Tips for Working at Home with Kids, Part II – The Kids are Awake!

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Last week I gave a few suggestions for how I utilize naps and bedtimes to get my most important work done. But we all know that naptime is not enough time to run a creative business. While we love the flexibility working from home can bring, we can’t accomplish everything while the kiddos are asleep.

So here are a few ways I have tried to synchronize my kids’ needs with my work demands.

The most important thing for me is to  stick to a schedule! I have always been a type A personality. I love making lists, itineraries, and schedules. But for some reason, that all kind of went out of the window when I had kids. Children have a way of turning all schedules on their heads, so I sort of gave up on schedules for awhile there. However, I have found that a well-thought out schedule can be sooo helpful for both the children and the parents in a work at home situation. Here are a few scheduling tips that have worked for me:

  1. During breakfast, while the kids are safely occupied chowing down their oatmeal, I will quickly post a previously prepped and planned update to social media. I find I get better responses on social media if I post in the morning, so this is the perfect time. Because I have already taken the photos and done the legwork during nap time, this will only take a few minutes (unless I get caught in the rabbit hole that is Instagram!).
  2. I set aside thirty minutes each morning for “craft time”. I set my kids up with an array of coloring books, crayons, watercolors, and stickers. I let them go to town making anything they want, and I will be creating right along with them. Because this is a short period of time, I use it to practice flourishing or mix sample watercolors for a project I’m working on. Nothing too big, but something that needs to get done. It’s a great way to spend time with my kids and encourage creativity, while still getting something done. 😉
  3. Return emails during lunch! Again, my kids are generally ravenous wolves at mealtimes so I have a good chunk of time to use the computer without fear of some little hand accidentally erasing my entire document (not that that’s happened before…).

These things probably seem small, but it is amazing what a somewhat consistent schedule can do for me, my kids, and my work.

Now, if I could only hire a maid for everything else that needs to get done… 😉

I would love to know how you manage everything that needs to get done while working from home! Leave a comment below and let’s help each other!

 

4 Tips for Working at Home with Kids – How to Maximize Nap Time!

 

If you’re a mom and a creative, you understand that mixing work and family can be a delicate balance. It’s hard to feel like you are getting anything done or doing a good job in either aspect! Flexibility and self-forgiveness are key.

While I by no means have everything figured out, I am always interested in seeing how other people do it. So in the spirit of community, here is a “typical day in the life of me.”

My day is basically divided into two categories: 1) the kids are asleep, 2) the kids are awake.  Those two factors drive my schedule.

The hours when the kids are sleeping are precious! This is where the real productivity happens so I know I need to work smart! Here are a few ways I try to maximize this time:

  1. Style and photograph product for use in social media. While styling social media photos I have stuff all over the place! So there definitely can’t be little hands stealing my ribbon or crawling into the picture. I find it’s best to style and take as many photos as possible during nap time while the light is good. That way I can do a little editing and posting while the kids are awake but playing by themselves.
  2. Make high priority phone calls. More casual calls can be made while the kids are playing, but for those really important calls, I find it best to have no distractions.
  3. Write! Writing doesn’t come naturally to me so takes a lot of concentration. If I try to write while the kids are awake I get so lost in my thoughts that I don’t notice them emptying my entire box of Kleenex or getting their head stuck in the chair. I like to write early in the morning before the kids wake up or during nap time. This hour or so gives me enough time to get all the thoughts swirling in my head down on the page.
  4. Work! That seems a little obvious, right? I will be the first to admit that when my kids are awake, not much work is getting done. If I try to work on something that takes longer than 10 minutes, there is a 97% chance that my productivity will be thwarted by their suddenly urgent need of fruit snacks. So I use the evenings after the kids go to bed, when I have the longest chunk of time, to work in the more permanent mediums (ink, paint, watercolor, etc).

While my days are far from the world’s ideals, for me, they are perfection. I love being able to be an active part of my children’s lives while still pursuing the things I’m passionate about.

