I really enjoy doing these Q&A’s and thought it would be a good chance for you to find out more about life as a stay at home working mum.
How did you become a working stay at home mum?
After I had Arlo, I started my blog and Instagram all about life as a first time mum. Very quickly it turned into a hobby and then as I started to grow I began working with brands on both my blog and Instagram. I think once I started to see that doing this from home could potentially turn into my job, I began focusing on it more. With no job to go back to after maternity leave, I guess there wasn’t that pressure of, right let’s get Arlo into nursery, I’m going back to my job on this date…. So I guess it happened naturally.
While I was spending lots of my time blogging and documenting life as a new mum on Instagram, I started to research freelancing from home. I’m a journalist, that’s what I graduated in at university while I was pregnant, so I started looking into freelance writing. I saw that it was actually a thing and began to build my portfolio from scratch. A lot of my freelance work crosses over into my own blog and Instagram all about motherhood, family and lifestyle.
Is it affordable?
So when I came off maternity leave, I did the usual “weigh up my options” that most of us mums probably do. I didn’t have a job to go back to after my maternity leave finished as we moved away but the plan was to always look for work close to our new home.
But as I started to look into nurseries and realised just how much they cost, I took it upon myself to start freelancing from home.
So the answer is yes, a year later, it has worked out ok for me. The life of a freelancer can be very up and down, some months are better than others and you definitely get out what you put in… But that, along with my blog and Instagram, it is proving to be affordable for us.
I think when you have kids, you have to make sacrifices. For lots of families, there isn’t as much money as there once was. I could be out working and earning a good salary but a lot of the money I’d earn, I probably wouldn’t see because a lot of it would be going on nursery. We don’t have a support system close by as I’ve mentioned before, so he’d literally be in nursery all week if I was to go out to work full-time.
How do you keep motivated and not distracted?
Routine is key. But let’s be honest, I’m a mum to a toddler, things happen, I’m not always going to stick to it. I used to get stressed out about not sticking to my routine, but that never used to help anything. The moment I started being more accepting of the distractions, and the bad days, was the moment I became more productive. Working from home, specifically freelancing, is all about time management. There are always going to be distractions, especially as a mum to a toddler, but if I don’t get as much done as I would’ve liked to during his nap time, it will just have to be something I get done during the night. I’d say my motivation comes from how much I enjoy what I do. I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t love it. Working from home is all about motivating yourself. There are no office hours, there isn’t a big boss to report to, so the motivation has to stem from yourself.
But that’s also not to say that there aren’t days where I’m stuck in a rut, or have hit a brick wall, and have 0 motivation. But accepting that there will be days like this has taught me not to be so hard on myself. I guess that’s what gets me me through those spells because we all have ‘em!
How do you manage to balance the time between Arlo and work?
Balancing can be tough. I’m not even sure if I’ll ever strike the “the perfect balance” if that even exists? So, because a lot of what I do now crosses over into my blog and my Instagram which is mostly all about me and Arlo – the photos, the blogs when I collaborate with brands, means that some of my work, Arlo is actually involved in. I think that’s another reason I decided to work from home. As I started to work with more brands, some of my work literally revolves around being a mum and our every day life. Of course I do need time to create the content but not as much as I would for my freelance work for other brands. My freelance writing is where I need more time and minimal distractions so I can’t actually get much of that done unless Arlo is napping or asleep for the night or on weekends when his dad isn’t at work.
But if I’ve had a day where he’s been ok to play independently for a long while (very rare) and I’ve managed to get lots done, the next day I will always make sure we go out and do something fun even if it’s just a trip to the park so he is running around.
Are you on the phone much? If so how do you manage with a noisy baby in the background?
A lot of my work is done via email and on the laptop. But there are occasions where I do need to speak on the phone and if Arlo is awake I’ll just be honest and say that I am at home with my toddler apologies in advance and we always end up having a laugh about it. Again given the nature of my work, they do expect it usually as I am a stay at home mum.
If my job was more corporate and I was working for a company I guess it would be different and I’d need to sort some kind of childcare during my working hours.
How do you do differentiate between working and when it’s time to relax?
On the days I’ve got lots done during the daytime then my wind-down time starts when I’ve put Arlo to bed. I’ll literally come into the front room have a tea (or a wine) and just chill. Spend time with his dad, catch up with a series. This is of course after we’ve tidied everything up from dinner and his toys from the day. But there are some days where I won’t relax after he’s gone to bed and that’ll be my working time. That’s the thing about working from home, relaxing and working crosses over all the time, there seems to be never set times for relax and work… just depends on how Arlo has been! Maybe this wouldn’t be the case for someone who is without kids but working from home with a child does bring a little less order and routine.
Do you have a separate working space or work where Arlo plays?
We live in an apartment and it’s open plan. I set up my work area on our dining table and if he is awake yes he will be playing in the front room next to me. Usually he’s at my legs wanting to sit on my lap etc which is ok for the first 10 seconds until he starts closing my laptop lid, so then we get down and play.
How do you stay focused working from home?
If Arlo is napping I’ll have no music and the television off. I’ll set my dinning table up into my work space, have a hot drink and just go for it. I’m pretty strict with myself. But then if it’s work that I can do while he’s awake that involves me and him both, I am quite good at thinking of ideas and planning content while he’s with me. It’s like one side of my brain is doing that and the other is thinking about what he’s going to have for dinner. But staying focused can be hard if Arlo’s poorly for example. Like recently he’s been unwell and it does throw you off and work takes a backseat. Staying focused when you’ve got a lot of other things on your mind can also be hard because essentially you don’t have that commute into work and that physical zone to switch off and be an employee for the day.
Do you find your work mind invades your home mind?
Yes. 100%. One minute I am thinking about what article I am going to be writing for a client the next I’m like shit, I need to get the mince out the freezer. It’s like that every day. It’s a juggle.
How do you do it? Super mum!
Finishing with this one just because it made me smile. Just because we all sometimes need that little reminder that we are doing our best!
For me this is the norm now, some days are tough, some days I’ve considered giving up, some days I don’t get anything done. But then there are days where I get loads done, I’m really productive and feel like actually I have my shit together. If I worked from home but was reporting to somebody else I guess I wouldn’t really be able to afford to have those kind of “don’t get anything done days” but then I think my situation would be completely different. I couldn’t have Arlo here with me all day for a start, he’s a toddler running around, the nature of my work is flexible and like I say a lot can be done in the night or weekends.
But thank you! We are all super mums!