Struggling with Mom Guilt During the Summer

Happy Friday, loves!

Summer is officially here (last week, I think?), but it doesn’t feel any different to those of us in the Sunshine State. It’s hot. It’s humid. The heat is downright oppressive. It’s my least favorite time of the year (sweating isn’t my thing unless I’m working out) and my mom guilt is strong during the summer months.

I know I’m not the only one. I’ve been running my business from home for almost 11 years now. Back then, it just wasn’t that common. When I told people I owned my own business, they wanted to know where they could find my office. When I told people I work from home or wherever I happen to be in the moment (Starbucks? A hotel somewhere?), no one really knew what to say.

Most people always assume I do some sort of network marketing or direct sales job because those are big, and they were the only real ‘at-home’ careers for many people back in the day…I’m talking 2008-ish.

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I don’t network market (not that there’s anything wrong with it; I just don’t). I founded a content creation company, and I write and edit web content for my clients. I’m a writer, but more than a writer. I blog, I create the content on the websites you visit every day. Sometimes, even I’m surprised to log on to a website to read some information about a company or a situation, and I realize that I wrote the piece.

I’ve written and published more than 50,000 articles in the long history of my writing career. I’ve added editing to my platform, as well. The entire reason I began this business was 1 – to do something I love, and 2 – to make sure that while doing what I love, I get to create my own schedule and I get to be fully present and with my kids.

But…no situation is perfect. And that’s where the mom guilt comes into play. With that said, I’m delving a little deeper into something I think a lot of moms and dads deal with on a regular basis that they might not know how to describe.

What is mom guilt?

Or dad guilt. Or whatever guilt. I’m sure there are a half-dozen ways to describe it, but I’ll tell you what it feels like in my life. It’s the feeling when you have kids you want to spend quality time with, but you have a business you love almost as much as your kids, and you want to focus on that, too.

I’m a workaholic. I’d spend all day, every day at my desk in my home office if I could. I’d write all day long. I’d edit all day long. I’d take on dozens of additional clients and just work all the time. I love what I do. But, I love my kids more; and they need me.

The school year is easy for me. They’re in school, so I just have to take a quick break to drive them there and pick them up, occasionally volunteer at some event, and my husband and I share the duties taking them to and from their extracurricular activities. Weekends are date nights and family time and travel time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have a schedule. I wake up at 5, work until I take them to school at 9, work out, home, work until it’s time to pick them up. I don’t like to work after pick-up. That’s when I like to help them unpack their lunchboxes, their backpacks, and help with homework. That’s when we spend some quality time together talking about our days and doing what we need to do.

I have a schedule.

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Summer kills my schedule.

Legitimately kills it dead and then backs right over it a few more times. There is no real schedule this time of year, and that is something I struggle with. I’m a planner. I’m a routine-oriented person. I like things done the same every single day with very little deviation. That deviation must be my idea, and it must be something I have thought-out and planned like it’s my job.

You might not consider me the most spontaneous person.

Summer is hard. The first week was a trip to D.C. this year with Addison’s safety patrol group. I worked my ass off for weeks before we left to pre-write and schedule more than 50 articles for that week (on top of the articles due the weeks leading up to the trip) so that I could take 6 days off of my business.

The second week was cheer camp week, which meant leaving the house at 7:20 am to drop the girls off and then again at 11:30 to pick the kids up. No flow there. Then it was a normal week, and we tried to get on a schedule.  The problem is that I want the kids to have fun, but I want and need to work.

Finding balance

It’s so easy sometimes, and it’s so hard other times. Summer is hard; for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that I want to be at my desk. I don’t like to leave things undone, but the kids are here and I want to spend time with them. I’m trying to relax about leaving my desk, but it’s difficult. I will stop to play a game of cards, take a golf cart ride, run out for ice cream, whatever.

But, taking the kids to see a movie or go somewhere else requires pre-planning for me. If it takes longer than an hour, it’s not something I’ll do last-minute. I need something like 48 hours of notice. That way, I can work ahead a little bit so I wake up the morning of the activity without feeling as if I’m going to be behind, working all night, or I can’t really enjoy myself. I’m Type-A all day long, y’all. I know I can come home and do the work later, but I don’t like to. I like to get it done in the morning and have my afternoons and evenings free and clear.

I am also a firm believer in letting my kids have downtime. They don’t get enough of it with our schedules, but they’re serious homebodies (just like Craig and I, even though I’m sure you find that hard to believe as often as we are out, busy, and traveling). They like to be home more than anything else, and they all get cranky when they don’t get some downtime. I also don’t believe in entertaining them nonstop.

I’m just not that mom, y’all. Kudos to those who are, but I’m not; and I really think that my kids are better for it. They have SUCH big imaginations. They play so well together, and we rarely hear them complain of boredom. They’re more likely to complain when we tell them we are going somewhere fun than they are to complain when we have nothing scheduled.

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For example, yesterday was a down day. We didn’t have anything scheduled until evening when Charlotte had her tumble class. The kids slept in, they got up, and they all went upstairs to play with Charlotte’s kitchen and set up and entire pizza restaurant. They spent 3 hours doing that until I took the twins with me to the YMCA to play in the Kid Zone while I worked out. The big girls didn’t want to go. They wanted to read their new books.

When I got home, they sat down together and played Candy Land. Then they went upstairs and built a killer fort. After that, they went outside for a bit when the sun wasn’t so brutal. They never once complained of being bored. They use their imaginations. They read. They played together. They have such a diverse way of living their lives, and they are happy doing almost anything – and nothing.

