Encouragement

How to be a mom (who works) // 6 totally easy steps

how to be a mom who works

I was a stay at home mom for just over a year when we realized: we’re broke. It wasn’t really a surprise, but we knew we’d have to find something. Either my husband was going to have to start working on the weekends, or I’d have to go back to work. When a friend called and offered me a job I could do from home, without finding (or paying for) childcare, it was a no brainer. Voila! I joined the ranks of women staying home with their kids and earning income (or doing ministry) on the side.

 

Four years--and a pregnancy, a third child, countless diapers, work calls, deadlines, and frantic crying sessions to my husband--later, I’m sharing what I’ve learned as a work at home mom. Consider these the nuggets of gold I’ve mined from lots (and lots) of mistakes!

 

1. Get used to failing everyone.

 

Like, really used to it. Make yourself a little bed there because this is your seat for the duration of this flight.

 

If you're a people pleaser, this is going to be a watershed moment for you. You'll either crack through the middle trying to meet everyone's needs, or you'll have this Divine Moment where you'll realize a) it's not actually your responsibility to do more than you can do for these people and b) other people’s approval doesn't really feel that great anyways.

 

2. Learn to see failure for what it is…

 

an incredible teacher.

 

You’re probably tired of learning, because it’s hard work, and definitely a knock on your pride, right? Girl, I hear you. Here’s the thing: we can stay there in failure-adverse land and absolutely petrify, or we can embrace the hard work of learning and start to produce something that’s really worth the effort. The seed that dies in the earth produces brand new life. Failure teaches like success can’t. So, embrace it. Get downright giddy over it. Smile a secret smile, and say, "I going to be soooo good when this is all over!"

 

3. Stop playing the short-game.

 

I can't even sit through a slow-moving classic novel anymore, because I'm so hopped up on instant Facebook status updates. Stop feeding the instant in your life--turn your phone off (for the LOVE, take your email off your phone!!!)--and start making space for the things that take time to build. The lesson about failure above? I have to caution you: you'll look for lessons immediately, and you might find some, but the real lessons come after you put some time in between you and the failure. It's a process like grieving: you can't rush it. You have to let patience and perseverance work itself out in you, at the deepest heart level. Quick fixes and instant success just don’t have the same effect.

 

4. Rest, for crying out loud.

 

God rested. Are you better than God?

 

Rest means two things: a cessation of work, and a cessation of striving. If you can't jump off the striving treadmill, you're a dead duck. You will run out of inspiration, energy, and hope. Do you work hard? Yes. Do you preserve? Yes. But you must make sure your soul knows the difference between "I'm in charge here!" and "I am embracing my mission!" Rest is what keeps you from erring here. Rest reminds your soul that somebody else is in charge. THANK GOD.

 

5. Don't make excuses about what you do.

 

People will line up in droves to point out why you can't/shouldn't/better not be a mom who works or does ministry. They'll tell you what you're missing, what your children are missing, and what your spouse is missing. I mean, really, you can turn any direction and somebody is chunking a stone at your head. Here’s the thing: the world needs more women who are brave enough to blaze the new path! God is infinitely creative, and so is his plan for your life. What’s really phenomenal is that your calling as a working person and your calling as a mother will not compete. They will complement and strengthen each other in ways you might not be able to imagine just yet. It doesn't mean it will be easy or a cake walk or the terrain won't dip into a pretty dark valley, but if this is your mission, do it, and rely on grace to cover it all.

 

6. Embrace the stunning creativity of it.

 

I mean really, only a God who writes individual stories for every single human (see Psalm 139) and who breathes stars into existence and created peacocks and duck billed platypuses could fathom a job where mothers are tending to their babies and caring for their family by selling things on screens and touching lives on social media, or doing any one of the amazing jobs moms who work do. The beautiful collage of diverse stories, backgrounds, talents, and lives is incredible! It feels messy and uncomfortable, but everything good is on the other side of hard, so just lean into it, relax down into it, and watch what he births in you. I can’t wait to see your story.

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Finally Accepting Yourself as a Working Mom // Work at home Mom Stories (Part Three)

valuable advice from successful work at home mom, Chaunie Brusie

Chaunie Brusie is an author and freelance writer. She teaches women how to build successful writing careers, and is the mother of 4 children. We talked to Chaunie about how she got started, and what's she learned as a work at home mom. 

This is part three of our Work at Home Moms Stories series. Part One. Part Two.) 


Stand For Mom: Have you always been a work at home mom (WAHM)? 

