A few years ago, when my oldest was born I decided that I needed to figure out a way to both contribute to our family and be available for my kiddos, whenever they needed me.
It took a bit of trial and error before I found my sweet spot. I worked with Apple, Inc. as a tech advisor from home briefly and also tried my hand at a couple of different sewing businesses.
None of the options I tried seem to work. Either they were not a good fit for my family or just not a good fit for me. Let’s just say, sewing is a great hobby for me to do twice a year…
Fast forward to starting my VA business over 3 years ago (yay!). We found the best of both worlds for us. I was working and contributing to our family but had the flexibility of schedule I needed for our busy life.
And then…. insert the surprise baby! (Kiddo #4 for our family between myself and my husband) And I was freaking out. How in the WORLD was I supposed to have a newborn, keep up my business, not go insane, and you know… sleep?
We welcomed our son in April 2016 and a lot has changed over this past year.
1. I work from home a lot more than I used to.
One of the awesome things about working for yourself in an online business is you can work from anywhere! I used to frequent my local Panera and sit there for hours working away.
Well… I have a 1 year old now so that doesn’t so much happen. I had to get used to finding a place at home where I could focus and get things done.
It took some trial and error, but I’ve gotten my brain trained now to where when I sit down to work I can easily get into work mode and tune out the rest of the house. It’s really easy to get distracted by dirty dishes, laundry, nice weather, and general ‘not feeling it’ days.
I’ve gotten myself into a good routine of getting up and getting ready for work, even though I don’t leave the house anymore. It really helps to get my brain in gear and get me ready for my ‘commute’ to my favorite work spot in my home.
2. I narrowed down my scope of services.
This is something that I think naturally evolves for anyone, even for those without major life changes happening while running a business. But after being a generalist virtual assistant for a couple of years, I have developed a keen awareness of where my strengths are for services and also what I like and don’t like to do.
This has enabled me to specialize in work that I not only enjoy but I’m also best at.
For me, I really enjoy the technical aspects of online business, setting up launches, courses through Thinkific and Teachable, building websites with Squarespace and helping with email service provider needs for clients through ConvertKit, MailChimp, etc.
3. I became a Certified ConvertKit Migration Expert
I realized how much I love ConvertKit. The platform is incredible, with customer service second to none. I love them so much I decided to seize an opportunity I had to become a Certified Migration Expert with ConvertKit.
This mean I now have a lot of different things to offer (like 30 days free of ConvertKit to anyone who is kind enough to sign up through my special affiliate link). I’m also able to spend more of my time dedicated to learning more specifically about best practices for email marketing, technical setup, etc.
I also get to work with awesome entrepreneurs and bloggers all over the world! It’s also been really satisfying working with a platform and team with ConvertKit that I know has a great deal of integrity and goes over an above to serve it’s customers.
4. I nailed down a great task and project management system
Finding a good solution to task management that works for almost any situation is like finding a perfect date planner. It’s next to impossible!
I’ve tried Asana, Trello, Wunderlist, Evernote (which isn’t really for task management), Tick Tick, DaPulse, Basecamp, and I can’t tell you how many others. None of them really felt right. I liked some things about them and other features drove me nuts.
But after having my son, I realized that my system of managing projects and tasks had to be more succinct and I started again on my search.
I stumbled across a Trello course with an intro video I just couldn’t pass up, called Trello for Business. It’s by Think Creative Collective and I LOVE how the course walks you through basically any scenario you could think of using a task management system for.
What I like about using Trello is that it is completely customizable to fit your organizational needs.
(If you’re thinking about checking into Trello, seriously check out this course.
I’m not an affiliate of theirs, I just think their course rocks!)
5. I learned having a consistent schedule is crucial to sanity (and success too I suppose!)
I really love having so much flexibility by having my own business, but I’ve learned that too much flexibility can become a problem. There’s got to be a balance. And being proactive is always better than being reactive.
For me, I’m coming up on summer and I’ll have anywhere from 2 to 4 kiddos home from school! I’m already crafting my tentative working schedule with lots of play included for both me and the kids so that I have a proactive plan.
I know that the kids and I will both need lots of outside time and we won’t want to be stuck at home all summer. So I’m working on a tentative schedule that allows me enough quiet alone time to work while still getting sleep and not keeping my kiddos cooped up like caged monkeys all summer! (More updates to come on this I’m sure!)
So a quick glimpse into how things have changed for me since having my son last year. I’ve learned that it IS possible to have a baby at home, not go insane, and actually be productive. It just takes some realistic and objective planning and also flexibility for when things don’t work out quite how you plan.