I struggle with too much

What does that mean? Well, I struggle when we have too many weekday plans. I’m fine being busy all weekend as long as we are relaxing on Sundays, but I struggle with too many things during the week. For one, I’m working and so is my husband. The fact that neither of us gets up in the morning and leaves the house to go to an office doesn’t make our jobs any less of a job. Working from home or for yourself still doesn’t make you free all the time. Sure, I create my own schedule, but I like my schedule, and I don’t want to interrupt it. It’s the way it is because that’s what works best for us, and that’s what I like.

This week was a busy one, and we have plans next week during the week. I’m struggling with that. Not because I don’t want to have fun with the kids, but because even they’re starting to complain about it. Monday we went bowling and then to Craig’s softball game. Tuesday the twins went to grandma’s and the big girls and I had a shopping, lunch, doctor day. Wednesday and Thursday were down days, but busy evenings, and Friday is a movie day. Tuesday is another day we will be out all day long having fun with our friends, and Wednesday night is one of our favorite events of the year with our best friends.

And I feel overwhelmed thinking of all the time I’ve missed and will miss in my office. Addison, our oldest, didn’t want to go with me to the Y today or yesterday because she wanted to “stay home and rest” because she hasn’t had time this week.

I’ve spent so much time away from my desk during the week this week, and that means I’ve been up earlier in the mornings working, and later at night work. And that makes me tired, because I’m not getting enough sleep trying to do it all.

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My mom guilt is strong

I struggle with the guilt I feel when I’m in my office, but I try to remind myself that the kids don’t mind. They like that time to spend on their own. They don’t complain. They don’t feel as if their lives are boring because we aren’t at a movie or the park or the beach or whatever 7 days a week. They like being home as much as I do, but the mom guilt is strong.

But, if I’m being honest, my mom guilt isn’t about our kids and their activities and lives. They lead good lives. No, they lead amazing lives. There’s nothing they’re missing out on. They have more airline miles each than most adults do. They get to travel often. They get to do things, go places, and have experiences that most people never get in their lives. They have built-in best friends. They have a group of friends they’ve known since birth, and they are loved, fortunate, and happy kids.

My guilt is that I’d rather be in my office than at the movies. That sounds terrible, but it’s true. I’d rather be at my desk, killing it, than I would doing things during the week. Honestly, I just don’t find as much enjoyment in taking the kids to do things when my husband isn’t with me. Our kids just aren’t accustomed to that. When we go to movies, to parties, to events, hotels, travel, etc., Craig is with us. But, summertime sometimes means going with other people. We love our other people, so much, but we all end up at home at the end of the day wishing that he was with us, because it’s just a little bit less fun without him. We hate leaving him out and making memories without him.

Work/life balance

Ninety percent of the time, I feel like I’m killing it with the work-life balance situation. Summer is the 10 percent I feel like I’m failing every single day. I’m not no good at being off our regularly scheduled programing. I don’t enjoy the constant activities. The kids are cranky when we have too much going on. I don’t like rearranging my own work schedule for other things.

Basically, what it comes down to is that I’m a spoiled rotten asshole. I like my schedule and routine, and I don’t like it being interrupted. But, I think I’m getting better at it. I’m saying yes to more things (Bowling and a movie date with friends in ONE week?!) and I’m having fun with my friends and my kids in the process. I’m tired, and I don’t love that, but I’m learning to be a little more spontaneous.

But…I will say that I’m still good about saying no when I’m already a little overscheduled and overwhelmed by it – though I don’t feel good turning people I love down. Balance is important to me, but I struggle with that – hard – this time of year.

A note to everyone

If you ask me to do something, and I cannot do it or say no, thank you, please don’t take offense. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me. I run a business, and the fact that it’s from home doesn’t mean it’s any less a business than one that has office hours.

Sometimes, I just don’t have the time. For example, I had to say no to plans on Monday with someone I love dearly because we already have plans Tuesday (with her and her kids, so it wasn’t a heartbreaking no) and it’s a holiday week, and I know I need Monday to stay on track with my deadlines and my clients.

I also know that most of our evenings are already spoken for, and I draw a HARD line at putting my own health and mental health and sleep at risk by over-committing. If I say no to something, it’s not because I don’t want to join you (well, I mean, it might be, but it’s usually not). It’s because I really have no time. If I say yes to something I don’t have time for, it means I have to say no to something else. I can’t say no to work obligations, and I can’t say no to spending time with my family.

If you need me, I need at least 48 hours of notice, but most of the time – I need a solid week or two of notice. Our weeks get crazy busy, and I just don’t have much free time. Someone wise once said something beautiful.

I can do anything, but I cannot do everything.

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9 Ways to Combat Exhaustion When Your Calendar is Full

Happy Tuesday, loves!

I’m exhausted, and I’m guessing all my fellow moms are, too. It’s May. If you have school-age children, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Exhaustion is a way of life around here during the month of May, and it’s because there are so many end-of-school year events, parties, things, stuff, places, adventures, etc.

I’m not mathematically inclined, but there are two of us and four of them, and that’s not enough of us to go around. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and I think it shows. Cheer tryouts for two. VPK graduation, teacher appreciation luncheons to cater (I had to miss one school TA lunch this year because of field day) field day, 5th grade graduation, safety patrol field trip, 5th grade field trip, AVID interviews, tumble classes, our wedding anniversary, hair appointments, yoga classes, Mother’s Day, mom’s day lunch with the twins’ class, travel, birthdays, birthday parties, retirement parties, boat days, pool parties; you name it, we have it on the schedule this month.

