Doing It All: How I Balance Freelancing as a Busy (and Messy) Stay-at-Home Mom

I am admittedly a mess.

I mean it! I am. Right now, I’m writing from my kitchen counter and just in my view I can see the dishes from last night that need to be washed, laundry from a few days ago that needs to be folded, and children’s toys EVERYWHERE! I swear, if I step on one more Bluey figurine, I may have a conniption. My daughter’s homeschool cabinet is in disarray, and I’m pretty sure there’s a dirty diaper on the floor near my coffee table.

I know I’m not alone. I’m willing to bet that your home looks pretty similar. That’s not a critique on your housekeeping skills, but rather, a real look into the lives of mothers across the United States. In a world of girl bosses and leaning in, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and let your life get messy. I would know, my life has been a mess since my oldest was born.

Still, as messy as my home is currently (and if I’m being honest, most of the time is), my heart is overflowing! I have the opportunity to work from the comfort of my home, homeschool my children, and maintain a relative sense of sanity.

Now before you roll your eyes, this isn’t that type of post. I’m not going to promise you can have it all or call back to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. The notion that women can do it all and more if they just rolled up their sleeves and got to it is not for me! I’ll applaud girl bosses from the side lines, but if you’re like me, just trying to keep your head on straight and get through the week, then girl bossing is probably not your cup of tea. It’s alright, we drink iced coffee over here.

In 2018, Michelle Obama called bullsh*t on the notion that women can have it all. “That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time,” Obama said. “That’s a lie.”

Michelle Obama keeps it real, and I’m living for it! I think most moms, working and stay-at-home alike, get the sentiment. We are constantly bombarded with messages from the media and influencers that being a mom is easier than it looks and if we got up earlier, went to bed later, worked out more, shopped locally, hired a nanny, got our groceries delivered, or some other ridiculous anecdote, we too could have it all. Like Michelle, I’m calling BS!

I will not promise that I have it all. I don’t even have half. What I do have is a strategy for you to create some sense of balance in your life, no matter how messy it looks.

The Key to Balance

Finding balance has been a constant battle for me. Before quitting my 9-5, it was almost impossible. When I left my job in December of 2020, I thought surely it was work that kept me out of balance. I had convinced myself that as a SAHM, the house would always be cleaned, my kids would eat sandwiches cut in cute shapes, and I’d have the house of my Pinterest dreams.

Let’s take a moment to collectively laugh at past me and my absurd expectations. It’s okay, laugh as hard as you’d like…I deserve it.

Honestly, I had no clue what a SAHM did. I knew only that I missed my babies and wanted to be with them. I knew my 9-5 had burned me out beyond measure. I knew I wanted a change of pace, but it would be a full year before I figured out how that could work for me and my family.

Finding the Right Schedule for You

We tried out a ton of schedules before we found one that stuck. I’m going to share our favorites.

Life is still a balancing act, so sometimes you need to switch it up. Our family keeps three schedules in rotation. We ebb and flow between “The Ideal Schedule”, “Busy Bees”, and “Barely Surviving”. Whichever phase of life we’re in we have some set guidelines for things that must happen daily. This is incredibly helpful the weeks we find ourselves in survival mode.

I encourage you to look through these schedules and put together your own. Pick and choose what you like and get rid of the rest. Also, make sure to have at least two schedules – one for when things are normal and one for when life gets hectic. Having a schedule in place for your busiest times will help minimize your overwhelm and keep you feeling in control even if you’re barely hanging on.

“Barely Surviving”
6:00a – Mommy and baby wake-up
6:30a – Playtime/Check emails and admin tasks
7:00a – Morning routine (oldest and daddy wake up, brush teeth, get dressed)
7:30a – Breakfast
8:00a – Homeschooling: Reading and Math
10:00a – Nap/Mommy work time
12:00p – Lunch
1:00p – Playtime/screen time while mommy works
3:00p – Outside time (rec center for inclement weather)
5:00p – Playtime/screen time while dinner is prepared
6:00p – Dinner
7:00p – Nighttime routine
8:00p – Work
10:00p – Crash

“Busy Bees”
5:00a – Mommy wakes up/morning routine
6:00a – Baby wakes up to play while mommy works
7:00a – Morning routine (oldest and daddy wake up, brush teeth, get dressed)
7:30a – Breakfast
8:00a – Homeschooling: Reading and Math
10:00a – Run errands/appointments
11:00a – Library or Museum visit
12:00p – Lunch
2:00p – Homeschooling: Art/STEM
3:00p – Outside time (rec center for inclement weather)
4:00p – Playtime/mommy works
6:00p – DoorDash dinner
7:00p – Nighttime routine
8:00p – Work
12:00a – Crash

“Ideal Schedule”
5:00a – Mommy wakes up/morning routine
6:00a – Mommy works
7:00a – Morning routine
8:00a – Gym
10:00a – Homeschooling: Reading and Math
11:00a – Nap/mommy work
1:00p – Lunch
2:00p – Homeschool: Art/STEM
3:00p – Outside time (rec center for inclement weather)
5:00p – Playtime/screen time
6:30p – Dinner
7:00p – Nighttime routine
8:00p – Work
10:00a – Crash

One last thing, scheduling your life is not easy! I told you that it took a full year before my family figured out something that worked for us.

Give yourself time and grace to find what works. You may find that one schedule works for you and your baby but your oldest and your partner are drowning. Leave room for change and give yourself the freedom to ditch something if it isn’t working. Also remember that sometimes you need to be schedule-free and there’s no shame in that.

Like Michelle Obama said, “It’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.”

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