Chaunie: I’ve been a WAHM since I was pregnant with my first daughter in college. I worked as a nurse for a long time to support our growing family (I had four kids in six years), but slowly built up a writing career on the side. It took me six years, but I officially traded in my scrubs for full-time freelance writing in 2014, after my 4th baby was born, and I’m happy to report I now make more from writing than I would have as a nurse!  I write primarily on motherhood for sites like Babble and Mom.me, and I have a published book about young motherhood and unplanned pregnancy called Tiny Blue Lines. I have a novel in progress that I hope I will finish this year, but again, four kids.

SFM: What's the most important thing you've learned as a work at home mom? 

C: It might sound silly, but it’s been very important in my life as the primary at-home parent of a lot of little kids: I’ve had to finally learn to give myself permission to love working and accept that it’s the way I operate. Why would I feel ashamed about the way God made me?

Working, and enjoying working, is not something to be ashamed of and I feel like that’s something I struggled with so long. I also run a writing course for moms to help encourage them to build up a writing career while having young kids at home because if anyone knows how hard it is to be in the trenches and try to connect enough brain cells together to write, it’s me and I feel you mamas, but I still believe it’s worth it and possible to make it happen.

I think so much of what holds us back is what we think we “should” be doing as moms and when you give yourself permission to do what you were made to do? Amazing things can happen.

 

You can visit Chaunie's website here.
Learn more about her course for freelance writers here.
Find her on Instagram here.
And purchase a copy of Tiny Blue Lines here

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The Math of Working From Home

the math of working from home

My son was eleven months old when my husband got word that he'd found a job, after nine months of searching. I was working full time, racing back home twice a day to nurse my baby, who wouldn't take a bottle.

When my boss offered to help me find a transfer to our new city, I blurted out, "I'm not working anymore!" Because glory, hallelujah, I finally was getting what I'd longed and cried for since I first saw those tiny blue lines. I was going to be a stay at home mom. A few weeks later, I sat sobbing on the bathroom floor of our brand new (to us) duplex. The sunshine poured in the huge windows, the smell of fresh paint wafted on the AC, and my baby screamed in his bed.

All I could think was, "daycare could help him nap."

He did learn to nap, eventually, sort of, and we gave him a sister. I joined the ranks of a direct sales company, but it didn't take off as fast as I'd hoped, and by the end of Christmas and the beginning of a new year, we were broke. Credit cards maxed out, no way we could pay for our groceries next month broke, and oh look! We're pregnant again! When my friend called to tell me she had started a new business, and would I like a job--well, yes. Yes, I would like a job.

 

I took the job because it was the only way to make it all work, and all these years later, that’s still the only way to make it all work. We need the income, my kids need me in their lives all day (or maybe I need them in mine?). It's algebra, and I'm managing the variables.

x = staying at home and b = working. Now, we solve for y.

It was fun at first--being a work at home mom. New parts of my brain awakened, parts that hadn't been used in years, and I grew closer to my friend and boss because of our frequent strategy sessions. It was straight up luxurious to talk to someone about something other than time outs and baby food.

 

And then--then it was hard. My hours increased. My children increased in number and age and needs. It was lonely.

It's hard to find new friends when you don't have time for playdates.

I--we, work at home moms--do the changing of the diapers and the feeding of the babies, the cleaning-cooking-warming-up of the chicken nuggets. We do the podcasting and free webinars while we fold the laundry, trying to gain the MBA we sure as heck don't have time for now. We do the facebook-pinterest-instagram-snapchat-periscope-twitter scheduling in between naptimes to find the new customers, because we own this business. This business is ours.

 

Our kids need new shoes this summer, and money doesn’t grow on trees, so we do the outreaching, the sucking up of our pride to approach friends about potential business opportunities, the hustling late at night when everyone else has gone to bed.

 

We do the "muting" of the phone while hollering "QUIET" while we're on a business call, as if that really made a difference, the locking of the bathroom door so we can get one email off before closing, please dear Lord, and the pressing "play" on waaaay too many episodes of Dino Trux. We begin almost every email with, "I'm so sorry for the delay,” but we’re too busy to notice.

 

We do the canceling of playdates because the work load is too heavy, the wistful glances at the moms who have afternoons wide open, the searching glances among new faces, hungry for someone who understands.

 

We do long distance conference calls with children on our laps, client calls while nursing, typing away single-handedly.

 

And we're here! We're present! We fail at everything--and nothing, all at the same time. We're determined to not let a dream die, we're determined to earn the money, we're determined to be here, in this house, with these children, because we've decided that in here, with them, in these walls that close us in, it’s a thousand times better than any other place.