And, let’s be honest, that’s all going on without considering my work schedule. I have clients who contract me to write so many words a day for them, and I have to meet those word counts every day. I write a lot of words for numerous clients on a daily basis, and I suffer from a little bit of anxiety this time of year trying to get it all done.

Fortunately, I’ve been a business owner and a mom a long time, and I’ve learned a few things about staying sane, easing the exhaustion, and getting it all done. I’m still tired, but I’m less frustrated, and my attitude isn’t as bad as it could be.

Go to Bed Early

It sounds so simple, right? But most people just don’t do it. I make it a point to go to bed no later than 9 pm each night. Now, most of the time that means falling asleep on my husband on the couch while we watch a movie, but that’s all right. He wakes me up, and we go to bed by 10:30 or so. It helps since I get up early to work before the kids are up and before the morning begins. If I go to bed any later, I feel it the following day.

Say No

Not everything you do requires a yes. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule or bring you joy, just say no. There are plenty of things that are going on this month that I could go to, but I simply say no because they don’t interest me, fit the schedule, or rank high enough on my priority list.

Prioritize

What’s most important to you? I have to make this choice a lot this time of year, but I promise it’s a lot easier than you imagine. I recently had a last-minute situation come up with one of our kids, and I had to cancel something I had two choices. Choose one day and cancel an unnecessary obligation on the calendar, or choose the other day and cancel something that was fun for the whole family. Obviously, I kept the fun and cancelled the unnecessary obligation. Our family needs the fun stuff more this time of year than ever considering all the scheduled things we have to do. That kind of prioritizing makes life more enjoyable.

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Make Time for Fun

This goes back to prioritizing, but making time for fun is something we have to do. This month is busy, but it’s been full of fun. From taking a weekend away with just my husband to celebrate our anniversary to our regularly scheduled Wednesday night dinners with our best friends to last-minute date nights to weekend pool parties to boat days on the Gulf, we make sure there is always time for fun.

This past weekend, I was the walking dead. Addison had her AVID interview Tuesday afternoon, we had our Wednesday night dinner tradition and our niece for a sleepover on Wednesday, we had Addison’s Universal Studios field trip on Thursday, I had the twins’ field day on Friday, cheer tryouts for Addy and Ava on Friday night, a birthday party for one of Addison’s friends (That’s also a mom gathering for our friends) on Saturday morning followed by lunch with our girlfriends, and cheer tryouts Saturday night.

I was tired. I wanted to go home. I hadn’t really been home in days. I was done. I wanted to spend time with my husband and my kids. I wanted to go to bed early. I wanted to rest. But then our best friends called and asked if we wanted to spend Sunday on the boat, and that’s always fun. So, we said yes even though we knew we’d be tired. And guess what? It was exactly what we needed. A day of fun in the sun, a lot of laughs, kids having the best time, and nothing but relaxation on the mind was just what we needed to break up a week full of activities before another week full of activities. Saying yes to fun is always a good idea.

Fill Your Body with Good Food

It’s so easy to want to eat poorly in May. Fast food is easier. Ordering out is easier. But, your body doesn’t want that, and you don’t need that. If I ate nothing but junk this month, I’d be sluggish, tired, and beyond exhausted. Eating well always fuels my body, and it will yours, too.

Exercise

I might not be able to find time to do everything this month, but I will always find time to work out. I need it. For my attitude, for my body, for my energy; I need to workout daily. It’s what gives me the energy I need to get things done.

Find A Routine

I’m very structured. I have to be to run the kind of business I run with the kind of tight deadlines and ever-changing daily routines. I like schedules, routines, and knowing what to expect. However, I find that I have to adjust my routine a bit this month. I say not to additional projects clients want done. I say not yet to new clients, and I prioritize what needs to be done for my regular clients. I work early in the morning, and I make sure I complete a certain number of words prior to taking the kids to school. I have a routine this time of year that I adapt to, and it works.

Silence Your Alerts

The single most pivotal way to get through this time of year without being more exhausted is to silence your alerts. Turn off the volume of your phone. Put do not disturb on after a certain time of day. Put it on during the day so you don’t get texts, calls, or social media alerts.

I do this all the time. I leave it so that only certain numbers can get through to me – though sometimes I don’t even do that knowing that they can call my husband if they really need me. If my phone is constantly going off, I can’t concentrate or get anything done. I put it in the master bedroom while I’m in my office, and I ignore it. It’s the single best way to accomplish things during the day. It’s quiet. There are no distractions. My concentration is not broken. It’s spectacular.

Get Out

A walk with a friend. A lunch date with my girlfriends. A run with my husband. Sometimes, you just have to walk away, find something fun to do, and get out of the house. It’s the best way to rejuvenate. And it helps. We also like to have fun with the kids. A golf cart ride. A long walk. Going to dinner. Playing outside. Whatever they want to do that gets us out of the house, we do it.

There’s no real way to fight the exhaustion you feel when you’re on the go so much this time of year, but you can make it easier on yourself. Eat a healthy diet, move your body, and focus on the good in your life and prioritize those things. It helps, it matters, and it’s what makes a difference in the way you live.

Are you so busy this time of year? What do you have going on, and how do you combat your exhaustion?

National Clean Off Your Desk Day: Tips For Getting and Staying Organized

Happy Monday, loves!

