A Survival Guide for Work-From-Home Parents

As Seen in The Huffington Post!

 

monkeybusinessimages via Getty Images

People are always asking me how I manage to consistently work as much as I do with a toddler in the house. It makes me feel great that I have somehow made this near-impossible feat look easy, but I can assure you that it’s anything but.

 

I’d liken it to nailing jello to the wall.

 

I made the choice to work from home when my daughter was a few months shy of her first birthday. I didn’t have the help of a full-time nanny, and my day to day life became, well, a circus. The juggling act between meeting client deadlines, developing creative content, answering a daily onslaught of emails, taking care of my home, and most importantly, taking care of my family, has been a learning process like no other.

 

As with anything, this routine took a little time to ease in to. There are days that go off without a hitch, and days where I’d like to hide in my closet with my laptop and a giant vat of espresso. There are days I feel more capable than superwoman, and then days where I repeatedly ask myself if I’m crazy to have launched my own writing business with a now super-active toddler running circles around me all day, every day.

I hate to sound cliche, but the truth is, if I can do it, so can the rest of you amazing mamas (and daddies) of the world. Here are a few tips for working from home while parenting:

 

Get ahead of the game.
Preparation is key. No one knows the needs of your child or children better than you. Create a schedule that allows for a comfortable balance without overwhelming you. Wake up before the kids, allow yourself to organize and map out your day, and answer some pressing emails. Know exactly which parts of your day will demand the most of your attention instead of winging it and hoping things fall in line. They won’t. Learning to work on a schedule and create routines that work for all of the people in your home will be a game changer that will not only increase productivity, it will keep you in control of your day.

 

Ask for help.
Any mom, business owner, or mamapreneur worth her salt knows that it truly does take a village to get ahead. For me personally, I am not in a position to hire a full time sitter or nanny, nor do I want to rely on the help of someone else. I enjoy being with my daughter as much as I can between client calls and projects, however, I know my limits. Luckily, I have family close by who are willing to help a few days a week, as well as a neighbor who is happy to watch my daughter for a few hours on some of my busiest days. The trick is to take full advantage of this time. This is when I schedule any calls (because no one enjoys hearing a screaming child who just spilled her goldfish all over the floor), engage in creating new business plans, and taking a few moments of quiet time to reinvigorate my brain and thought process. Ask for help. Don’t be shy. Help is good.

 

Know your limits.
This is the most important piece of information I can give to anyone looking to maintain a successful career with small children at home. If the first two options do not work out for you, this one will be your secret weapon. Sure, we all want to do as much as humanly possible to keep everyone, clients, children, spouses, friends, and family happy day in and day out – but let’s be real here. If you’re consistently overextending yourself, something will suffer and it will most likely be you, and the quality of your work. This happened to me quite a bit in the beginning, until I became more familiar with and accepting of my limits. Learning to say no, whether to yourself or others is an invaluable tool for success.

 

Have a sense of humor.
And be realistic. Do not expect perfection of yourself or anyone else involved in your work-from-home life. Allow a little room for error, a lot of patience, and time to learn. When in doubt – laugh (even if it’s at yourself).

The truth is, anything that results in success takes a lot of hard work, trial and error, and patience. You’ll get there, trust me.

 

Working from Home with Child: Smart or Just Plain Insane?

People are always asking me how I manage to consistently work as much as I do with a toddler in the house. It makes me feel great that I have somehow made this near-impossible feat look easy, but I can assure you that it’s anything but.

I’d liken it to nailing jello to the wall.

I made the choice to work from home when my daughter was a few months shy of her first birthday. I didn’t have the help of a full-time nanny, and my day to day life became, well, a circus. The juggling act between meeting client deadlines, developing creative content, answering a daily onslaught of emails, taking care of my home, and most importantly, taking care of my family has been a learning process like no other.
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As with anything, this routine took a little time to ease in to. There are days that go off without a hitch, and days where I’d like to hide in my closet with my laptop and a giant vat of espresso. There are days I feel more capable than superwoman, and then days where I repeatedly ask myself if I’m crazy to have launched my own writing business with a now super-active toddler running circles around me all day, every day.
I hate to sound cliche, but the truth is, if I can do it, so can the rest of you amazing women of the world. Here are a few tips for working from home while parenting.

How My Gut Instincts Led to a MUCH Better Life

As Seen In The Huffington Post

They say change is good. Try something new. Follow your gut.

 

But what happens when all of the above seems as scary and unnecessary as well, staying in the same place?

 

The truth is, for all of 28 years, the only place I ever followed my gut was to decide on dinner plans. Raised with an innate sense of “You can’t do that,” I always thought the big bad world outside of my comfortable little Long Island cocoon was there for others to conquer and take over, while I sat back and dreamed. Staying in the same place felt like the only option.

