for the next week.
The more you can batch/automate, the more time you’ll have for focusing on your maximum impact activities… painting, editing, writing, etc.
9. Discuss Family Roles
Having a family meeting before the baby arrives can help answer questions, and set minds at ease. This gives you the opportunity to reassure your older children that they’re still important, and discuss with your husband what a good schedule will be.
You can use family meetings to plan out set days off, or make everyone aware of upcoming calls/appointments/creative sessions. These are also a great time to discuss plans for your next family day… will it be a game night? Movie night? Are you ordering pizza?
10. Plenty of Sleep
It should go without saying, but we’re Moms. So it bears repeating. Less sleep doesn’t just mean less energy. It means slower reflexes, reduced logical thinking, and less patience. All of these are vital for a business owner, but they’re extremely important for a mom.
I tell my kids… “Mommy needs a nap so she won’t be cranky later”. Simple, but true.
11. Accept Help
Some people accept help readily.
I am NOT one of those people. I’m stubborn, and fiercely independent to my own detriment at times.
But especially when the baby arrives, you need all the help you can get. So if someone offers to bring food, LET THEM. Soon enough everyone will go their own way and you’ll find yourself staring at the clock, wishing the pizza fairy would stop by your house.
And if your husband or older kids want to help around the house, LET THEM.
I have a bad habit of wanting to go back behind my kids and re-do what they’ve done. I used to do this to my husband too… he has his own style when it comes to folding the laundry.
But when I redo what they’ve done, they notice. And they think they shouldn’t even try… why bother, Mom’s just going to redo it anyway. I don’t want to foster an atmosphere where my children (or husband) no longer feel like their efforts are appreciated.
I also don’t want my children to be come extreme perfectionists either.
12. Don’t Start Back TOO Soon
If this is your first baby, this advice goes triple for you. Babies take more time than you’ve probably even considered. And this isn’t bad at all… these are precious times, and if you dive fullbore into your business, you can miss some amazing times with your little snugglebug.
Feel free to ease yourself back into work. This isn’t a 12-week maternity leave job. And your business doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
13. Time For You
Sometimes we over complicate this one… “Oh I’ve got a full day, there’s just no time for me.”
Alexandra Stoddard* talks a lot about creating little moments throughout your day… making things (even mundane things) as pleasant as they can possibly be.
So maybe you don’t have time to go get your hair done, or have coffee with a friend, but you can create moments…
Get handcrafted soap and turn your showers into an experience
Turn email into an experience by having your favorite tea while you go through it
Buy a wonderful coloring book, and some nice pencils, and pause periodically for a coloring break (you don’t have to color an entire page… you can do pieces at a time)
Pause for a dance break!
14. Support Network
I can’t underline this one enough. Having a support network can be a serious lifeline.
Some people don’t have supportive husbands, and I hate that, because mine is wonderfully supportive. He’s more supportive of me, than I am. Ha! Seriously though…
But even if your husband is awesome, one person doesn’t create a network. So you need to have several peeps that you can go to. Try having one or two people for different areas of your life… a family member that you can vent to, a business associate who can give you perspective (or feedback on a new project), a friend you can go on coffee dates with…. your network can be as big as you need it to be.
I’d love to hear you from YOU now. What are your go-to tips for running a biz with a wee one around?
*anything with an asterisk indicates an affiliate link. Money received from affiliate purchases goes towards coffee, books, and world domination.
In recent videos, it’s been mentioned that I have more than one calendar. Of course, when I make a video I can’t see the viewers faces, but I always imagine that my viewers are a bit amused upon hearing this.
Isn’t that kind of crazy?
Isn’t it hard enough to keep up with one?
So here’s how I do it. I have an annual calendar that’s on my wall. My favorite at the moment is NeuYear*. It’s a pretty decent size, so the squares are large enough for me to write down a holiday, topic to blog on. I can also use the little rectangular post-its on the calendar. This is my overall view of upcoming posts, so I can glance at it, and know what I’m doing on my blog.
I have my calendar pages that I’ve printed out…. simple ones from CoSchedule get used for plotting my editorial calendar. Yes, I know I just mentioned blog posts on my NeuYear calendar, but I intensely dislike doing the actual planning on the great big calendar. I like to plan, chilling on my bed, with a big glass of peach sweet tea… and then transfer those to the big calendar.
My pretty calendar pages are from Mayi Carles’ Life Is Messy Planners* (seen above), and I use those for mapping out birthdays, crochet projects, and basically anything that’s not my editorial calendar.
Last of all, I use Google calendars. Any coaching goes here, regardless of whether I’m coaching or being coached. Any Skype/Google Hangout dates go here. Any webinars go here. Any Twitter chats that I attend on a recurring basis go here. My church’s calendar is also synced up to Google calendars, so I know if I have a choir meeting coming up, or any other kind of team meeting.
So at the beginning of the week, I quickly scan each calendar… I acquaint myself with any appointments, birthdays, or blog posts that I need to be aware of. Then as each night closes out, I write up my to-do list, and usually I recall the big things I needed to remember. But I do quickly peruse my calendars just to make sure.
I also make sure that those meetings on my Google calendars alert me the day before (comes in handy for my to-do lists), and 30 minutes before the actual event (perfect for busy moms).
*Anything with an asterisk next to it, means that it’s a referral link, so yes I get a wee bit pitched back my way, which of course towards gummy bears & world domination.
So one week ago, I guest posted over at One Woman Shop, but I was super sick and feeling very muddle-y. I’ve still got the dreadful bronchitis cough (goodness why does that stick around so long?) but I’m blending traditional and alternative medicine to try and take this beast down.
I gave 5 super simple steps for creating a routine that will work for you… and guess what the best part is? Nowhere in there do I say that you should get up at 5am! Isn’t that fantastic? 😀