Super fun fact: Did y’all know today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? Well, it is; and I cannot think of a better Monday vibe. If you know me, you know I’m all about organization and cleanliness and all things OCD when it comes to being neat and clean and all that fun stuff.

Basically, this day speaks to me like no other.

I love organization. I live for cleanliness.

Isn’t that just ironic when I’m the mom of four? I’ve been instilling in my kids since day one that cleanliness is a real thing – not that Ava gets that, but she keeps her door shut and I avoid her room like the plague. Her idea of clean is too cluttered for my taste, so I just don’t go into her room. I want her to be independent and her own self, but she’s actually killing me.

Fortunately, the rest of my people are clean. And my desk is always clean. My office is always clean, to be quite honest. The kids aren’t allowed in our home office since we both work from home and we both have so many important items in our office.

It’s so important to understand the importance of an uncluttered, clean desk. Before I get to my clean desk tips, I want you to know what a clean desk can do for you.

  • Make you more motivated
  • Make you less stressed
  • Give you more time
  • Make your life easier

A clean desk means you’re not overwhelmed the moment you sit down.  You’re not spending valuable time searching for things, cleaning things out, or feeling like you cannot get organized. You’re more motivated to work at a clean desk. You’re less stressed when everything is neat and tidy.  Your life is easier because your mind is as uncluttered as your desk.  You’ll get more done, and you’ll get it done more efficiently.

How’s that for clean your desk of day motivation?

In honor of #nationalcleanoffyourdeskday I’m offering you a few tips that might help you keep things neat, clean, and as minimalistic as possible.

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Get Rid of It

You know you don’t need everything in your desk. Go through it with a trash bag on hand, and throw that junk away. Throw all of it away. What you cannot throw away, find a file or scan it or something. And that goes for everything on top of your desk, too.

Sign Up For Online Billing

If you’re looking for a simple way to keep your desk clean, try signing up for online billing. This keeps your desk clean and uncluttered because all of those bills you get each month go right to your inbox rather than your mailbox. Additionally, this is so much safer for your financial identity – keep that personal information out of your physical mailbox – and your desk cleanliness.

File It

I advocate for digital filing if you can make that a thing in your life. Scan it and create files on your computer in which you keep all your important stuff so it’s not in files around your office. Our home office is as uncluttered as you can imagine, and that’s because I keep everything digitally filed. We have our desks, we have one decorative table and lamp, and we have a sizable cabinet with a few shelves and a big cabinet. We keep as much on our computers as possible, and everything else gets filed into pretty files in the cabinet.

Make it A Habit

The best way to clean your desk is to keep it clean all the time. Put a trash can by your desk and put trash in it right away rather than shoving it in drawers. File things immediately rather than putting them in a ‘to do’ pile. You can make it a habit after a few weeks if you really dedicate your life to keeping your desk organized.

You don’t have to work from home to have a clean desk. And you don’t have to stop at your desk. Organizing your life makes it that much sweeter, and we are big advocates of a sweeter life.

Working from Home: Answering FAQs About the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio)

If you follow me on Instastories, you may have noticed I posted a story last week of me sitting in my dining room with my laptop, iPad, and notes working away after being forced out of my home office in annoyance. In fact, I know you noticed because I receive so many DMs about it. Rather than try and answer all of them individually (especially since so many of them were the same questions) I thought I’d rearrange my blog schedule and add a little work from home FAQ in here today.

I hope you’re all enjoying your last day of a long three-day weekend! Our weekend was gorgeous. Lots of quality time at home on Saturday before date night Saturday night, and we spent yesterday with the kids at Disney. They had a blast, the weather was cool and gorgeous, and it was a pretty sweet day.

Today, we’re back in our office working hard while the kids run rampant around the house like animals. Actually, they mostly play quietly together aside from the “Can I have a snack?” break they take every 30 seconds or so. I’ll cut my day short in my office this morning around 10, which gives me a solid four hours or so to work and the rest of the day to keep the kids happy. I have some errands to run, we have dinner with friends tonight, and prep for the kids to go back to school tomorrow to handle, so short day for mama.

And now that I’m completely off topic, you’re bored. It’s cool. No one thinks the mundane life of Publix runs and gym time and kid stuff is as interesting as the actual person handling it – and honestly, I’m not super entertained by it myself right now. So back to the work-from-home stuff. You have questions, I have answers.

  1. What do you do and what does your husband do?

I’ll start with me, since I’m the writer and, well, ladies first. I’m a writer. No, not a book author. I have the blog, but what I do is web content creation. I’ve been doing it almost 10 years now, and I’ve been building a client list that’s extensive over the course of that time.

I write a little of everything. There were a few years I wrote parenting articles for What to Expect. There were a few years I worked with the NFL traveling to NYC to their offices every few months to work with a panel of other creators on the Heads Up Program. However, most of my clients are either website owners looking for me to create their content.

Most of my clients are automobile dealers, insurance companies, law firms, dental offices, rehab facilities, limo companies, television spoilers, plumbing and HVAC companies, and even a few landscape design companies. They’re located all over the country. I write their landing pages, their blog posts, and anything else they contract me to write. My blog is my creative outlet, and I really enjoy my clients.

