Theresa Lear Levine picture

Overcoming Work From Home Back-to-School Overwhelm

Hello, hello, how’s everybody doing today? Oh, I’m excited about today. And also worried because it’s such a big topic, I’m going to try to be concise because this is a multiple episodes sort of thing.

But today, I want to talk about the people who I tend to work with the most other mompreneurs entrepreneurial women like me, and the complexities of us trying to build and scale our businesses, while we’re simultaneously raising our families and trying to maintain and build upon our family values without having that be sacrificed.

And it is such a complex balancing act. And it’s worth it to.

So today, I want to talk about some of those challenges, especially as we are finishing summer, some of us are already done with our summer and already in the back to school season. But for us here in Maryland, we don’t go back to school until after Labor Day.

So we had a little bit more time, but I can already feel all the things that are coming. And I think it’s really important to acknowledge that and also to build your processes and things around that.

Because the people I work with primarily are work from home entrepreneurs. And that means that everything pretty much is happening in the same place. You know, you’re taking care of the kids, you’re you know, if you’re in a marriage, that’s you know, where were the things happen, you know, with your spouse, that’s where they happen with your kids, that’s where they happen with your work, there’s really no escape.

And I know for me, sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed, or like I can’t be as present either in my business or with my family, whichever it is that I’m needing to be more present in. Sometimes I actually have to get out of the house in order to make that work.

And I have been known to go work in my car at like Park and rides or parking lots, especially during, you know, lockdown seasons, when we couldn’t just like go to a coffee shop, which is what I used to like to do when I was able to I mean, we’re not always able to do that, as work from home moms, sometimes we don’t have coverage to help us to get out of our headspace and out of our physical space.

That’s, you know, holding us back. And also, I find that when I really want to have great connection time with my family, sometimes the best way to do that is just to leave the work at home and go to the park or go out for a meal or just get out of the house since it’s where everything’s happening.

And we always have a lot of pressure on us whether it’s because dishes and laundry need to be done or we have a project we want to work on, or because we want to be doing something and it’s just totally the wrong time because of either the time of day or what the family needs or so on and so forth. Like I said, we have a very complex dance that we do as moms in business working from home. So
I just wanted to kind of talk about some different things that might be helpful today.

And also I will be offering some resources in the show notes that might be helpful as well. So check that out if you want to download some things that would be beneficial to you as a mompreneur.
So I know on top of the general complexity is of you know what we deal with on a day to day basis.
The Back to School season ramps things up. I know that in the last couple of weeks with preschool registrations for my youngest. I literally spent an entire like business work day doing paperwork and taking care of things that needed to be scheduled or submitted just for preschool. And then I know there’ll be tons of paperwork and electronic things to do when my other start.

For those of you who don’t know, this year is crazy for us with school for the kids. We have a preschooler and elementary schooler, a middle schooler and high school or this year, and of course, none of their schedules are the same, but we do have a few like overlapping hours of school.

So should everything go forward as scheduled, which is also one of those things that we just have to roll with right now. We never know, you know are things gonna go virtual Are we going to be able to be in person, what’s going to happen, all of this contributes to our, our stress and our uncertainty.

And these are great things to use Emotional Freedom Technique on as well. But should things go as you know, optimally scheduled, then I will have some hours, most days of the week that I can dedicate to things that really do require good concentration, and the ability to separate myself out from my family. And that’s actually really exciting to me, although it’s also bittersweet because it’s the end of an era of having my youngest at home with me all the time.

And, you know, as moms, we feel that we feel that in our hearts and our souls, we feel that that growth and that change, and that end of an era, and sometimes it shows up as mom guilt. And sometimes it shows up as wondering, hey, am I am I making the most of the time that I have?

Am I my checking the boxes, am I doing everything right? And those are also things that are great to acknowledge and look into further and just just examine and make sure that you’re feeling the way that you want to about what’s presenting itself in your life, but also that you’re not putting things off. You know, so often I know that people will feel like they’re in a season of their life where they can’t be doing the work that they want. And there’s such a fine line between procrastination and prioritization.

