Thursday, October 15, 2015


(Note: I began this post over the summer, hence the Vancouver reference...)

Balance. Since I started working from home I've gotten a lot of questions about it, and to be honest I've kind of avoided writing about it because I feel silly giving advice to anyone. I, like anyone else, just kind of make it up as I go along. Most of the time it works well for me, but right now in fact, I write this from a plane on my way to Vancouver for a work trip after just getting back from a weekend away with some friends. I'm feeling pretty shitty about it, if you want to know the truth. The work trip popped up after I had already planned the weekend with my sister and girlfriends, so it became two trips in a row. Not okay in my book. I got home yesterday morning and hugged the boys for the past 24 hours, until I drove them down to Phoenix for the week. Tears. But they get to swim in a pool for four days straight and play with their cousin and have the best time with their family, so it's win for them, I'm sure. For me though? Sad, with a big dose of Mom Guilt. But then at the same time I'm excited about this work project, I'm excited to see a new place, I'm excited to see our ideas come to life. Two sides to the coin.

And balance...somedays I feel like I've got it down. I wake up early, I run, I work for a bit, make breakfast for the boys, we keep it going all day. I work during nap time. I blog somewhere in between, I start dinner before Hank gets home and we spend time hanging and playing before the boys go to sleep. Spend time with Hank before he's off to work on his own projects. Work again. Go to sleep. Wake up and do it again, and feel really damn good about it. Those are some days. Other days I feel like I'm not doing such a good job at anything. There will be a hundred things running through my mind and my brain skips from one thing to another, then back again, in a wild merry-go-round that truly has no ending. The crazy days don't happen too much but on those days you can bet I'm texting Hank saying "IS IT 5PM YET! I FEEL INSANE! HELP!" And then he gets home and I kind of melt into him, and I swear, everything is okay again. He tells me to go into the office, put on headphones, and get stuff done until I feel better again. And I always do. Bless that Hank.

But that elusive work-home balance...hmm. That's a tough one, and I think maybe even more so when you work from home, because everything kind of bleeds into everything else. After I left teaching and my main "job" was just my blog (I use that term very, very loosely) I never felt pressure to get a post done or reply to my own emails within an hour, but once I began consulting and was working on someone else's time, I sure did. This made mapping out my days imperative. So now I try to wake up early enough to get my workout done AND bust out some emails. I work best in the morning, so an hour of time there is worth a lot.

Most of the time I feel like I have this meter in my brain. Sometimes I'm totally killing it on the friend front- I'm able to schedule playdates and friend dates, text and call, then other weeks I have so much to do and I feel like I barely have time to leave an Instagram comment. That weight slips to one side. Do you feel that way too? There's a very fine balance that I totally hit sometimes, but rarely. I wonder if anyone out there knows the secret. I sure don't, and when I sat down to type a whole list of things that work for me, I felt like they were totally common sense things that everyone knows. Get ready in the morning, set aside chunks of time to work, be flexible and understand that because you're working from home things are bound to come up, with one million interruptions.

So what else could I add to this that could be new? I think the reason I started this post back in the summer and haven't finished it up until now is exactly that- I've read a million blogs on this topic and wanted to be sure to add something worthwhile to the mix. And the best way I know how to do that is to tell you how I do it, not tell you how YOU should do it. And maybe you can take a tiny morsel from my own experience and make it your own, or maybe not. Either way, here's what works for ME:

1. I asked for help. I work 40+ hours a week from home. I coordinate social media for Ergobaby and Orbit Baby, as well as take on various projects on my own outside of that gig (which is my main job), and I also recently began contracting hours to a PR firm in San Francisco. I help with outreach, press releases, etc. Then I also have this blog I try to keep up the best I can. I'm busy. So once things started getting slightly crazy Hank and I decided that I would hire a nanny/babysitter 1-2x a week. Our sweet helper is an old student of mine, and comes for three hours a day at least once a week, often twice, but also comes for full days if I have to travel for work. My parents and sister help when I have to be out of town, and my mother-in-law also takes the boys for three hours 1x per week, so between those times, 2-hour naptime for Charlie while Henry is at school, and working at night while Hank is at work/at band practice, it's successful if I have to be away or work at home. Help though, is key for us, and I could not do it without the 10ish hours a week the boys spend with our babysitter or family.

2. I know my WHY and my priorities, and keep them in my mind as I take on a new job or project, or figure out how I want to use my time. For me my family is my Why and will always come first, and everything else is secondary. I've learned many lessons over the past few years in regards to being protective of my time, and moving forward I've been trying to say no more than yes. The power of no, right? ha. But I have to do this to protect the time I have with my number one priority. For other people their level of what's important may be different than mine, or circumstances demand priorities to change, and of course that's okay- to each their own. But I feel like it's always a good idea to be aware of what your list is, so you can plan accordingly and move through life with the biggest things leading you as you make decisions.

3. I utilize lists. I make a list every single Friday that is kind of just one big running checklist of things I've done and things I'm doing. I began doing this for Ergo but now do it in my everyday life. It's basically a three section list: Done, To-Do, and Big Ongoing Projects. I simply list the things I've done (referencing the previous week's to-dos- this helps to see holes in what I still need to complete), then list the next week's to-dos, and also revisit my big projects list. This is specifically for my day-to-day life and any job outside of Ergobaby, including this blog. It works so well for me and I keep it right at my desk, and it truly boosts my productivity to stay so organized.