What does my husband do? That is a good question. I honestly don’t have a damn clue. His official title is Senior Systems Engineer. He works for a company based out of Tampa, and he sits quietly at his desk all day long working away doing God-knows-what and talking on the phone using language I don’t understand. I understand so very little of what he actually does I can say, “Sounds like a rough day,” and he’ll be like, “What? No, it’s been a great day. So productive,” and I’m over here thinking if his day was my day, I’d have scratched my eyes out by now. But he loves it, he’s super smart, and he’s a total geek.

He’s been doing this since 2016. Before that, he was IT for a bank for 16 years. He’s loyal. He works hard, and he’s smart. He’s also never been happier than he has been working from home, interrupting me constantly with his loud phone calls, and occasionally glaring at me when the doorbell rings again because another package has been delivered.

If you asked me what’s hard about him being home working with me, it’s that. He is unimpressed our UPS and Fed Ex guys know my name, and how many times a week they’re here. But, he doesn’t ask questions. And I’m totally off topic again.

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  1. How do you work together in the same office all day?

Most days we work really well together and there’s no problem. Occasionally, however, I find myself kicking myself out of our office (um, sometimes I like to point out that I’m self-exiling myself from MY home office that he crashed considering I’ve been working from home almost ten years and he’s been here like 2, but only when I’m really annoyed and potentially a little petty) to work elsewhere.

Sometimes it’s just because I’m a creative person, and a change of scene is good for me. I might work on the front porch, on the lanai, in bed, in the family room, the dining room, the back deck. I might even take my computer and go work out of the house if I’m really feeling distracted or in a rut. Other times I just have to get out of the office because there are a few clients my husband speaks to on the phone that must speak very loudly, because suddenly his indoor voice disappears and his conversations are loud. I can shoot him the same, “Shhh,” warning look I use on the kids, and it works just as well; sheepishly quiet for a second and then back to decibels that make my ears bleed. He can’t help it, though.

He feeds off whomever it is he’s speaking to. If he’s speaking to his dad on the weekends or at night, he develops his dad’s North Carolina accent. If he’s speaking to a client with a naturally loud and boisterous voice, he’s also loud and boisterous. And sometimes that drives me nuts, but most of the time I’m cool with it.

To get back to actually providing a useful answer to the question; we work well together. He works for someone else, I work for myself, so we don’t do the same thing. I work. He works. We are both workaholics, and we both focus hard on our work.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Don’t you get sick of one another being together all day every day?

Nope. It’s kind of hard to get sick of someone you don’t actually speak to all day long. Again, we do different things. I need to concentrate because I’m writing, and my train of thought is going at a rapid pace. He’s on the phone, he’s on the computer, on conference calls, whatever. Believe it or not, we communicate less now that our desks are in the same room only 10 feet apart than we did when he worked at the bank 45 minutes away from our home.

In those days, he’d text me throughout the day to tell me he loved me, to see how my day is going, to check in, whatever. I’d respond. We’d chat. Now we can see how one another’s day is going, we’re 10 feet apart all day long, and we don’t text throughout the day anymore. We keep strict schedules and we both love what we do, so we’re working.

“I love you, be safe,” “I love you back,” “Do you need anything from Publix?” “Can I get you another cup of coffee while I’m up?” “Oh, look, Fedex/UPS is here. Again,”

Those are kind of the only words we speak to one another throughout the day. We do try to make time to take a walk and have lunch together most days for a little fresh air and quality time, and we’re good about it most days. It’s nice, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you work the same hours?

Kind of and not really. We do, but we don’t. Again, he does not work for himself, so he technically works certain hours throughout the day from 8 to 5 where I work when my creative juices are flowing most freely. I’m exceptionally motivated and most creative in the morning. I’m a morning person, so I’m up at five working while he and the kids sleep. My husband is amazing handling the lunch packing, school-readying, and the kids in the mornings so I can work uninterrupted until it’s time to leave the house at 8 to get all four of them to school.

One of my biggest complaints as a work-from-home mom for the 8 years I did this before he started working from home was missing out on my most creative work time to get everyone fed and dressed and take to school. When he began working from home, he offered to take that over so I could have that time to work in the mornings. It’s been amazing, and he so appreciates everything I’ve ever done handling that part of the day on his own. Mornings with four kids are exhausting. More accurately, they’re a bitch.

While he works all day, I’m in and out. I handle anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 words per day, though I try not to schedule myself more than 15,000 words per day most days. I only need five to six hours a day to work to meet my deadlines, get my life in order, and answer emails, and update my checklists and calendars. So my day looks a little different.

I leave at 8:15ish to take the kids to school. Three days a week I’m home around 10 because I go to the YMCA to work out in the gym after dropping them off at their respective schools and I work the rest of the day. Two days a week I’m home by 9:10, back at my desk until 10:50 and then I leave for yoga. I’m back by 12:10, and we have lunch, I’m back to my desk by 1, and I work nonstop until it’s time to leave at 3:20 to pick the kids up. He’s at his desk all day unless we take lunch together and walk. I’m in and out.

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{Photo: Her Creative Studio}

  1. Do you really work all day or do you find yourself doing other things because I’d never get anything done if I worked from home?

Let me be clear; working from home is not for everyone. You must be disciplined. Craig works for someone else, so he has hours he needs to work – and he does not leave his desk unless he needs another cup of coffee or he is getting something to eat or we are taking lunch together. I work for myself, so my schedule is definitely flexible, but I also have a rigid schedule working around the kids and working out. We aren’t distracted.

We are surprisingly good at not allowing things to distract us. We’re in our office, so we can’t see the rest of the house to be distracted. We have no television in our office. We are tidy people, so there’s nothing that needs our attention throughout the house. We keep the laundry done every day, dishes are washed as they’re used or put in the dishwasher, the kids pick up their things before they go to school. Everything is always clean, so there’s nothing to distract us.