And you need to feel into that sometimes. Because, you know, it’s, you know, if you have a heavy work schedule, and you have family commitments, and then you kind of have this, this general stress, because you haven’t really achieved anything substantial, then, you know, you start kind of battling yourself on both of those fronts on prioritization and procrastination, you know, like, are you really prioritizing things?

Or, you know, what, what are you making it important to accomplish? You know, and sometimes that means, you know, seeing, are you delaying things? Or are you arranging things because procrastination is when you’re kind of like really just kind of postponing something. And prioritization is arranging you know, it’s, it’s figuring a way to work things out and make them happen.

And both are intentional behaviors, in the sense that it’s something you do as opposed to something done to you. So be aware of that as you go through this season, I think I’ll probably do an entire other episode on you know, procrastination versus prioritization.

But it comes up for us as mom so I’m just kind of shining the light on it, even if minimally right now. And so you know, as we get back to school and everything, just we have to be able to go with the flow and we have to be able to kind of make those switches and those changes whether that means we’re working during different hours because of school schedules.

Or you know, we have to dedicate a little bit more time to the kids because they need help with homework or they need help you know, socially adjusting to things or what have you. So just try to be as flexible as you can I mean as moms flexibility is so key for us.

But you know, there’s there’s a lot of tips that I think can help and that’s what I’d like to talk into a little bit today. And you know, one of the things is just realizing that perfection doesn’t really have its place if you’re going to be successful as both a mom and a businesswoman because we have so much to do that we just have to we have to realize that good is good enough and and be okay with that and take that that massive imperfect action so that we can be moving forward and I think you know, part of that Gosh, I mean if you if you watch the video version of my podcast, you will see I have no makeup on today.

I am just sweatshirt my workout clothes on because that’s how I’m doing after this. And it’s a realization acceptance that I can either you know make everything pretty my backdrop and my myself and have beautiful video, or I can concentrate on the fact that audio is the main focus of a podcast and that’s what I’m delivering and I also am going to make the most of my day cuz I’m going to get my workout in as soon as I’m done recording this and when I don’t try to make everything perfect, I can get so much more done. All right.

So people always ask me about balancing things.

And I don’t truly believe that you can get into a place where every day has this perfect balance. Sure, we have some golden days where it feels like we, we covered all the bases and everything was just beautiful.

But we have more often days that feel a little unbalanced. And that’s okay, something has to give, whether it’s the housework, or your, your marriage on that particular day, or your time with your kids, or your time on your business, or her, your, you know, time socially with other people, or, you know, your appearance, something has to give, I’m not saying to neglect those things, but I’m saying that they might get a little bit less attention from you, or a little bit more attention for you. I think that’s where the balance comes in. I think when people try to achieve a perfect balance all the time, they end up feeling like a failure.

And it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, really, instead of just, you know, realize that you have to prioritize and that you can’t give your best to everything simultaneously.
I think also, depending on the ages of your kids, your involvement with them, and the ways that you involve them in what you do, are really important. You know, a lot of kids, when they grow up alongside a mom that works at home, can understand what they’re doing, if we let them in on it, instead of getting you know, snippy and
rude or trying to separate ourselves, you know, sometimes there’s business that we can do right alongside of them, you know, while they’re eating their breakfast, or sometimes, you know, my, my youngest ones just like it when I’m sitting next to them while they’re watching a show or something.

And I might be able to be working on some things that don’t require major attention. And they like that I’m there and I can still, you know, they can cuddle up next to me, or I can help them to find the next thing they want to watch. Or we can have little snippets of conversation in between.

And we’re both very happy that way. Not all work allows you to do it that way. But when there are times when I have some things to work on that I’m like, Hey, I can do this alongside my kids.

