Balancing Work, Blogging and This Gig Called Motherhood

My guest post today is the lovely Jean from Mommy to Two BoysShe works from home and is a special needs mom to two active young boys. If there is anyone who can share some valuable insight into striking a balance between work, blogging and motherhood, it is certainly her!

“Hello, Dr. George? This is Jean. I am so sorry to do this with only a month until school starts this fall, but I won’t be coming back. You should find someone to take my Kindergarten position. The Johnson and Johnson commercials were right; having a baby does change everything.”

I quit my teaching job with just three courses left for my Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration, and about two years from becoming a principal. My life turned in a direction I hadn’t expected. I was officially a stay at home mom.

Now what?

Nine months in I got restless, missed adult interaction and my own income.  I found myself nitpicking my husband, stressed over little things and feeling a little less intelligent. I absolutely loved being a stay at home mom and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but had other personal goals I wanted to fulfill. We had recently bought a house as a two income family and were now down to one income; I needed to contribute financially. I searched until I found something to do from home that was right for me and our family that I would enjoy. I began marketing on a freelance basis for an amazing health and wellness company…

In the three years that followed, my first child was diagnosed with Autism. We began intensive therapy and a complete overhaul of our future. We reformulated plans, dreams, and ideals, especially when my next son was born with enough health issues to end up in the NICU for a month, where his life was finally saved by a blood transfusion. In the midst of all this, I continued to work my home business as well as keep up a personal blog and a work at home resource blog.

The number one challenge as a work at home mom is balance. I strive to make my business hours and actually stick to them. Both of my boys require a lot of attention, especially my special needs son. He needs guidance, validation, and praise from me constantly. It is near impossible to work while he is home and awake. Recently, in the most pitiful sad voice he said to me, “Mom, I told you to watch and then when I turned around you weren’t looking.” And on an anniversary date in December my husband said, “It’s nice to talk to you face to face, instead of the back of your head as you work at your computer.” Ouch. Hence, the need for some balance and prioritizing.

So how do I stay focused when I stare at all the duties I have as a work at home mom, a special needs mom, and a housewife?

Passion, success and discipline. 

Because I am passionate about my business, Autism work and blogging, I rarely procrastinate and don’t mind sacrificing other things to fit them into my day. That being said, my family is always top priority, I can’t stress that enough. A friend of mine recently said he would be content to be financially comfortable. Not me. I am comfortable now, but what I want is a future with complete financial freedom. Discipline is what makes or breaks each day for me. If I organize and prioritize my day the night before, or in the morning, I am focused and on track.

All areas of my life are put into Must Do, Should Do, and Can Do Lists

Must Do List: Reminds me to pay bills, set up doctor appointments, make calls for work, write blog posts, do laundry since no one has clean underwear…you get the picture.  In the Must Do List, every parent has something that changes the priorities in the list. My son’s Autism adds items like: call insurance to dispute coverage, write social stories (a therapy we use), or attend IEP meetings, among many others… 

Should Do List: Includes dishes, straightening, visiting blog friends, showering (that should always be on the Must list huh?), and exercising. 

Can Do List: Things I really want to do, like read a Kindle book, magazine, or play Angry Birds.

It’s easy to overload my day and add too much to each list so I’m careful to make sure it’s realistic. I want to feel successful for what I have done, rather than let down by what I have not done. By the end of the day, things that can be put off by a day get moved into the Should Do or Can Do lists.

The bottom line is I am only one mom who tries to do too many things and just wants to crash on the couch with a glass of red wine and some trashy TV after a long day of Autism tantrums, work, and housekeeping. But I don’t give myself those two hours unless I accomplish everything I set out to do that day.  If I do, I can have my “me time” as well as the reward that comes from meeting my goals.

This post was my last Must Do today, so excuse me; I’ve got a glass of wine and some TiVo’d shows waiting.

Please send me an email if you are interested in guest posting at Theta Mom® for TMC Network. Full details can be found on the Network page.

Comments

  1. says

    I am going to remember this line:

    I want to feel successful for what I have done, rather than let down by what I have not done.

    There are days when I am overwhelmed by my to-do lists, and I don’t do nearly as much as a lot of people!

  2. says

    I love the idea of three two do lists. I am the Queen of Procrastinating. I often find when I do those things that I have been putting off for so long that it takes such a short time and then I feel so good!

    Great Post Jean!!!

  3. says

    Personally, I hate all lists but finding balance is something I strongly support. I’m al ost at the end of my mothering journey but I don’t regret being with my kids one bit. They talk about it, how I helped in the school, went on field trips, saw every game they were in. Helped with homework and was part of their lives. I made the right choice and sounds like you did too!

  4. says

    This post is something I really needed to read. I have just started really blogging actively in the last six months and I’ve struggled with balancing everything properly…so much so that hubby and I had nice little heated discussion about it this very morning! So, your timing is amazing, and I am gaining some new resolve to make it work. Because I really do enjoy this little blogging/freelance writing venture I’m on. :-)

  5. says

    Hi Jean,

    Thanks so much for sharing your life and challenges. You are truly amazing. There are a lot of similarities between your story and mine, although I don’t have a special needs child. But I do have a passion to make this work at home business thing a viable (and lucrative) reality so that I can have financial freedom and the flexibility to live life on my own terms. You’re so right that striking a balance is key – I’ve had the same kind of comments you mention about not paying attention to my husband and kids at times. I’m trying hard to make those moments non-existent, but it’s a challenge. Thanks for the inspiration and re-affirmation that it can be done; if you can find that balance with all that you have on your plate, then I know that I can find a way to do it too! (and btw, thanks also for the chuckle about the shower being on the “should” list – my showers usually fall under the “maybe tomorrow” list! :-))

  6. says

    Thanks for the great post. As a WAHM/SAHM I find that balance is one of the hardest things to find. I really struggled with it last year and one of my goals for this year is to find more of it! I love the idea of your Must do, should do, can do list.