I don’t have to be in my office all day long, but I have contracts with my clients. I’m paid not only by word, but also by the quality of my content as well as my ability to meet all my deadlines. If I take time off during the day, I’m making it up that night. I don’t love that, so I don’t do that often. I don’t get vacation or sick days. We love to travel and do so often, but I’m working double, nights, weekends, skipping my workouts, and even cancelling other plans to get work done so we can travel, and I don’t have to take my computer with.

Running a business is a 24/7 job, but I love it. I’m disciplined like you would not believe, and so is Craig. It takes serious work ethic to get up at 5 am every morning and get into your office even when you don’t ‘have’ to. I try so hard not to work at night or on the weekends so I can spend that time with my family and keep a healthy work/life balance, but it’s almost always impossible. I love what I do, so it’s hard for me to put it down.

  1. What’s the worst thing about working from home?

Um…I want to eat all day. That’s a struggle. The biggest struggle is other people. I think it’s hard for some people to understand that our jobs are no different than theirs other than we’re doing it from home rather than from someone else’s office, so we are not free all day long. We can’t just stop what we are doing to answer the door for people and let them kill an hour because they’re between appointments and have nothing else to do, or help them with their errands, or whatever. I get it, but it’s an interruption of our workday. We both have calls, we both have deadlines, we both have things we need to have done at a certain time during the day; and we can’t just stop. It’s hard to explain that to people (and I’m sitting here waiting on a call from my mom asking me if it’s her…it is).

The other problem is days off of school. When the kids don’t have school on a day like today and they’re all home – struggle. It’s hard when it’s two kids, but it’s impossible when it’s all four. I usually have to find a creative way to get things done all day while they’re home, and it’s a problem. Love them, but omg.

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  1. Why do you get dressed every day if you don’t have to?

All right – so, yes, I do get dressed every day. Craig – nope. He’s gone from suit and tie for 16 years to basically wearing nothing but basketball shorts and tees all day long unless we’re going somewhere and he puts on real clothes. I get dressed every morning. Even on mornings I work out right after dropping the kids off, I still put on real clothes when I go pick the kids up. I just don’t feel comfortable leaving the house without dressing. I love fashion, I love to look nice, and I never leave the house without hair and makeup. I don’t love the way I feel when my hair and makeup are not done, and I find it puts me in a bad mood if I feel sloppy or lazy.

But in the interest of being transparent, I don’t leave my clothes on all day. If you see me on Instagram in the morning with a pair of five-inch Manolos on my feet, it’s because that’s what I’m wearing that day. I’m not dishonest about my OOTD posts, but I’m not in it all day. I’m literally naked about three seconds after I walk in the door until I can get to the bathroom to get my robe. I’m in my robe all day long working. Clothes on the leave the house, robe the rest of the day. It’s my jam, and I’m not ashamed of that.

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  1. Are you totally crazy in the house all the time?

No! Are you kidding me? I would literally never leave my house if I didn’t have to leave my house. I’m a total recluse. The real struggle for me is making myself leave. I get to so comfortable at home, and I never want to leave. I love our home so much, and I just want to stay home and enjoy it. But…I force myself to leave the house so we can keep a healthy balance for the kids and for ourselves.

  1. Does your marriage struggle because you work together, you live together, you spend all your time together?

Not at all! Do you know how hard it is to be unhappy when you both love what you do and when your husband is so happy? He loves his job so much, and he is so happy not missing out on all the things he missed out on before. He spent 15 years driving an hour to work, an hour home from work, not seeing the kids before he left in the morning and seeing them for less than an hour at night when he got home.

We passed one another in the night three or four nights a week because of the kids and their practice schedules, and date nights weren’t so frequent because while we loved them, Craig had so little time with the kids and it was so hard for me to expect him to spend more time away from them. He was stressed about it, I was stressed about it; that’s gone now. No commute means signing off at 5 pm and getting to go outside with the kids and ride bikes, talk the golf cart out, play in the yard, and just spend time together. It’s so much better living this life without those stresses. He’s happier, I’m happier, the kids LOVE it. It’s good.

There you have it. For us, it’s what’s good. It’s not something that will work for everyone, and that’s what makes us all so cool. We can do what works for us and live the lives we want. Working from home is a challenge, but I can’t imagine living any other way.

6 Easy Tools to Set the Tone for A Great Week Ahead

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Bottomless mimosas overlooking the bay in Tampa followed by a day of shopping til we dropped with my favorite person by my side is my idea of a gorgeous day. Any day with my husband, best friend, partner in crime, built-in comedian is a gorgeous day – only made more gorgeous by the fact our four sweet little ones were with Nana for the day and we got to enjoy an entire day by ourselves doing grownup things (like using the restroom alone). That’s how we spent our day last Sunday. It was nice.

Monday, on the other hand, was not so nice.

It was a chaotic morning.

I don’t like chaotic mornings.

I like order and efficiency, and I like not being exhausted.

Monday sets the tone for my week, and that’s why I work hard on Sundays to make sure Mondays are good days. With four kids, a business to run, a husband to love, a house to care for, a busy travel schedule, and a busy social life, I don’t get a lot of down time, but I’ve found I really crave downtime more than anything else. I need Sundays “off” or the rest of my week is a mess.