And we can, we can have a little bit of fun together while I’m doing it. Sure, why not right. And I think it’s also important if you have people that work for you, that you hire people that are also flexible, people that you can trust to work hard, even in your absence, or, you know, when you have days that you really just need to, like, tend to your family, or tend to other things that need to be done. I mean, gosh, when we’re taking care of our home, you know, there’s housework, there’s house cleaning, there’s meals to prep, there’s mail to take care of, there’s just all the aspects of your regular life outside of your business, there’s doctor’s appointments for you and your family, there’s all sorts of things.

So sometimes you just need to and I find it kind of cyclical for me, I can spend several days pretty immersed in work, but at some point, I almost need to take an entire day off just to tend to all of those other things I just mentioned and make sure that those ducks are in a row and that they stay you know those wheels stay greased and moving ahead as well as my business.

And I find that it’s easier to just take a day to deal with those things. Usually it’s at the end of the week, like a Thursday or Friday tends to be when when I do that kind of stuff, and then head back into more productive work days. So for a while, I would try to kind of segment my day, and you know, do a little bit of family stuff, do a little bit of housework, do a little bit of regular work.

And it was just it was hard for me, both from perspective of ADHD and just the perspective of flow
usually takes me a good 20 to 40 minutes to get into feeling like I’m in the flow with whatever it is that I’m doing. So shifting from totally different things throughout the day, really hindered my productivity versus just taking a day and saying, you know, hey, you know, today my assistants can handle the work that needs to be done, I can be confident that things are still moving forward in my business because I have wonderful, hard working flexible ladies that worked for me.

And I can take the day to attend to all the other important areas of my life without having to attend to that. And maybe on those days, I just kind of check in on you know, the, the apps and platforms that we use to work together just to make sure that they’re going along, okay, and I can really rest easy and feel good about things. But you know, that also speaks to the fact that if you don’t have people helping you and your business is in a place where you can you can
For that, and it makes sense financially, to hire somebody for a few hours or full time or whatever it is that you need to allow yourself that time as well. onboarding a new employee is intensive, and doing it right is worth its weight in gold.

So I know that when I on boarded my, my current full time assistant last year, I, I spent about a month really just lining her upright teaching her my processes, sharing a lot of things back and forth, that would make her understanding me and the way I work and the help that I need a lot better. And it has been, it’s been priceless. Because we work together so well.

And we communicate so much better because of the way that I invested in her and educated her about my business from day one, even though it took a lot of my time. And sometimes it felt like Oh God, I have all the other things to do. But in in teaching her now there’s so much that she can do for me that I don’t have to do it is freed up so much time and headspace for me, I highly recommend doing it right when you hire somebody.

And it helps them to build their confidence and to be able to do more for you, too. So some other tips that help are definitely trying to find ways to separate your business from your family life.

If you have the ability to have an office within your home, do it highly recommend this is the when we moved to this house last year, it’s the first house where I’ve had an office where I can close the door, which makes it great for my work and also makes it great for leaving my work behind.

Now I realize plenty of people do not have that luxury within their house to have a specific space just for doing business. So if that’s you, then try to find a way to section it out a bit, whether it’s having a box that you like put your laptop or whatever you need to work into, so that you can close it, or just being able to close your laptop and put it away. Everybody’s business is different.

Some people you know, a notebook and a laptop is all it takes to run their business. And that’s very easy to put away, or to put out of sight. Some people have more things. But whatever it is, if you can leave if you need to, like cover your desk, like throw a sheet over your desk done for now.

Just do something that can help you to feel like that’s off when you want to be on with your family time. And if there’s anything that you can do in the opposite direction, to really
mentally signal or physically signal that it is worked on, that can be helpful too. I know some people like to light a candle when they start work time and then blow it out when they’re done.
You may play music when you’re working or have some kind of a signal so that your kids know if they’re around. This is mommy’s work time.

And you can have different activities or things that they are or aren’t allowed to do during that time. And everybody can get into a routine. It kind of like training assistance and people that help you in your business. Your kids need to be educated so that they understand how to handle you working in the home as well. So that it works for everybody.

