Tag Archives: work-home balance

Tirades from the trenches (or couch, rather)

I have completely taken over my couch and coffee table.  It’s my new favorite work space.

The scenario: My Dell Vostro on my lap, feet on the coffee table,a glass of iced mineral water nearby, the iPod hooked up and pumping LCD Soundsystem through my earbuds.  Awww, yeah.  This is what I call working!

Yes, it’s true I have a wonderful, dedicated desk and computer in my office, with three monitors — one of which is wide-screen.  I like it too, but I’ve found that I’ve fallen in love with my laptop.  It’s small, portable and it makes it easier to pay attention to Madeline, rather than holed up in my office.  I also kind of FEEL like I’m working offsite — even though I’m not.

I think I’ve finally found that tenuous place between caring for a baby and taking care of clients.  Madeline has many times throughout the day when she’s content to play in her bounce seat or nearby on a play-mat.  As long as I’m in view she’s cool.

Still, I put in most of my web hours after she’s gone to bed.

I haven’t slept much lately.

A therapeutic way to deal with negative feelings

For two weeks, I was bothered by an innocent conversation I had with a person.

Seriously… it was very innocent.  There was just chatting.  But something was said on their part — it’s not important what — that kind of bugged me.

And hours later it still bugged me.

And hours after that it grew from a nagging annoyance to downright anger.  I found myself grousing about it to my husband and close friends.  That’s how much it annoyed me.

That is not healthy.

One of my personal goals for this year is to learn to relax and let go of negative feelings.  I completely believe that it’s OK to have negative feelings — what kind of monster doesn’t have the full range of emotions?! — but letting them simmer and grow inside can start to intrude on other parts of your life.

I don’t have time for that.

There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with these feelings, and I’ll admit that I’m no expert, but I have learned a few things that I would like to pass on.

Wrong Way

Online

I’ll admit, I considered making a Facebook or Twitter status that was just vague enough not to call the person out, yet addressing how angry I felt.  But that’s a slippery slope.  And while it might have felt good at the time, I probably would have felt bad later, and you can’t take that stuff back.  It also looks really unprofessional and silly.

Better Way

Two weeks later, when I realized the comment still bothered me and it was starting to affect my overall perception of the person, I remembered something a counselor once told me:

Go back and address the issue with the person.  It’s never too late.

So, I decided to talk to the person.  But I hate confrontations, so I also decided to practice.

Speaking to the invisible person, here’s how my conversation went…

Me: Excuse me, could we talk in private?  Listen, I value our relationship, which is why I felt like I should say this.  Something you said really bothered me, and I don’t believe that you meant to say it maliciously, but I wanted to let you know that I was offended.  I’m not seeking an apology.  I just wanted to get that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.

And you know, what?  I felt better.  I didn’t even need to speak to the person directly to feel better.  Just having that practice conversation helped.  It was like a huge weight was lifted off my chest.

So if you find yourself bothered by something, I highly suggest having a real or imaginary conversation with the person.  Chances are, you’ll feel better, and the issue will have been dealt with in a mature way.

Now, if the issue is something that requires action on the part of the other person, I recommend the practice conversation, then actually having the conversation with the person.  I’m sure they will appreciate your professionalism and maturity.  And you’ll feel better in the long run.

How to manage the baby-work balance

I’ve been easing back into a regular routine for the past three months, ever since the birth of my daughter.

I’m finding it exceedingly difficult.

Here’s my question: Can there be a balance between working from home and taking care of a baby?

I wish I knew the answer.

I have found that baby care threatens to overshadow working at home.  Try as I might to find balance during the day, the fact remains that I am her primary caregiver and her needs must be met.

But just because there’s no 50-50 balance doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  It IS possible to do both if you finagle things just a bit.  Here’s what I’m trying to do:

  1. Ask for help
    I used to find this really hard, but over time I’ve grown up.  A LOT.  And I’ve realized that everyone needs help now and then, even those of us who have a strong urge to go it alone.  I need help getting everything done, and I’m really fortunate that I have a supportive family and friends.  So I lean on that support network for watching baby when I have meetings or deadlines to hit.
  2. Rethink working hours
    I would absolutely LOVE to put in my work hours between 9 and 5, but that just isn’t going to happen at this stage in baby’s life.  I can do some, but not all.  So I try to think creatively.  When the kids are awake and active — household chores!  But I work on projects at night, early in the morning and on the weekends when the kids are asleep or otherwise occupied with Dad.   It’s quiet.  It lets me think.  Yes, I do lose out on a little sleep, but not so much that I suffer.
  3. Email is a mom’s best friend
    I try to do most of my communication via email, when it doesn’t matter if you answer at 2am.  Also, clients can’t hear the baby crying through email.  It’s awesome!   If I have to take calls, I try to schedule them when there’s little chance the baby will wake and start crying.

It’s not easy having a baby and trying to run a business, let alone work.  But I’m managing.  In the end, I love both of my jobs (mom and business owner), and I can’t imagine giving up either.

Work-home efficiency tips

Rosie the RiveterEven though we no longer have a nanny and I am now the primary caregiver for my nearly 4-year-old and soon-to-arrive daughter, leaving my full-time job in May does not mean I am a stay-at-home-mom or find it easier to balance the home-work life.

The challenges of working from home are even tougher.  There’s no way to escape some days.  And some days I put in even longer hours just to make sure I can get it all done.

So when a friend/fellow working mamma wrote a blog post about tips she gathered to help with that balance I eagerly read it:

Top 10 Efficiency Tips to Simplify the Mamma Juggling Act

Honestly, I was hoping there would be something there I haven’t already tried.  But I guess I’ve been doing this so long — although not at this level of intensity — that I’m an old hat at balancing this stuff.  But there are some good suggestions in there for moms new to this world.

Not every tip works for every household, but some of the general concepts are important.  If you have a spouse, being a team is SOOOOOOOO important.  Andy and I have our challenges, but in essence, we function as a team.

I don’t have the patience to keep a giant calendar that I actually have to physically write on. That seems really inefficient, too.  I have a master calendar on my computer that I sync to my iPod and Google Calendar.  Andy and I share our Google calendars so we know what we’re doing.  It’s not a perfect system, but it works for us.

Communication is the key, though, and if that breaks down, the teamwork and the calendar break down.  Since I’m usually on a computer, I use instant messaging to talk to Andy when I need to let him know about schedule changes or ask a question.  And I’m not afraid to call, text or email the people I need to when I need help.

So my top efficiency tip is:  Communication.  And not just about schedules.  Everything.  You can head off misunderstandings, duplicated efforts, and craziness just by communicating.