4. I create boundaries. Here's the deal, the last thing I ever, ever want my kids to remember is me on my phone. Tough when I'm so connected and so many aspects of my life are media-based. But I try to make it a major point to work during work time and play during play time. I obviously still take photos and love to document with my phone in hand, but I always remind myself that almost anything can wait. That's a boundary that I had to set after taking a step back and seeing myself rushing through whatever I was doing to answer an email, take a call, whatever. That didn't make me feel good to notice that. So now I really try hard to work during work time (most of the time! ;))

5. When I'm there, I'm all there. Okay not really. But on my best days, yes. This can be applied to basically any aspect of life- when you're doing something, really do it. I keep this in mind when working. If I have an hour to work I try to focus and be all there, tune out distractions (so hard with so much stuff to look at online, right?). But I attempt to put 100% of myself and all of my focus into that work. And then when I step out of our office and into the living room with the kids, I can feel 100% good about being 100% there with them. It's just what works best for me- to keep that in my mind, always.

I still feel kind of silly sharing all of this, especially the last one, because hey, we all know to be all there. And I look back at so many posts I've shared over the years and smile to myself, thinking I knew it all. None of us do! But like I said up there, here's what works for me. Maybe not the newest advice, but things that make world run smoothly, for sure. I also would love to share a whole different post on how I balance my own interests along with being a mama, so I'll have to work on that next.

To wrap up, let me know if you have any questions- I'm happy to answer in the comments below. I also have something exciting coming up in two weeks, related to this topic. Stay tuned! xoxo


  1. I really, really loved this post. I am not at a point in my life where I have children to consider in my day to day, but I have reached a point where I value my time with my husband more than my job. I work in the hospitality industry, so I don't get the luxury of holidays or vacations, or even weekends with my husband. Just out of curiosity, what PR firm do you work for? How did you come to work for them? That is my dream job. I majored in PR in college, but I haven't been able to land a job. It can be really discouraging, but that's a whole different story. Thanks for being so lovely and sharing your heart.

  2. Thanks for sharing! Just curious why you started working again. I'm contemplating staying home a while or working from home. I remember you writing about being very happy to stay home. Did you need a new thing to think about, or a challenge? It seems like you're enjoying it :)

  3. I don't know how you do this, but you somehow manage to write exactly what I need to read WHEN I need to read it. I just transitioned to fully working all from home all the time, writing romance novels and also working as a virtual assistant to other authors. Everything you're saying is just what I desperately need--that balance. Thank you for writing this, so much.

    1. I'm so curious - how does one begin working as a virtual assistant for authors? Something I'd definitely be interested in!

  4. Ana Cb / Dummy mommyOctober 16, 2015 at 2:28 PM

    Completely agree with every point of your post, thanks for sharing it!
    I am Spanish and in Spain it is very difficult for the mothers to conciliate the family life with the labor one. In my case, mommy of two baby boys, I lost my job when I was pregnant . Although I am a full time mum also I have time to write a blog and other things... Good job congratulations ☺

  5. wooooow, absolutely flawless environment


  6. Thank you for writing this. It was actually very helpful. I work at home full time and have two boys your age. We have been trying to get the babysitting situation figured out because it's crazy right now. Sometimes I dream about how easy it will be when they are in school and then I feel bad. Thanks!

  7. I'm really struggling with this right now; I'm a full-time high school English teacher, wife to a man that works very long hours to a job that requires a commute, mother to a crazy 1.5 year old, and girl who has her own hobbies. I'll probably have a nervous breakdown before I figure it all out, haha!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this, my situation is slightly different as my husband works away a week at a time so when hes home i work and he watches our kids, its a tough balancing act but now i know im not alone in the work/family juggling act! X

  9. I've been chasing the elusive balance in life for quite some time now, and while I've had "good" moments when I felt like I was finally getting it under control, I feel like I never really rebounded after my third child was born. I'm lucky in that I don't have to work but I am a graduate student with three kids, so I do have a few things on my plate. I have a humble personal blog, but just this past week finally decided (after nearly a year of tossing the idea around) to let go of the blog (of 6 years) to tip that balance closed towards the things that are my WHY, my #1 priority (my family). It's not JUST the blog, but I've deleted all but 3 social media accounts, enacted "technology fasting" times, learned to leave my camera behind every now and then when we're together (I'm a photographer, so that can be tough), and taken lots of little steps that have had a big impact on my ability to be PRESENT with my priority in this here and now. My oldest "baby" is now 11, and I swear she was just born last week - I'm realizing how important to it is to take advantage of THIS here and now, while it's still here. I will have the rest of my life to focus on a career, to hang out with friends, to do this and do that, but I only have NOW to soak up time with my 1, 5, and 11 year olds. I only have NOW to be the people they are today. Anyway, I'm rambling, I just thought it was apropos that this post popped up now, when I've made a pretty big step in tipping my balance in a new direction. <3

  10. I'm so glad I found this post! I have been feeling challenged lately on finding balance between work and home life. Some days are great and I try to live in those moments but others are horrible and seem to way me down. It's so nice to read other people who struggle with this to know I'm not alone. Thank you for shrine this.