And they know when and how much you’re available throughout the day as you’re working. So, of course it’s you know, it goes without saying, but it also is often neglected that we have to take care of ourselves first. And we have to show people that we are doing that and that we
that we value our self care.

And I think that that is as important if not more important for moms. Because if we model for our kids, that we take care of everybody else first and that we run ourselves ragged, and that’s how it’s done. What do you think they’re gonna do later, we don’t want that. So I know that for me, that looks like
getting up and getting my workout in before my kids are awake. Or if they wake up while I’m working out. They know that that is mommy’s workout time and they are welcome to work out alongside of me or go play and that I will be done soon.

And I will be with them to help them get breakfast or whatever they need to start their day. It also looks like me taking time in the afternoon to meditate or take a short nap. Oftentimes both I swear by 15 to 30 minutes in the afternoon to just reset while laying in my bed.

Whether I am, you know, doing some guided hypnosis or a guided meditation, or listening to binaural beats, or whatever that time I put my earphones in, and I let the kids know because none of my kids really nap in beds at home anymore, I have a couple little fall asleep in the car from time to time, but that doesn’t really help me because that would not be a good time for me to fall asleep.

So they know hey, this is mommy time, this helps mommy recharge and be the best mom I can be. And sometimes before that time of day, I feel a little irritable, and I will let them know hey, you know, get a little edgy, I’m tired. I’ve done a lot already today.

And it’s time for me to go to go recharge to take some deep breaths to do around a bf t to meditate, whatever it is that I need at that moment. And for the most part, they respect that at this point, they know that is my routine, because I’ve shown them that.

And they also know why I do it because I share with them, you know what I’m feeling beforehand, or that it really helps me to, to re energize and to feel better.

And to get back into a place where I am
coming to everyone from love instead of agitation or frustration or a short fuse, which nobody wants. So they get it and I have seen them take themselves aside to give themselves something similar to and that just that makes me so very happy. Because I want them to learn to do things for themselves like that.

So that’s another thing you know, just making sure it doesn’t have to be a lot of time either. I know we’re show so we feel short on time, we all have the same amount of time. And when we get into the right mindset, we can realize that our time is always enough.

But when we are in a mindset that we don’t have enough time, we short ourselves often and we need to remember that time belongs to us first and then to everybody else, or we are not giving them our best. So you know keep your family in the loop about that your spouse if you have one, and make sure they know. Now it is important to compartmentalize time I know I talked about you’re taking a day for this or a day for that. But our our schedules as moms don’t often allow us to have an entire day for anything. And as we head back into school, there might be carpools or bus stops you need to be at or things you need to do at specific times. And being able to organize your day around those things is really helpful. Maybe you start laundry first thing in the morning.

And then when you’re home in the afternoon, that’s when it goes in the dryer and then the evening you fold it or something like that you have kind of a different flow for different things in your day and where they fit in. And you know that your kids are going to be home in the evenings or your kids are going to be doing extracurricular activities in the evenings.

Or you’re going to you know, handle dinner in a certain way or bedtimes in a certain way. So things need to be kind of compartmentalize to serve the day, and to make sure that you are able to set your next day up the day before because any good day, any day that flows well is planned and prepared for at least the night before.

So much like it takes time to set up an assistant or get people into different routines. It takes time to organize, and to either you know make lists or put things on your calendars, or discuss Sorry, my dog is coughing in the background, to organize all the different things and schedules within your family, because especially if you have kids in all different age ages doing all different things like I do, everybody has different places, they need to be different things that they’re prioritizing different things that you want to support, or nurture.

And being able to do that well does require sitting down and looking at your week, I often like to I mean, things are always on my digital calendar, and I add them as they come up.

But then usually at the end of the week, or Thursday or Friday, that is when I look at the week ahead, and I see you know, hey, are my husband and I able to cover whatever needs covering who’s doing this who’s doing that. Is there anything else that we need to schedule or do during the week? And if so, when are we going to do it? What are we going to eat for the upcoming week do we need to do grocery shopping, all the things are so much to handle.

