Supermom. Strong. Capable.
Ever actually feel like that? What’s a work-at-home mom to do? How do we handle the pressure of being a “good mom” and maintaining a home, while still pursuing the dream of owning a business and working from home? There are tools I use every day that make me a better mom, better business owner, better writer and better person.
Some days I feel like a fraud.
If I stop to think about everything I must manage daily, I get overwhelmed. I don’t say this to brag — I’m terrified! My to-do list is a mile long and includes everything from updating social media for my blogs to tackling laundry mountain. Between the kids, the house and my clients, I’m torn in so many directions, some days I feel like I’m going to fly apart.
I don’t do everything as often as I’d like. And I don’t do a lot of things every day. I don’t everything well. While I do attempt to stay on top of things, but .. like any balancing act, sometimes I lean in one direction a bit more than another.
It gets pretty crazy around here.
There are a few tools that I have that help. One is my Planner Pad. I absolutely depend on this. I’ve gone ahead and ordered next year’s already, simply because I cannot function without it. It holds my to-do lists for my business and my home, and all the appointments for my kids, my business, and our homeschool life. It is also control-central for my financial papers, medical forms and anything else that is in my “current” file.
The second thing I cannot live without is my smart phone. Currently I have a Samsung Galaxy, and I love it. It has my emails, all my social media, my camera, my messengers, my music, my kindle, my radio apps, my podcasts and of course, my phone. This thing is pretty much glued to my hand. (Yes, I’m addicted.) Even my kids know that mama’s phone is going to be on me or near me, and can’t be touched without permission.
The right tool will help.
My third secret weapon is my menu plan. When your life is consumed with decisions, sometimes its better to get some things decided ahead of time. I plan out a menu weekly, and while I’m planning our food, I’m also reviewing our schedule — what days we have activities, medical appointments and my work schedule — so that I plan my meals accordingly. It’s not a good thing to plan to make roast chicken on a day where I’m only going to have 30 minutes between a work call and my daughter’s swimming lesson.
Another secret weapon is this chore plan. It’s free, it’s self-updating, and it helps me make sure that everything that needs to be cleaned gets cleaned. Eventually. I’ve also hired a cleaner on a once-a-month basis, just to help keep up.
My favorite business tools right now are my OneDrive and my OneNote. The sync between my laptop and my phone (where I have both apps) is seamless and automatic, meaning that if I take a picture on my phone, it’s automatically captured by my OneDrive app, and I can access it on my computer. I keep all my content planning and business notes on my One Note app, and it again seamlessly updates between phone and computer. So I can type in changes to a blog post or take notes on a client call on my laptop, and then be able to save articles, pictures or jot down ideas on my phone while I’m on the go.
Alternatives would be EverNote, Google Drive, Dropbox or something similar. I do have all of those, but I love my OneDrive app, because I don’t have to deliberately remember to upload or save pictures to Google Drive or Dropbox — it does it automatically.
So how do I do it all?
To be honest, I’m not really sure. I think some of my ability to handle this much comes from the fact that processing, reading, writing, and decision making is very fast for me. That’s a natural talent. I’ve always been able to read very quickly (and I mean, very quickly. A 200 page novel will take me about an hour.). I type almost as quickly as I can think, so I’m able to keep up (that’s what instant messaging before smart phones when you’re a teen does, lol!). So I’m fortunate that I have some natural gifts that let me accomplish tasks easier and faster than some others.
I multitask a lot. I know, I know, a lot of experts say you shouldn’t multitask. But I don’t have the luxury of NOT multitasking. Currently, while I’m writing this blog, I’m also folding laundry, checking homework, and saving future content to share later to my OneNote. It’s rare (and relaxing) for me to just sit and do one thing.
Multitasking works best when you pare up mindless tasks with things that require concentration. So I can work with my children on their lessons while also editing pictures for my blog or social media feeds. I can exercise and write at the same time. I can fold laundry or do dishes while listening to a podcast or webinar for my own research. I’ve actually found that I can learn more, faster, and remember it better when my hands and eyes are occupied while I’m listening.
Finally, I take breaks, regularly and frequently. I’m often working late at night, after the kids are in bed. So on the weekends I don’t have my children, I will deliberately be lazy and sleep in, and take my time getting up. I will take a day and read a fiction book or watch a favorite tv show. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere I enjoy most, without an agenda in mind. I indulge in good chocolate. “Occasionally I get a mocha while I’m out, so that I can enjoy the moment’s pause to sip it. And I will spend an afternoon playing a video game, all so I can unwind and rest. This keeps me fresh and creative for every challenge that comes my way.
Parenting alone, working from home and homeschooling all at once is not for the faint at heart. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with the natural talent, the tools and the passion to make it all work. I also have the right supports, for me, in place, and I’m working on the systems and routines that help keep everything in order.
When you want to do it all, you need to find your rhythm — the right instruments, tempo and conductor to keep it all together.