As a mom, a wife, and a home-based business owner, I realize that it can sometimes get difficult navigating those blurry lines between time management and priorities. A few more minutes of work automatically equal a few less minutes with your loved ones. A late-nighter with an iced latte and your computer can quickly become a waste of a planned movie night with your spouse.
Lately, when editing photos, reading articles and tutorials online, managing social media sites and fulfilling product orders, I’ve found myself telling my exuberant, story-telling 7-year-old to “hang on just a second while mommy finishes something”. Or instead of coming to change the channel each time my indecisive 3-year-old wants to watch something new, I make her wait a few moments while I put the finishing touches on an email I’m sending out.
I sort of glossed these moments over in my mind and attributed them to the everyday woes of the work-at-home mom. Something that comes along with achieving your dreams. Who wouldn’t want to work from home and get to spend your entire day with your kids while still bringing in an income large enough to support them? Sounds ideal, right? So, what’s a little sacrifice if it means achieving your dreams and paving the way to financial freedom?
I realize that I consciously put extraordinary amounts of time into my business. The first thing I do in the morning is check my email, and the last thing I do before crawling into bed in the wee hours of the night, after a long day of sitting in front of my computer, is checking it again. Ultimately, all of this work is great for my business. It’s growing, flourishing and all of the dreams and hopes I’ve had for my career are starting to come to fruition. Great! Right?
But at what cost? How often is “too often”, when it comes to making your children wait for you to meet a deadline, or finish an email, or tie up a blog post before you get around to watching that movie with them? How often is “too often” when it comes to looking up from your computer to realize that your husband kissed the kids and tucked them into bed 45 minutes ago? How often is “too often” when it comes to your child getting upset and asking why you have to get on the computer “again”? How long before time starts completely passing you by as you sit mindlessly staring at your computer screen?
I received a wake up call today. It came in the form of a parent-teacher conference. My son’s teachers told me a lot of what I already knew. That I have a bright, talented, witty little boy who loves chatting with his friends much more than he enjoys writing. I knew that. He excels at math and thoroughly enjoys Science. I knew that, too. The wake-up call came after that, when I asked the teachers what I could do at home to help him get more excited about writing. The teacher’s answer was simple: listen to him. Let him tell you stories, and listen for the way he’s telling them. Ask him how he could use more descriptive words to make his stories have more detail. Ask him to tell you about his favorite shows and listen for the order in which he tells you the plot points. And I kid you not, my eyes began to well up as soon as she had spoken her first word. Listen. That’s all it takes. And something I had been seriously slacking on. How often had I been making him “hold that thought” while I finished reading or writing some completely unimportant article or email? How often had I put my work ahead of my cherished and beloved time with my babies? How often had I traded a movie night with my amazing husband for a late-night editing session? The answer: way too damn often.
Now, don’t get me wrong, my love for my business is strong, it really is. I’m so blessed to have it and I’m so thankful each day that I can do what I love and have turned it into a career. I’m so grateful to all of the amazing people who have supported my business and helped me mold it into what it is. But my three main supporters? My wonderful, brilliant kids and my amazingly supportive husband? They are the biggest blessing I could ever hope to have and no more will they pay the price for a flourishing business. I am a mom first. A wife second. And a business owner last. My children are the reason I was put on this earth. They’re the reason and motivation behind everything I do. I have a handsome husband who loves to treat me like a princess and would be happy and completely content to spend all his waking hours with me. Without his love and support my business would not even exist. So today I make the vow that I am going to be the wife and mommy they deserve. No more split focus between a computer screen and life with my loves. There has got to be a happy medium and I aim to find it.
Starting today, I am going to be implementing some pretty strict business hours for myself. During the hours of 8:30am to 2:30pm, I will be Morgan Burks, business owner. I will be emailing. I will be facebooking. I will be designing. I will be editing. But from 2:30pm to my babies’ 9pm bedtime: I am mommy. I will be snuggling. I will be story-telling. I will be memory-making. I will be listening.
After I tuck my little loves in at 9pm, on nights my husband works, I may be online. On nights my husband is off? I will be with him. My time is valuable and I need to invest it accordingly.
Now, this is not to say I won’t check in online every so often, or set aside a few extra hours for a deadline, but as far as returning emails or being available for immediate response, these business hours are going to be my guideline.
And to any other work-at-home moms: “too often” may sneak up you. Be vigilant and firm. Stay on guard and take control of your time and your priorities. If you get that nagging feeling telling you that your time management might need a little maintenance: listen.
Lots of love,