My assignment for this article was to write about working from home with twins and ironically I had to ask for an extension on the assignment because I could not find a free moment to actually sit and write! I was sick, the twins were sick, husband was sick and the baby thinks 5 am is party time. On top of all that, I had a flower proposal to get out and about a dozen things to order and organize for an upcoming work event. Time was not on my side and things were not getting done. That does not sit well with my perfectionist personality. Since becoming a mom of 3, I have had to let myself be OK with not getting my to do list done every day. Working from home with 3 kids under 4 doesn’t always allow much work to actually get done.
Working from home is not new to me. I was an interior designer for about 6 years and ran my business from home. However, that was pre-kids. I could come and go as I pleased, meet with clients at a moment’s notice, get up when I wanted, work out during the day. Things were pretty easy going. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with the twins, I slowed my work load and decided to take it easy. And, to be honest, I was so huge I could barely move after about 15 weeks anyways. It wasn’t until after the twins were born that I decided to close up shop and leave the world of interior design to focus on my family. Then, when the twins were 1 1/2, before baby #3 was born, I decided to follow a passion of mine and start doing floral design for weddings and events. Once again, working from home.
Time management is a key component to working from home. I try to make the most of my free time, but there are a lot of days or nights that I want to sit on the couch, drink a beer and watch the Bachelor. Nap time is a special treat for moms. I try to get as much of my work done during this time so I can enjoy my evenings with my husband (or the Bachelor, don’t judge!) However, that is not always the case and my kids don’t always nap or nap at the same time. When I have a wedding or an event, my work is obviously hard to do with 3 kids running around me. I am cutting flowers, arranging, and creating bouquets. I can do most of this work after my husband gets home. He usually takes the kids to do something so I can get started and not be up until midnight. The twins are in pre-school 2 mornings a week and the baby naps while they are gone (usually) so I can get a lot done in those 3 hours.
Being a full time stay at home mom and also a work from home mom is hard work. It seems like a great gig, and for the most part, I love it. But there is no break. I live and work in the same place 24/7. There are weeks when I am extremely busy with floral work and house work. Those weeks are logistically really hard. Making sure that the kids are taken care of and my work gets completed and delivered while keeping the house in order and everyone fed, it’s exhausting. By the end of those weeks, I am running on fumes. I love what I do, and I love being a stay at home mom, so I push through. I am blessed to have a great support system and that keeps me sane and that is the only way I am able to pursue a career and run a small business from home.
In working and mothering full-time at home, I had to learn to ask for and accept help (something I am really bad about, as I like to do everything on my own.) I am beyond blessed to live an hour from my parents. Throughout the kids lives, they have been really involved and have always been here to help in any way that they can. They babysit, cut flowers, help with flower deliveries, anything I have needed help with they have been there. I also have amazing in laws that help out when they can by watching kids or just be an extra set of hands. Babysitters are expensive, especially with 3 kids! I used to feel really guilty about spending the money on a sitter, but you do what you need to do. I usually only hire a sitter when I have actual floral work to do. There are days though that I just need to leave my house alone. For my sanity, I have let the guilt of spending the money go and allow myself that time to recharge. I am a better mom and wife when I can get my head clear and have a moment to myself. Not every mom is as lucky as I am to have a supportive husband and family. I owe them all a great deal!
I am not a “fly by the seat” kind of person. I like schedule and I like routine. Working from home with 3 kids does not really fall into the category of routine or schedule. I am learning with each day how to let go of perfection and try to except that things will not always go the way I planned it. In fact, most of my days rarely go as planned, working or not. I think that is the key to being a successful work from home mom. It’s good to set boundaries and set a work schedule, but that may not always be possible. Flexibility, I am learning, is key to running a business from home. (Someday I will be able to practice this without a panic attack!)
Working from home when you have multiple kids is not for everyone. There are days I wonder whether it is the best thing for me! But for now it works. It’s about finding a balance and I think I am about as balanced as I can be, at least for the next 18 years or so!
Meredith Echols is a mom to 3 year old boy/girl twins and a 9 month old baby boy. She has been married for over 9 years to her best friend and lives in Indiana. Meredith was an interior designer for 10 years before starting her own floral design business, A Fresh Flower. When Meredith isn’t chasing her 3 kids all over town, she can be found cleaning, doing laundry or cooking something. If she finds some free time, she enjoys reading books, blogs, shopping and enjoying a beer or glass of wine with her husband. Meredith writes about her business and all things floral and wedding on her blog afreshflowerblog.blogspot.com.