  7. says

    This is some seriously good advice! Thank you for the encouragement and for being an inspiration. I am so happy to have found your blog, especially with all that is going on in my life right now.

  8. says

    Awesome insights, Jean! Any mom that works from home has had similar feelings but when you add taking care of a special needs son into the equation, it magnifies by 10! I am constantly in awe of how you “do it all”, and I know it’s always with sacrifice and thought. Keep it going – you are making the world a better place for 3 wonderful people who deserve it! (make that 4 – you have to count YOU!!!) xoxo

  9. says

    I love your lists! I don’t know how you do it all. I struggle to do everything without kids. I am going to implement your lists right now.

  10. says

    This was a REALLY Great insight into how to go about managing your day. There is tons of “talk” on how we need to do it, but never an example. The “must do, should do, can do” idea is great! I think I’ll have to try to implement that into my day as well…see if it gives me a little mroe structure and balance. :-)

  11. says

    Hi Jean! Great Post once again, and it is amazing how much you sound like me in so many ways, (minus the special needs child). I, too, left a great job that I had 13 years invested in, and was due to retire in 7, was finishing up my Master’s, bought a house with my husband that we could afford with 2 incomes and left it all behind to be a stay at home mom once we discovered that Maddox had some issues and needed me to be there for him full time. Maddox has been a rough ride from the beginning, and faced many challenges, but through hard work and much love and attention, he is doing rather well! He is actually more advanced than his 2 year old peers! I do, however, need to figure out what I can do now for me so we can catch up financially! Anyway, I know this is a rather lengthy response, but I love your blog and now that I read more about you, I feel as if we are already friends! Thanks again for your wonderful insights!

  12. says

    Well said jean! I am debating on quitting this popsicle stand of 9-6, monday through friday. What scares the ish out of me is that “B” word…balance. I get the nerve to up and just stop and stay home, and then boom…the what ifs start.

  13. says

    I love the tips on how to manage your time wisely. This was a wonderfully insightful post especially because i want to have my own home based business one day. But first i have to get into the grove of balancing the life of a SAHM and Wife. Thank you so much!

    • says

      Thanks you Rachel! I appreciate that and hope it helps to keep your priorities in check. This system has been working for me for about a year. Which is the longest any organization/balance system has lasted!

  14. says

    This was a fantastic post. I think pretty much all of us struggle to find that equilibrium, no matter whether we’re WAHMs, SAHMs or 9-5 ma’ams!

    I love how simply you break up your tasks – that’s the only way anything actually seems doable. I must admit I have way too many of mine sliding down to the Should Dos, time to get a grip!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. You really are a Theta Mom.

  15. says

    I’m always trying to find balance, especially since I voluntarily seem to add more to my plate than I can handle! I need to sit down and make those lists. I just love the three you suggest.

  16. says

    Dedicated moms like you who do all they can for their child with special needs are my every day heroes. That has always been the case for me as a pediatrician, but all the more so now that I am a mom of two and see just the incredible amount of work and patience it takes to be a parent.
    I hope you enjoyed that glass of wine at the end of the day. =)

    • says

      I know exactly what you mean Yolanda. Being a parent has changed my outlook on everything. I used to teach and know that if I ever go back, as a parent now, I will be a completely different teacher. I now “get” that every child is someone’s baby. Thank you for your kind words. You calling me a hero brings tears to my eyes. I often do not feel like a hero, so that means a lot.

  17. says

    What a wonderful reminder to really think about the musts and the shoud and the likes. I too need to stick to a routine or everything falls apart. I will say that every once in awhile it is nice to really look at that list and make a change so that a like is possible. For instance…instead of a shower or exercise I will grab a glass of wine for American Idol.

    Also sometimes I re-evaluate the musts because honestly, after a few months that lists starts to take up more time than I have in a day.

    Great post!

  18. says

    Well, as a serious procrastinator and very disorganised person there’s some great advice for me here! It is good to see such balance in your life and that you have your priorities straight. It is essential to have oneself a glass of wine after a must do job well done ;-)

    xx Jazzy

  19. says

    What a great post! I am consistently struggling to write, work, and be the best mom I can be. Soemtimes I kick butt. Most of the time I fall short! Balance is key for everything and I loved being reminded of that!

    • says

      Yes, balance is so important, but also so hard. The biggest struggle for me everyday is figuring out that balance. I feel as though I go to bed most nights not feeling I balanced well enough. But I don’t let it get me down. I do what I can. Thanks for the compliments!

  20. says

    Great to read this and see how far you have come in every way, Jean. You are definitely an inspiration!

    I especially admire people who are disciplined enough to work from home. I work in an office four hours a day while Michael is at school, and the times I have tried to do it from home have been extremely frustrating due to a touchy remote desktop and all the distractions of other things to do here.

  21. says

    I just wrote a post about balance a few days ago and how it’s impossible to do it all. It’s so hard. I have guilt most days when I’m at work, I complain too much when I’m not at work, I always have a massive list of things that need to get done… bottom line, though, I love every second with my boys, no matter how tiring it can be! But, still… the struggle is always there.

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