 

As a complicated woman, with a serious past and some even more serious self-confidence issues, I had convinced myself that the “happy endings” were for everyone else. All of the pressure to settle down, get married, and start a family became white noise in a brain that was certain I was not worthy of such a typical outcome. I knew my faults and my quirks and hated myself for them — and began getting comfortable with the notion that I’d be on the sidelines forever, as everyone else continued scoring life-changing touchdowns….

 

READ MORE HERE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-dempsey/how-my-gut-instincts-gave_b_9643312.htmlFullSizeRender(21)

Do Not Put that Phone in the Toilet: And Other Truths About Toddler Life

My little angel turned 14 months the other day – and I’d like to pause for a moment and reflect on all that has transpired since we celebrated turning one.

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14 months old. I never thought I’d be one of those people celebrating in months until forever, but, c’est la vie – I promise to stop when she’s 2. Maybe.

Since I was still deep in 1st-birthday-party-recovery-mode last month when this nugget turned 13 months, I forgot to take a pause and reflect on all the changes that have come about since my daughter propelled herself out of infancy and into another stratosphere of growing, learning, loving … and exerting her independence/destroying my house.

It’s true – I have loved motherhood more deeply than I have ever imagined. I have cherished each moment, become infatuated with each milestone and smile and learning experience. But if I had to sum up my feelings about toddler life, a stage I know I have only just recenly entered, the expression would be:

“Holy Shit.”

As in, “Holy sh$%. Bella! Don’t touch that!”

or

“Holy shhhhhhh-OMG Bella, DO NOT put Daddy’s iPhone in the toilet!”

and sometimes

“Holy shhh-aww – these hugs are better than anything in the world.”

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But really – this whole time since someone sent the memo to my daughter that she has passed the innocent, cooperative, infant stage and started wreaking havoc on my home and the rate at which my hair turns gray, has felt like someone hit the target on the dunk tank – and I was the one on the plank.

Sure, I knew that once this princess was on two feet I’d need a bit a more energy.

Of course, I was aware of the rapidly-fluctuating emotions.

No, I had no clue, my home would become Ground Zero for my toddler tornado and I would need to contemplate purchasing a crash helmet for my child. But it has, so here I am, in my unmade bed covered in baby socks and puzzle pieces telling you all about it.

This weekend, instead of posting the typical, “Aw, my daughter is 14-months-old post and loves to give high-fives and say lots of words” post, I decided to keep it real.

So yes, while she’s smart (she already says over 10 words!), engaging (she smiles at, says “Hi!” to, and waves at everyone she sees), and extremely loving (the hugs are strong, intentional, and filled with gratitude) – she is inevitably, a toddler on a mission.

Here is what is really going on in this toddler world of mine, and all of the toddler homes around you – quite possibly with details no one else is sharing:

My Toilets are Now Entertainment

Yes, we put on toilet locks once we discovered our daughter’s penchant for splashing toilet water about, but fear not, she’s figured them out. She not only sticks her hands in there, she’ll throw anything in her sight into the bowl, including, but not limited to, expensive shampoos, makeup brushes, shoes, and an entire trashcan.

My Beautiful Coffee Tables and Couches are Now a Jungle Gym

Hell, so is my bed, my dining chairs, and the dryer. Now that she’s walking more steadily, climbing has become her party trick. I turn my back for 20 seconds only to find she’s made her way to the top of the coffee table, TV remotes in hand, and ready to cause serious harm. She’ll leverage a dining chair and battle her way to the top of the dining room table, knocking over flower vases and stopping my heart. My couches need cleaning, since these are her new trampolines, my bed has led to the need for multiple ice packs, and taking clothes out of the dryer turns into an all-out battle to try and remove chickadee from inside the machine.

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Food is the Enemy

And so is the high chair. I have been kicked in my stomach, a boob, and my lip trying to prevent this little monster from weaseling her way out of the chair – which is so shocking considering how much she loved this damn thing 3 months ago. All food that I try to feed her ends up on the floor or in my hair, since we’re currently on a quest to feed ourselves. I waste countless hours and endless amounts of money on food she’ll eat one day but not the next, and my dog has gained 15 pounds.

Car Rides are also the Enemy

Which sucks considering this used to be a time of peace and quiet, back when each car ride produced the miracle of sleep and a break for me to answer calls, listen to voicemails, or listen to anything other than Elmo. Yea, this is no longer the case. Cue Elmo’s songs and bring along a baggie full of goldfish because this is going to be one hell of a ride.

