Major disclaimer: please remember that this is just my version of working with a newborn. I’m under 30 and this is my only child, who we brought home through adoption (so my body didn’t physically have her). I run a successful (and profitable) business with a partner full time (we also have a small team). I have a life partner at home (baby daddy) who got 16 weeks paid leave, so I have also had his help. I won’t be referencing many timeframes in this post so you don’t beat yourself up if this isn’t your scenario. We’ll just be covering tips, tricks, strategies and mindsets that you can hopefully take away to make your worklife (with a newborn) a little easier.
In preparation for working from home once we our babe was here, I did a lot of Googling. I mostly found articles that said stuff like “work while she sleeps!”, “time block your tasks!” or “don’t expect to do anything for at least 4 months!”. I hated all of that advice.
First, let’s get real for a second. I’m freaking napping while she sleeps (especially in the early days) or staring at her or hosting yet another person who has chosen to stop by to meet her. The thought of hammering out a blog post at that time was laughable. Secondly, I’ve already said before that time blocking sucks, and it certainly didn’t change once I had a child. Thirdly, I love that my partner gets 16 weeks paid leave where he can just walk away and not think about work for 16 freaking weeks. That is not my life. That is not my reality. In order to keep an online business running, ya kind of can’t let it sit stagnant for 16 weeks.
So what’s a new parent to do?
Let’s start with a big fat dose of “take it day by day”. Look, there were days when our daughter was a freaking angel. She slept beautifully, she woke in an excellent mood, and she loved her independent time. I would look at these these good moments and think, “Man, she’s really getting the hang on life! She’s awesome!” And then 2 days later it would all come crashing down.
Babies cannot create a new normal that quickly. I realize that now. I’ve learned to hold off on my “call the presses celebrations” and wait it out for a hot minute. But when she was an angel, I took advantage of it like nobody’s business.
Now, let’s take it back a notch. We’re talking pre-baby here. Most of the relief that you’re going to get post-baby comes from what you can set up before. I already chatted about how to prepare for maternity leave, so be sure to check that post out if you still have time before your little one arrives (http://thinkcreativecollective.com/blog/how-to-prep-your-business-for-maternity-leave). I’ll be honest with you though, there are only so many blog posts / Instagram captions / automated emails that you can write beforehand. Your brain kind of goes to mush after about email 30 (not that I know what that feels like). But still, I really encourage you to go balls to the wall at this stage because you will thank yourself later.
Okay, back to the baby being here. What to do, when to do it, and how to continue to make it rain money.
Recognize that you will have a lull….but it doesn’t have to mean that you won’t make money. Listen, we both ended up taking leave (me for baby and Abagail for health reasons), so neither of us worked in our business in the entire month of January. We made about half the money that we did the month prior. And you know what? We threw ourselves a party.
How incredible that we can set systems up, let our team know what to do and step away and still make over $10k? Pretty incredible, that’s what.
If you want to know about all the automation tricks we put in place before we left, we lay all them out in our free program “Your Biz on Autopilot”.
So, let’s say you’ve gotten ahead as much as you can, you’ve set up some systems and maybe you’ve gotten yourself a VA. What now?
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
Take a look at all the tasks you need to do and rank them. I don’t want you to go from biggest to smallest or whatever. Here’s what I want you to do instead: figure out your snowball effect. What tasks can you do that will help others things function / grow / bring in money? Do those first.
Maybe it’s setting up an opt-in box or finishing the sales page so it can go live or sending out emails to book guest bloggers. You have to multi-task your tasks. Consider every task as if it were a team member. What job does it do? What weight does it pull? If it’s just fluff, let it fall to the bottom of the pile.
Happy baby means a productive mama.
How or when is baby happiest? For us, she was happiest and most independent in the early hours (anytime between 5 am - 10 am). Anytime after that she was generally in between sleeps or only happy when she was being worn. So I organized my day around that. I could schedule quick calls, write blog posts or do any tasks that required strategic thinking in the early hours, but in the afternoon I needed to make sure I had help or I only scheduled tasks that didn’t mind the occasional cry or baby interruption.
Side note: Consider getting a standing desk. This is high on my wishlist right now, because girlfriend loves to stand. If I can squeeze in an extra hour of work just from wearing her standing, I’ll take it.
It’s okay if you work late. And it’s okay if you don’t.
One thing I had to really retrain myself on was the idea of working late. I had been building up this business over the last 1.5 years, and had been very proud of the fact that I hardly ever worked past 5 and never worked on the weekends. So in the first couple of weeks when I was sitting there wide awake at 10 or 11 PM, I adamantly refused to do any work out of principle — and weekends? Forget it. But I quickly realized that my days weren’t following a normal time schedule anyways, so it didn’t make that much sense to push so hard against working late. Any given time I couldn’t tell you what time it was or what day of the week it was (having a newborn is a lot like visiting Vegas it turns out), so why couldn’t I make up my own rules?
Here’s the catch though. There were plenty of times (there still are) when it is 11 PM and I’ve only worked maybe an hour all day and I should do something. But I just don’t want to. My brain is fried. Or I just want to hold her. Or I just want to binge on House Hunters. That’s okay too.
Have a circle of babes who get it.
I think this could be, hands down, the biggest support when it comes to getting work done. Find your people. And those people have to be parents. Try to have those people in the same boat as you business-wise also. Because, trust me, when it comes to complaining about the things you’re about to complain about, you want it to be in a room of people who support you. You’ll hear a whole bunch of “heck yes” and “girl, me too” and you’ll breath a little easier. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that you’re the only one feeling overwhelmed or like you can’t manage it at all. The comradery alone will keep you motivated.
I’d love to end this with disclaimer 2.0, but I think you get it. Every experience is different. Your babe might be a holy terror or a sweet baby angel. You truly never know. Your partner may step in like a pro and help out or they might need a full training session. It could go either way.
Give yourself some grace, but know that you can absolutely still kick ass in business. It may just look a little different.