It's a new year and there is a better way of doing things. It's called setting boundaries. You (reading the article) probably haven't done that in a while. So this article is for you! In the article, I am sharing the biggest secret I kept in my business for three years. Keep reading...
Here's the secret. I have two children (at the time I started my business I had a 3 year old toddler and a 6 year old). Yes!
Many people didn't know that because for a long time I don't advertise my children online. Most of my clients found out I had a child when my daughter started interrupting my Instagram lives and phone conversations (usually while I was on a consultation or follow up call with a client).
My baby girl would ask for food or the remote even if she had just eaten and the remote was sitting right beside her on the couch. That's how children do you! I laugh now, but it's true.
The first time Joie did interrupt my conversation I was on a call with a busy mom who was more than understanding. She was patient with me when I had to put her on hold to handle my child.
This post is not my typical blog post but it's been such a crucial part of my productivity (and lack of productivity) that I finally decided to touch on it.
Why did I keep my kids a secret?
For those of you who don't know, I have a daughter named Joie. She is 8 now but at the time she was in VPK and going to school 3 out of the 5 days of the week. Tuesday and Thursday she was home with me so I designated those days our "Mommy & Me Day". On the days she didn't go to school, we spend time at the park, library and home just relaxing or having fun.
I call her "My Little Assistant"
Let it be known that my husband and I have two children who will keeps us going like the energizer bunny all year. Our youngest somehow finds a way to continually sleep so close to me that I often feel like we are one combined sleeping entity.
Like most obsessed toddler parents, I'm obsessed with my Joie, I love her fiercely, and spoil her in an attempt to somehow make up for all the other babies out there that don't get all the love :(
What "they" say is true. Once Joie turned three, she didn't calmed down. She started listening to instructions more and isn't quite as rebellious, but she is very independent and likes to run the show. Although she has her "Joieful" moments.
One of the biggest struggles I had as a toddler Mom is that Joie was NEEDY, clingy, and always down for snuggles. She hated naps - which turned her into my worst enemy when it came to managing my workflow and making sure I could get work done on schedule.
One of the reasons I kept my kids a secret is that I didn't consider them a part of my brand. I'll touch on that a little more in a different post. Sharing these moments I had with Joie was not part of what my business culture looked. Having the work-life-balance at the time didn't factor in my kids. It's sad but not having my kids at the forefront of my brand is what I thought was best for my business at the time.
Three years in to my business I realized the work-life-balance was built off of children by Moms who wanted and needed to be able to spend as much time at home with their newborn, todders and growing kids as they would like without feeling they had to get back to work and neglect their family needs.
Now, I thought I'd share some of the (probably obvious) and also simple tips that have helped me set better boundaries with myself (and my children) and allowed me to get more done without falling into yet another mid-afternoon nap.
1) Get them good and tired
One thing I haven't always been consistent with Joie (or myself) since starting my business is getting in a good chunk of movement first thing in the morning.
We send her to bed at 8:30pm and she mysteriously gets out of bed and ends up in our bed. When morning comes, she doesn't want to roll out of bed.
I always feel so bad when I have to wake her to go drop my oldest off to school.
Moving at a slow pace always boosts my productivity but if you've ever worked from home (for yourself or someone else) you know just how tempting it can be to roll out of bed, grab some tea/coffee, and pray that no one wants to see you on video for the rest of the day because you don't plan on showering.
Getting up on time (and consistently), getting out the door for a sixty minute car ride, gets the blood flowing and the brain working, and also gets Joie moving and grooving.
We take a half an hour walk in the morning at the local park. For the both of us, that time in the morning together pays off for the rest of the day.
We come home and I make her breakfast, she sits at the table and we eat together, and then we watch TV (her favorite show for half an hour). Once she is into the show, I can start to work on business stuff.
Because we've spent almost 2 hours together first thing in the morning she is already tired of me and gives me the space I need to get some work done. It's just her, Barbie or Ladybug Marionette!
2) Be firm and set personal boundaries
This is pretty obvious but it's also been a reality check since giving birth to Joie. I learned a thing or two like the fact that I'm a helicopter toddler mom. Babies by nature are pretty needy, Joie wants to be next to me or on top of me at all times, but mama's also gotta get some work done!
Being firm with her, when she needs to take a nap or settle down while I am on a phone call, and that she can't tug at me constantly when I'm at my desk is something I straight up wasn't consistent with the first year or two of her existence.
Sounds silly, right? Something I needed to learn first hand I guess.
3) Create a routine and stick to it like Gorilla glue
One thing I've learned about my son is that he thrives on routine. The boy has got some amazing kind of internal clock. I know this because if it's even a minute past 8:00 a.m. he starts huffing and puffing and whining because he wants to eat breakfast and go to school.
My daughter on the other hand, knows the drill but at times you have to reinforce the way things are done. She’s gotten used to doing things pretty much consistently but she doesn’t like it. Sticking to routines for her has also helped me stick to better routines for myself.
We’re consistent with getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time (this is NOT always perfect), and eating meals at the same hour each day. Some days I’m flexible, so I’ll squeeze in going to the park and library at the same time, having lunch at the same and letting mommy do at least one hour of work on the computer while she plays on the iPad at the same time.
Incorporating educational games she can play with on her iPad has been a lifesaver for me. I’m not worried about what she is not supposed to be watching or doing. A consistent, yet flexible schedule has been the glue that holds my work-life together most days.
4) It's important to slow down and take time to unplug
I've heard many times before that children will slow you down. It’s so true. On our trips to the park Joie reminds me to stop and smell the flowers, breathe in the fresh air, get off my phone, and to take in the beauty of the great outdoors. I feel very guilty when I see other parents not on their phone (and I am). They are usually swinging their child on a swing, reading a book or playing some made up game.
Whereas, I’m checking an email or using the time to catch up on client work. I make it a point to put my phone down more often which has helped me be more productive by reducing my stress levels and creating a balance to my days.
Do you have a toddler that needs your constant attention? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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