For the first seven months of my daughter's life, the only way she would sleep was if I held her in my arms. Maybe I was experiencing some crazy postpartum psychosis, because when she turned three months I decided to take my coaching business online. I literally worked with my baby in one arm and my laptop in the other. A decision and journey I'm so thankful I started on.
Do you struggle to find the time to get things done for your business? I definitely understand.
I am often asked if I actually get any work done with my now 11 month old daughter at home. The answer is yes. As a woman who struggled with fertility issues for six years, the birth of my daughter was by far one of the most rewarding and cherished accomplishments of my life. That being said, my business and my life as an entrepreneur is embedded in my DNA. As much as I wanted to be at home with my daughter, I also craved to be an individual. Every woman should honor that right. If you feel guilty when you are spending time on your business, you're not alone. I know the guilt I felt when I first started to acknowledge those feelings. The feelings of wanting to be more and wanting to be me. Yet of course wanting to be present and spend time with perfect little girl and be a mom.
Leyna Butcher, Photos by Leyna
So how did I manage to build an online business when my daughter was just three months old? Very carefully. I want to tell you it was pretty. That I had a major plan. But I didn't. Reflux and colic had no respect for my business needs. My daughter cried a lot for the first six months. If I attempted to put her down, she'd scream and there was no way I could handle those ear-piercing screams. It was tough and not the way I ultimately pictured things in my mind but I was able to grow my brand despite the challenges.
Here are the five key things I did to grow my business in eight months with a baby at home:
Most of my business work gets done during naps and after she's gone to bed. I schedule everything I do in 20- to 30-minute chunks because let's face it, a baby under one doesn't guarantee you an hour of uninterrupted time. I use chunking and the Pomodoro technique to get things done.
2. FULL DISCLOSURE
During my discovery call or intake process, I let all prospective clients know before signing on with me that I work from home with my daughter. They can choose not to work with me but I have yet to have a client refuse because of this. Actually, most of my clients welcome seeing my little one's face during our live video chats. I do try to manage calls around my baby's naps but sometimes that's not possible.
3. YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY
This is the part that is crucial. You can not measure your mile based on other people's standards and accomplishments. Your day is subject to change at any moment. Your baby may not feel well. Things can go awry. Remember that you are running a marathon not a race and that your constraints aren't the same as someone else who is running a business sans kids. Celebrate all the wins, no matter how small.
I truly can't do it all. There is just not enough of me to go around. To help with maintaining order at home and sanity for this mama, I outsource a few things. Housekeeping makes me no money and I have no emotional ties to cleaning my shower, so I've outsourced that. My business admin work is done by a virtual assistant so that I can do the work that truly only I can do. This step alone has helped me significantly so that I am focusing on doing high-level work and making money. Can't outsource? Find a friend that is willing to keep your little ones for an hour or two so you can get some work done.
5. SLEEP TRAIN
I should have made this number one. That's how crucial this step was in my life. After six months of no sleep and my fear of rolling over my baby at night, I let my baby "cry it out." I bought the Sleep Lady Kim West's book, Good Night, Sleep Tight and used it as a guide to help me set up a plan. It was painful for me and I cried right along with her for three nights. Thank God for a supportive husband who helped me by being on board with the process and loving me through it. So after three nights, she didn't cry. My baby became a happier baby. I finally got to sleep at night. The sun seemed to shine brighter. It was truly life changing.
I won't lie and say it was easy. I went into a bit of a depression over sleep training because of the unsolicited advice and comments that I received in a mommy group. One comment suggested my daughter would become a sociopath due to me letting her cry it out. I don't know why some mothers feel inspired to bully other moms who are doing what clearly works for their life and family. My mother let me cry it out and most babies in my family where sleep trained. I can't find a sociopath in my midst just yet. But I'm still searching.
When I got the night time sleep going well, I implemented the same strategy for day-time naps. It took a bit longer but once we got it down, it revolutionized my life. I had more time to get things done in my business, eat, poop and breathe, finally. My business, my marriage and my baby's demeanor all benefited from this one step. Not everything works for every baby. But if you aren't able to get your baby to sleep, I can only say try it. It's hard, but if you commit and your partner commits, it's worth it.
Time is a precious commodity and having systems in place to protect the time you have will help you grow your brand.