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Ah, Mondays. So many people view them as negative, but I don’t hate them. I’ve said it before, but I really do believe Monday is a lovely day (can you tell I like schedule and routine?) and it’s a personal choice to make it that. There are so many articles on the internet telling us how to make Mondays better days, to conquer the day, to wake up, kick ass, take names, and repeat.

I like it.

But I’m a bigger believer that sometimes it’s taking the time to make the entire week count that works in our favor. Motivation Monday is here, y’all – and I’m sharing just a few of my favorite ways to begin my week on a killer note (read: well-rested, happy, and excited).

Make Sunday Count

I’m basically always tired, because I have four kids and I spend 16 hours a day doing, doing, doing, doing, doing, and the other eight sleeping. I don’t sit down except when I’m at my desk in my office – and we all know that doesn’t count. There is no rest for the weary in this house, my friends. That’s why we made the decision to make Sundays count. We were getting sick all the time, and we knew it was because we were overdoing it. We decided it was imperative to take one day to plan nothing and rest. Sundays are for rest.

  • Sleep in
  • Go to church
  • Relax
  • Rest
  • Play

Sunday counts because it’s our family day. We do was we want to do, how we want to do it, and we allow the day to be nothing but ours. It means the kids are in bed early, we have time to prep for Monday, and we are in bed early. When we do have plans on a Sunday, Monday sucks. When Sunday feels rushed and busy and it’s not relaxing, Monday is a beast.

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Get Ready for the Week

I like to spend 15 – 20 minutes in my office on a Sunday evening while the kids are winding down and cleaning their rooms to prep my calendar for the week. I take note of what’s in there, make my list of things to do Monday morning, and I go ahead and organize and prep a few things to help me get started faster and more efficiently in the morning.

We also like to make sure we wake up on a Monday morning with no laundry, no dirty dishes, no mess. Okay, okay, okay; we wake up every morning like that because I’m an anal-retentive neat freak who cannot handle messiness or disarray. BUT…believe me when I say spending 15 minutes each night tag-teaming the dishes, floors, countertops, and laundry is worth every second.

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Invest In Quality Tools  

Whatever you do, do it with items that help you stay focused and motivated. For me, it’s my Lilly Pulitzer agenda that helps me stay motivated. It’s also my Erin Condren notebook for making short-term to-do lists. I also love my dry-erase wall calendar for keeping the family schedule (color coded, of course) next to my desk so I can keep track of all the schedules at my desk.

When you have the right tools, work is easier, and simpler to manage. We all want to be more effective, and the right tools make all the difference.

Get Up With the Alarm

I won’t lie – I do sometimes let the 5 alarm go and sleep until the 5:30 alarm as the weeks wears on. But, I never let the alarm go off on a Monday morning with a snooze. I find that Monday is easier when I get up right away and spend no time lounging. I feel more productive, more energized, and just plain better about the day.

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Get Dressed

Wanna know a secret? I am happier without pants – and I spend most of the day in my favorite little red and black robe. I get dressed to take my kids to school, but I strip it down and get back into my robe the second I get home. Rest assured that every Instagram post, every blog post, every moment of my day I’m not out of my house, I’m in a cute little robe.

But – Monday mornings are for getting dressed. I choose a cute dress and jewelry, get myself together, and pretend I’m a responsible adult who has a plan for the day. It helps get me more motivated. When I feel good about how I look, I am in a much better mood. When I’m in a good mood, it’s easy for me to motivate myself.

Read Something Motivational

I cannot tell you how easy it is to start the day on a Monday morning with good intentions and a great tone when you start with something motivational. When I get out of the shower and pour my first cup of coffee, I immediately sit down on the couch in the dark quiet of my house and ready my First 5 app.

I peruse social media for a few moments, and then I head to Pinterest and read motivational quotes and articles. I love Instagram to read the inspiring blog posts, the great marketing and business tips, and the wonderful posts from my blogger friends and the amazing communities I’ve become a part of over the past few years.

There’s no right or wrong way to start your day to make Monday a good one, but it does help to remember you’re not just starting your Monday off on the right foot. You’re setting the tone for the entire week.

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What do you do to prep for Monday so you can have a good week? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

To-Do List Disaster: Handling Life When the To-Do List is Too Long for Comfort

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I love a checklist of things to do. I crush the art of crossing things out and checking them off. I feel a little like superwoman every time I do it. In all honesty, if I’m feeling unmotivated, behind, or even as if my list is too short on any given day, I’ll start throwing extras on there just so I can check them off and feel a little bit more like a badass.

  • Brush my teeth – CHECK
  • Put on pants – CHECK
  • Kiss my husband good morning – CHECK
  • Drive the kids to school – DONE

I have issues, I know.

My to-list is my favorite thing on my desk. It keeps me organized. It keeps me sane. It allows me to sort out the millions of things going on in my brain that my body cannot seem to keep up with otherwise. I need my check list, my agenda, my calendars, and my schedule. The make me happy. Probably happier than things like this should make me, but there’s no shame in my game, friends.

My favorite part of my day comes at 3 pm when I shut down for the day (most days). I turn off my computer and iPad, I close up shop in my home office, and I take out my agenda, calendar, and to-do list. I create my plan for the following day so when I get started at 5 am, my A-game is strong.

Now that I see this in writing, I know I have issues; and I’m probably a bit of a nerd. Oh, well.