And planning makes it easier, even though it often feels like a hassle to slow down for that. It’s usually you know, it’s an hour to two hours every week that I need to spend looking at the week ahead and figuring out what needs to be done. Now that also includes looking at my business and figuring out what things I’m going to be doing to move the needle there in the coming week as well.

And then integrating it all into my calendar, figuring out what my work hours are going to be figuring out what fun family activities will be doing throughout the week. All the things it’s
it’s a time commitment but it makes my time so much more productive than just flinging myself into the week and just seeing what happens. That’s like, awful, just like trying to nail jello to the wall around here, it’s, it makes me feel frustrated. And if you feel unproductive, it makes me feel out of alignment, it makes me feel like I have no idea what’s going on. And it makes me feel chaotic. taking that time helps me to center myself feeling grounded, and it is worth every single second that I put into it.

So you know, that is definitely a best tip. And, you know, one more best tip before I wrap this up, because I don’t want it to be too long. And we could literally, we could talk about this all day, couldn’t we?
There’s because there’s so many different ways to approach this.

And there’s so many different
ways this presents itself, depending on how many kids you have, what their ages are, what they’re involved in just all there’s so many things. So the other thing, and I’ve talked about this before, early mornings, they really do become non negotiable, when you are someone who is serious about having a big business, and also having big family values. And, you know, the, the night owl thing can work for some people. But just based on facts and science and everything, we are not at our best at the end of the day.

And we probably had to get up somewhat early no matter what. Getting up a little bit earlier, I have found over the years to be way easier than trying to stay up late. And you never know like if a kid is going to need something in the evening.

The younger kids sometimes or you know they have
they’re a little more emotional, or maybe they have trouble falling asleep. And with older kids, I feel like when the night hits, that’s like when they’ve been silent all day.

And that’s when they want to talk. So I don’t like leaving it up to chance that maybe I’ll be able to work in the evening. And for me, at least I’ve gotten so used to waking up between four and 5am that staying up late is hardly even a choice for me. But back in the day it was and I would you know, burn that Midnight Oil.

But then I was always kind of tired The next day, and I never felt organized. And it just everything felt kind of backwards. things feel so much more in alignment. For me, waking up early. You know being set the night before knowing Hey, in this early morning space, this is what I’m going to accomplish. And that that will be done before my kids put their feet on the floor and get out of bed.

That’s a hugely, I just feel successful, it feels really successful to start your day that way. And I recommend it. I’m not saying it’s easy at first, if you’re somebody that’s used to sleeping until you must get up to take care of your kids or you must get up to you know, start work hours, then waking up optionally earlier, might be not the easiest At first, I tell you what, there’s plenty of things. And you know, there’s books reach out to me, if you need any recommendations to get into an early morning routine, it doesn’t take long.

And once you start and get into it, you will never want to go back. I’m at the point in my early morning habit that on weekends on vacations all the times, I like to wake up early. I almost feel hindered if we take a family vacation, and we’re all sharing a hotel room.

And I can’t get up early in the way that I like to. It’s crazy. But you know, as somebody who used to love asleep in and snooze my alarm over and over again, and everything else, like I feel you if you think it’s not for you. And I understand that you feel like it’s going to be really challenging. And it might be at first but also like anything else. It’s all about your mindset.

So you can either decide it’s going to be hard, or you can decide it’s going to be easy, and that you’re going to make the most out of it and that you’re going to majorly benefit from this change in your life. And that’s going to be just, it’s going to be key to the way that it propels you further forward.

So those are my best tips for today. I just want to say that if you are a woman in business, working from home and raising your family, you’re amazing. So many people wouldn’t have even dared to do this decades ago. And it is it’s daring, and it’s courageous, and it’s brave. And it’s challenging. And there are new obstacles literally every day. But they are worth facing. They’re worth finding ways to overcome or break through or improve. And in doing so, you become better and you show your family how to become better. And
it’s all worth it guys. Keep at it. Check out the resources in the show notes. Thank you for listening. Have an amazing, amazing day.