Independence is her middle name

If she can’t do it herself, she’s not doing it at all. This goes for much more than just meal time. This goes for putting shoes on and taking them off, washing her hair in the tub, pushing elevator buttons, removing diapers, and oh so much more. Who needs a mom when you have a control-freak for a kid and a weak personality.

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I wouldn’t have it any other way

Yes, with all of this, my very-involved job and mamapreneur goals, and a husband and dog to care for, I am exhausted. Yes, I find myself wondering what the hell I did with all my free time when this kid spend 90% of her days on a tummy time mat staring at the ceiling and kicking her feet. But yes, with every “Mama!!!!!,” big strong hug, hilarious kiss on the cheek/mouth/arm, and giggle that touches my soul, it is all so, so worth it. My toddler boss is my best friend, and I too, am learning everyday right along with her – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Kids, Caffeine & Keeping It Real: From a Dad’s Perspective

I’ll be honest-  I get really wrapped in the female perspective of parenting. Accept this guest post as a gift of goodness and a double dose of daddy’ing done right. From my good friend, talented writer and designer, Ruben Cabrera of The Morning Coffee Project.

  
Breaking the Cycle 

Coming to you live, from my porch swing, hoping I finish this before I hear the Hot Dog Dance, then Mickey and ALL the homies start assaulting us with their wild dance moves! HOT DOG!

Parent or not, I know damn well that you know the Hot Dog Dance… and if for some reason you are blessed enough not to,  I pray you never do. (*prayer hands & crying face emoji*)

I think all folks who have children or who plan to can all agree on one thing: parenthood is slightly terrifying. For me, it was scary at first, and I suppose it still is, for all of the obvious reasons; everything from butt rashes to screwing them up emotionally for the rest of their lives. That second one is even scary to read (don’t re-read that sentence, I had mild anxiety typing it.)

But as a father, I suppose my next biggest fear is NOT being able to break “The Cycle.” Dads, you know what I’m talking about. Ladies, if you still don’t get it after you read this, take your sugar on a sunny afternoon date somewhere and pick his brain about it. Then hug him.

BREAKING THE CYCLE:

Some of us barely knew our fathers growing up, some of us NEVER had any. A lot of us spend almost the first 30 years of our lives being angry at those men. ​

Some guys had great dads, I’m sure of it. And for a long while there have been generations of boys (and girls) raised by men (or women) who’ve left scars (physical, mental, or emotional) on them.

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My apologies if that took a dark turn; I promise this isn’t to marsh your mallows, but the point I’m making is, I feel like WE, as parents, are learning from the “children are to be seen and not heard” generation. I look around at my peers and I see a generation of young parents, some tattooed AF with super eclectic styles & some with super conservative and traditional values, CELEBRATING their children, loving them unconditionally (that means NO MATTER WHAAAAAATTT) and it is AWESOME!

 

I wish I could tell you that by the time your kids are adults, society is going to figure it’s shit out, but we all know that’s not the case. If you can read I’m sure you’ve read a quote that says something like:

 

“BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD”

Super cliché huh? No doubt, but I look at it like this, I can’t change the world over night, I can’t stop other people who spread hate, negativity, and bigotry, and I can’t stop those same people from having kids.

The ONLY thing I can do is raise decent human beings – all three of them. I can teach my son compassion and understanding before all the machismo. I’ll try my hardest to make sure that my daughters know the immense and awe-inspiring POWER that Women hold.

I wish my children could know how much I love them. Any time we spend apart, I spend hating that I wasn’t more patient with them or wishing I would’ve smiled more around them before I had to leave again.

I find myself wondering if my mom felt that way too, or even if she STILL feels like that. My mind wanders even further into the way that she has always been. The good, the bad, the love, the moments of misunderstanding, the things that may have hurt me. Maybe she, like me, is the byproduct of society.

 

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Maybe you can’t blame anyone else, but I know she‘s a living breathing human and the same way I have faults, I’m sure she’s had hers a lot longer. Whatever demons I may have faced I’m sure she’s known hers own all my life. Who’s to say I’m not a reminder of one of those old friends?

I mean she taught me great lessons in parenting, whether it be how to or how not to parent. So if whatever I’ve felt was needed to be felt for my children to have a better father (I hope) and future, then so be it.

 Sometimes we go through things so others won’t have to. What can I do better so my children’s children will live happily into their adulthood?

Maybe she just got lost on her way. Maybe it’s too late to get her back but, HOT DIGGITY DOG, it’s my fuel to “break the cycle.”

To my sourpatch Kids, my Coconuts, my sugar cubes:

A kiss for Jupiter, one for Mars. One for the Moon and a bunch for the Stars.

 

-Daddy

Peace, Love, Morning Coffee

www.themorningcoffeeproject.com

-Rube

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