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Sometimes, though, my to-do list and calendar get a little bit too crazy. May is one of those months. It’s been crazy. Four weekends in a row out of town living in hotels meant three weekends of packing and unpacking and being off-schedule. The last week of school means too many activities to handle, another trip out-of-state and one weekend at home this month has made me feel a little overwhelmed. My client list is longer than ever – and it’s long in general – and my deadlines are tighter than ever.

The other day I sat down on the floor in my master bedroom and cried my eyes out. Not because I’m upset or unhappy, but because I’m overwhelmed. It’s a good overwhelmed. Health, well, and happiness are abundant in my house, so I’m not complaining. But sometimes I do this thing where I overextend myself and a good cry is what I need.

I felt good when I got it all out, washed my face, and reapplied my makeup (that’ll happen when you catch a glimpse of yourself and your makeup after a good cry). Now I’m back on my A-game, crushing things left and right, and feeling as though I don’t celebrate my successes nearly enough (more on that another day, though). It reminded me that sometimes we all get a little overwhelmed, a little out-of-sorts, and sometimes we just need a gentle reminder from someone who knows all too well how that feels how to get back on track.

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Take A Break

You aren’t getting anything done when you’re all aflutter with stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, so take a break. My go-to is either a trip to the gym, a lunch date with the handsome man I married, or a half hour sitting on my back deck in the hot sun pretending to get a tan and reading a book. I cannot tell you how much more relaxed I feel after I spend a little time doing something for me.

Cry It Out

Y’all, crying is a good thing. What’s that Pinterest saying? Something about how crying helps you see things more clearly or something to that effect. Anyway, it’s true. When I am overwhelmed, I sit down on the floor (because it’s more dramatic and Oscar-worthy) and cry it out. When I’m done, I feel much better. Word of advice – bypass the mirror when you’re done.

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Break Down Your To-Do List

Mine gets crazy sometimes, so I’ll break it down into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish. The more I check off, the more badass I feel. The more badass I feel, the more I get done. The less time I have to do things when I set a goal, the more I actually get done.

Don’t Stop

I like my schedule. I love it, honestly. I love working for me and only me, creating my own schedule, and really just not answering to anyone else. It’s my jam. I always dreamed of being my own boss so I’d never miss a school performance, a holiday, a moment with the kids, or anything else important in their lives or even my own. But sometimes, I have to make myself work a little harder a little longer.

I might like to end my day at 3 pm so I can get my kids from school and spend the rest of the day doing the mom/wife thing, but it’s not always possible. A few days a month, I find myself back in the office when they’re home and in bed handling a few more things. Sometimes a longer day is necessary, and not stopping is what it takes. I have to remind myself that if I make today long and arduous, tomorrow I’ll thank myself for it – because if there is one sacrifice I am not ever willing to make, it’s spending time on the weekends working in my office. Weekends are for my family, and that’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice.

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Laugh it Out

Truth be told, sometimes I don’t get over it when I cry. Sometimes I don’t get it all done. I know my limits, and I know that I have some amazing people in my life. I make sure there’s always a fun friends event or date night on the calendar every week so I know I have an evening of serious laughter and good times ahead. Even when I’m not in the mood, it’s exactly what I always need to inspire me and motivate me to get back to badass.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or like your to-do list is too long? Do you let it get to you, or do you handle it like a boss?

Home Office Sneak-Peek

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“You’re crazy,” is what I hear most when I tell people my husband and I both work from home, share an office, and spend 24-hours a day together. I get it, really. The idea of spending this much time with the person you’re married to might sound a bit insane to many people, but it works really well for us. For one, we’ve always been very ‘together’ in terms of our marriage and relationship.

You know that feeling you have when you first meet someone special, and you’re falling in love? You can’t seem to get enough of one another, and you want to spend every waking moment together? We met more than 15 years ago on a blind date, and we still feel that way. It’s never gone away. When I think of the person I have the most fun with, it’s Craig. We have serious fun together. We laugh – a lot. And we just never rarely tire of one another.

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Working in the same office from home all day long doesn’t bother us – too much. Why? It’s simple; work requires our time and attention. We don’t do the same thing. I’m a writer with my own business. He’s an IT-genius who is always on the phone with his customers helping them through techy-stuff I can’t even pretend to understand. I’m always on my computer responding to emails, writing dozens of articles every day, and now I’m running my blog.

Sure, sometimes he talks to himself when he works, and his desk isn’t neat, and sometimes he doesn’t put enough half and half in the coffee he brings to me without me asking out of the goodness of my heart. Unforgivable. It works for us, and we like to work together from home. It’s been great for me, but a definite adjustment for both of us. His schedule is different now, mine is different now, and he kind of came in and messed up 8 years of pretty awesome weekday scheduling, but we adjusted and we’re good….most days!

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Here’s a sneak peek of our office in the works. We’ve been rearranging, trying new furniture and new layouts, decorating, undecorating, and redecorating. We’re nowhere near finished, but we are certainly thankful we chose a house with a dedicated home office we can use without interruption.

You’ll notice there’s a floral theme. I’m obsessed with fresh flowers. I have to have them at all times (it began as a desire to have fresh flowers on the kitchen island and somehow spun out of control into flowers on every available surface in every room). This is a room we keep things that are important to us, like fun DIY artwork from a church party and our kid’s Kindle chargers (because they go through those things like most people do coffee). It’s our space. It’s a work in progress. It’s where we spend the bulk of our time.

If you work from home, what’s the one thing you can’t live without? Fresh flowers and coffee are my must-have office obsessions! Drop a comment and let me know what you need to get through the day.