 

Nobody's singing our praises or rallying around us or chipping likenesses of us from granite, but they should be, because what we're doing is God's work. We're laying it down, day by day, rights to "private" time and long, hot showers, rights to sanity and expectations of normal, and we're doing it for love of our children. The love of our families.

 

We try. We try really, really hard. The algebra changes every time, but we rework our equations, and we keep on solving for y. And we find it. We try, and sometimes the math takes a long, long time, but we always find it. Eventually, we find y.

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Work at Home mom stories // what lauren white learned (part one)

Work at Home Mom Lauren White from White Loft shares her journey.

Lauren White opened her first Etsy shop when her oldest was 18 months old. Today, White Loft has become a successful online shop that regularly partners with Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids, and has been featured on ToriSpelling.com. We talked to Lauren about how she got started, and how she’s grown as a mom and business woman.

This is part one in our Work at Home Mom Stories series. See part two here and part three here


SFM: What does life look like as a WAHM (work at home mom)? 

Lauren: In a nutshell, I make growth charts of all kinds! Instead of making marks on a door frame, I craft artful pieces to hang on your wall — and take with you when you move! Staining wood, numbering canvas and burlap, packaging, etc.  

And of course the fun stuff like marketing, accounting, customer service, etc.! I am mostly a one-woman show… all from my garage and part-studio/part-playroom in Austin.

SFM: Beginnings are so much fun, but they can be scary, too!  How did you get started? 

Lauren: Starting w/ a nudge from a friend, I opened an Etsy shop from my dining room table in February 2013. Originally, I was making crib sheets because I wanted flannel sheets for my then 18 month old son, and they were pricey and hard to find locally. I threw in one growth chart for grins. Slowly, that became my best seller and I phased out the sheets, etc.

I basically had taken over the dining room at this point, and was staining every piece in my garage. I would go to Lowe's or Home Depot for every order I got and individually pick out each piece.  

Fast forward 4 years…I have a second child (daughter who is 2.5, and my son is 5.5), we have a new house with a better layout for my work, and White Loft is my full time gig!

 
Work at Home Mom Lauren White from White Loft shares her journey.
 

I now purchase lumber in bulk on a quarterly basis from a local supplier; going into a warehouse--gloves and all--to sift through many hundreds of pieces of lumber; claiming only about 35% of what I look at.  

Then, it’s trucked back to my garage for the rest of the magic. Also in the last 4 years, I have developed new products including a canvas version (much easier on the shipping!) as well as burlap, and I now can personalize any item!

I have formed a local partnership with Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids, as well as having some TV time on KXAN and being featured on ToriSpelling.com.  


SFM: Being a WAHM is a really incredible mix of exciting and scary--and everything in between! What have learned during the last four years?

Lauren: That I will never be able to do it all—or be *perfect* at one particular thing, but I love watching my company and kids grow at the same time. Once I made peace with that idea, things go a lot easier.

There is definitely some frustration that comes with the territory of giving everyone--including the business--the attention they need. There are some days with dedicated focus, and other days I feel like I’m brushing my teeth and eating Oreos!

I try to manage time as best I can, considering one child is still at home and I have a very active 5 year old. When I see a window of time, I try to grab it and go! And I’m so thankful for when naptime comes around each day.  Sometimes this way of work means late nights, and a LOT on the weekend when my husband is home. I try to ask for help when needed, even if it’s punching holes in note cards, or cutting ribbons—it’s all part of the process, and people honestly are glad to do it! My son is great at helping me count safety pins (used for the canvas charts), and my daughter thinks everything needs to be measured!

 
Work at Home Mom Lauren White from White Loft shares her journey.
 

SFM: Any advice for other WAHMs?

Lauren: I can say, hard work and hustle pays off. I am beyond grateful to be growing a business—all while being close to my family.

Oh, and… joy!

Joy is one thing that makes the “work at home” thing easier. It means while I may not have perfectly branded Instagram account (yet!), or meals planned by the week—I get to take my daughter to gymnastics and pick my son up from school and get to work on things I LOVE.  It’s a mindset.

And yes, there is frustration in ALL parts of work and home, so I try to approach everything with a bit of joy.   And remind myself, I have the courage, patience and drive to make it all come together.   

I just follow the sign on my desk that says “YOU CAN”… :)

You can follow along with Lauren and learn more about White Loft here:
Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Shop White Loft here


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