How I create routine while working from home and being a parent

Pro tip: naps on naps — everyday.

Balancing Mamahood
Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Balance is bullshit.

Between trying to build a business, a family and maintain whatever self-care possible, something always falls to the waist side.

Working from home as become the norm is so many homes and really can give some semblance to “balance”.

With a reduced commute and little to no distractions from colleagues, I can honestly say that I was a far more efficient worker. And then I had a baby.

Although I hadn’t been in the game long, I knew from day one of having my tiny human that juggling it all was not going to be easy.

Do your values align with your routine?

Here’s a quick three-part exercise that I ask you to humor me on.

Part-one: Take a moment to get into a birds’ eye view of your schedule. When looking at your schedule from day-to-day, weekly, or monthly, what does it look like? Are you working a crazy schedule and have zero personal time? Do find yourself working hard and playing even harder? Maybe vice versa?

Part-two: What are your values? Do you value spending quality time with family over working? What are some non-negotiables that you need in your life from gym time, quality time or grind time? And maybe it’s just pancakes on Sundays with your family. Whatever fills your cup jot it down.

Part-three: How does your current schedule contrast against your values? What areas can you trim the fat? Are you staying up past your bedtime and watching TV, leaving you to feel drained the next morning? (Helloooo newest Netflix show to binge). Or maybe you’re running around doing errands on that Sunday morning, when you’d rather be having pancakes? Check-in and see if your values and lifestyle truly align.

Boss Baby

Suddenly time was no longer my time. Although everyone warns you to get stuff done before having a baby or to get your sleep now, you never really appreciate it until they’re here and it’s too late to withdraw on that sage advice.

So, here I was with this small business, new business, and a small & new human. All constantly bidding for my attention.

It’s not an exact science and with all the balls in the air, there’s usually one falling but here are the tip/ tricks that have helped me leave my corporate full-time job, build my start-up business, and manage a high six-figure small business in my small town, all the while being a new Mama.

1. Sleep training me

I’m the Queen of naps. I’m talkin’ like 20 min power naps here and there. In & out and recharged. I will sleep anywhere — zero shame.

In addition to these naps, I have my bedtime set for 8PM till 4AM.

This is a less than fun experiment and this can take some time but playing around to find your optimal sleep hours is worth this seemingly tedious task. Total disclaimer it took me a while to set these hours and I played with them for a while. Be patient though, I promise it’s well worth getting to know your body and learning to work with it, rather than against it.

2. Sleep training baby

This option made the most sense for our family, but it’s not the only one out there.

If my husband’s side of the family had a spirit animal it would be a Snorlax, so luckily for us our baby was very much like Dad. My son thrived with this structure of sleep training. We started at 4 months, it took 2–3 days, and this champ was sleeping like a pro. Giving this Mama some much-needed time to work.

3. Schedule

Now that we had a decently regular(ish) schedule from the sleep training, I was able to create my “office” hours.

I’ll either have my VA or me prep my schedule the night before so that I know what to expect the next day.

Based on what needs to get done, I front load my day by prioritizing the tasks from most important to least. I’ll usually time block each specific task and keep on schedule that way. This way at the very least if I must bump anything I’ll have tackled one to two hard-hitting tasks and anything else can be bumped as needed.

4. Waking early

Learning your “go hours” or “golden hours” is the key to productivity. I played around with staying up late in the early days with my son and soon realized that I had far more brain power in the morning than the evening.

This lark wakes up around 4–4:30AM. Which means I usually get to work till 7AM. By frontloading my day I’m able to get the harder things done early, leaving me feeling relatively accomplished and moving my business forward one small step at a time.

5. Asking for help

Ask any successful leader and they’ll say that the skill of delegation is one needed for true success.

Coming from a background of building two businesses from the ground up, I like to get my hands dirty. But there comes a time to wash those hands and rid yourself of the small ticket items or time sucking tasks that a VA or someone else on your team can handle.

The same totally applies at home too! I’m learning that if we’re all working towards the same common goal, with a team mentality, it’ll get you to the desired results much faster. (All the while saving your sanity at the same time)

Truthfully, I’m still working on this and it’s hard to let go, but well worth it to gain time and energy back for the more important things that I value.

6. Creating boundaries

I have working hours in my schedule with what’s on the menu for the day, but outside of those hours it’s coloured red and listed as “Busy”. This is my reminder to myself that this time is a priority to my family and I. These hours are for the most part non-negotiable and I’m off the grid. In addition to that, I’ll often place my phone on DND to avoid any unwanted work or other distractions.

7. Creating deadlines for myself

Perks of being your own boss: you don’t work under anyone.

Disadvantages to being your own boss: there are some days where I just want to be told what to do and go home.

This one is hard. I’m notorious for believing I’m some sort of she-bot that can accomplish 20+ hard tasks a day. And when I don’t complete these they’ll get pushed to the next day and I’ll end up feeling like a total failure and frustrated with myself.

This system just wasn’t hacking it for me. So, my VA and I started to set deadlines to help me prioritize what’s next. These deadlines are hard and generally set-in stone.

Although I could move these dates, by taking these seriously, and as though someone on the other side is waiting on something from me has given me the consistency that has helped move the trajectory my business forward pretty quickly.

8. Support systems

Who are your people? And can you rely on them?

Support from family has been huge for us. We have both blood relatives that live close and friends who are the family we choose.

It goes both ways; we all rely on one another. When there’s that major client meeting that just cannot be bumped, or when baby is under the weather and cannot go to daycare, someone is there.

I know this might not be the experience for all, and I’m truly grateful for the people we have the surrounding us to allow for this flexibility.

Life happens and unplanned plans flare up that that unwelcomed pimple on your face in the morning. These habits and systems I’ve intentionally curated have helped develop and nurture both my life & business. My routine is one of the biggest assets to trying to achieve the impossible goal of “balance”.

What’s your routine like? What tips & tricks help you to try to do it all?

PS; The biggest acknowledgement for the support to be able to do what I love and to help me manage it all is my husband. A good partner is hard to find, and a perfect teammate is even harder. Thank you for always being my MVP, E!

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The Next Door Coach - Jenna Zeng

A bubble tea obsessed, toddler mama and a mindset coach. I'm here to support with all things and personal development & parenthood.