I would love to hear what you do to stay organized and productive while working from home! Leave your thoughts below!

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!

First let me tell you, I am a beginner. I just want to get that out there in the open! I am a beginner at a lot of things. I am a beginner at blogging, at calligraphy, at motherhood (and adulthood really). Beginnings can be scary. Beginnings often mean things that are unknown, unfamiliar and even uncomfortable. But beginnings can also be exciting! It can mean a clean slate, a fresh perspective, and a new adventure!

So I would like to invite you to join me on this new adventure of beginnings. This blog will specifically follow my journey in calligraphy, but I’m sure some of my other beginnings will find their way in as well. This will be a positive place where I can share insights, tips and inspiration. I hope you follow along! Celebrate with my triumphs and laugh with me at my mistakes! And please share your journey with me! Comment below and we’ll make it through these crazy beginnings together!

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4 Steps to Overcome Fear and Just Get Started!

Last Christmas I got my husband the best present ever! (If I can toot my own horn for a sec.) Which little to my knowledge was really the best Christmas present to me! A beginners calligraphy set. I was amazed at how fun it was to practice the many different strokes and eventually string a number of them together to create a piece of work, art really.

Between a few months of practicing and an awesome workshop it didn’t take long until I was neck deep in gouache, nibs, and paper. Excited about this new talent of mine I eagerly started filling requests from friends and family for prints, envelopes, invitations, menus, and more. This is when I realized I am a lion!

A fierce, powerful…cowardly lion!

I suddenly felt very exposed. I was still learning and felt very inadequate. All of what I considered my imperfect art was now on display for the world to see! I became very self conscious and it was difficult for me to move forward. All of sudden it took me an eternity to finish a project. I didn’t want to do it because I was afraid of my inadequacies; would I have enough time to produce products, would anything even sell, would anyone like my art? These questions almost paralyzed me and I have heard many beginners confess similar things.

One of my favorite quotes on fear comes from Elise and Scott Grice at @heysweatpea

“I want you to know fear isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s the answer. It’s your northern star, pointing you towards what matters to you most.

Pushing through fear requires stepping into the unknown. The unknown means change.  We won’t know what or how we need to change until we push into the fear. Until we take that step, see how far our boundaries are pushed, and then adjust to make room for the new opportunities that are now open to us.

So how did I overcome fear and actually get started?? Well, I’m still working on it, but here are a few things I’ve learned so far.

  1. Create opportunities for yourself! Offer your services to the type of people you would like to work with. If you don’t want to work on a real-life project, make one up for yourself. Create a problem you can solve or a demand you can fill.
  2. Give yourself a deadline. This one is sooo important! I know how easy it is to keep putting something off because you don’t feel ready or it isn’t the right time, or (insert your favorite rationalization here). I am not saying to produce willy nilly or put out subpar work. You definitely need to think about timing, your resources, and your audience’s reaction. But give yourself time to sit down and plan out your strategy. Then set a date! Set small goals and deadlines that will keep you on track. Deadlines are so important in not letting the cowardly lion take over and hide your work forever!
  3. Say yes to opportunities that are presented to you, even if especially if they scare you. I just had my own experience with this and will be sharing it soon (my first stylized shoot!!). Take that step to explore where your boundaries are and where they can be stretched.
  4. Don’t wait until things are perfect! If you wait until things are perfect you will probably never start! You’ll never get anything out there because there are always things to improve on! I have had a really hard time with this step. Case in point – this blog! I would love to have a beautiful, interactive website  with perfect branding and thousands of followers. But those things take time and resources to build. But like I said, if you don’t start with something, you won’t have anything to build upon.

And so consider this my first brick. I am right there with you, just getting started in this big world of fine writing and curvy fonts known as calligraphy. But I am so excited to be here as a fellow traveler, a former cowardly lion turned travel companion extraordinaire, to talk with, ask questions to, and consult with on the yellow brick road to our Sumi Ink covered Emerald City!