How Do You Do It?
Answering Questions of Balancing Motherhood and Business Like a Lady-Boss
My name is Blakely, and I’m the “mamapreneur” at the helm of Media by Bg., a company that helps baby + lifestyle brands build a presence on social media and with bloggers. I’m also mom to Finn (20 months) and Holly (7 months). Did you just do the math on their ages? Is your head spinning? Mine too!
Before my son was born I worked at a boutique travel PR agency with high-end hotel clients and though I loved my job, I knew travelling for work would take a toll on my new life as a mom. I became less intrigued by swanky celebrity parties in the Hamptons and meetings with the who’s who at Vogue, and envied moms on Instagram who made a living blogging about their family; their children’s outfits, their favorite baby gear, their solutions to sleepless nights. After writing a press release while in labor and racing to get to a meeting in Midtown Manhattan when my son was only a month old, I knew something had to give. I boarded the train home to New Jersey in tears and – after calling my husband, who gave me the motivation I needed to cut the cord – sent my resignation letter to my boss. I have never felt so free (and panicked, if I’m being honest). Ultimately, working for myself meant I would have a boss who knew family comes first; that first steps, days of school, recitals and soccer games would always trump returning an email or answering a phone call. I would be “mama” first, publicist second. I partnered up with a friend and colleague, PR wiz Kelly O’Shea (of Kellyopr.com), and we set out to make media magic.
The most common question I’m asked is, “How do you do it?”
My first answer is always, “It all just gets done, because it has to.” But, I understand that doesn’t provide much for the fellow mama looking to set out on her own. While I don’t have all the answers – and I always have a huge to do list at the end of every day – here are some helpful hints to working as a stay-at-home mom.
1: Learn to Say “No”
An important part of running your own business is learning what projects are worth your efforts and working with people who respect your expertise. I quickly realized that lower paying clients required just as much work as those with bigger budgets, so I decided to set an hourly rate – as opposed to a flat rate – which would hold both myself and clients accountable. You’d be shocked how often I am asked to work for free, and over time, I’ve learned the art of diplomatically and respectfully turning down clients who want the moon for a nickel. The exception to this rule is that I’ve often donated my time to clients whose products and brand mission I am really passionate about. I sign on for very little, and when the brand takes off, I am grateful that I was a part of their humble beginnings. So, in some cases, it’s a good idea to gamble on companies you feel are “worth it.” (Coincidentally, those clients always get the easiest and most organic press!)
2: Accept Help
Since the addition of our second baby, I’ve had to accept the fact that I am not superwoman (don’t let my cape fool you), and I cannot do it all. I recently enrolled my son in a Mother’s Day Out program so I can get extra work done during the week, and it’s been amazing for me and even more so for him. Accept your limits, and build your schedule around realistic goals.
3: There’s No Clocking Off
A not-so-fun secret of this gig is that there are no weekends. A really common (and hella frustrating!) misconception is that because I work at home, I work less than those who clock in at an office. Not only is this not true, but I probably spend more productive hours at my desk than my in-office counterparts. I don’t take weekends off (I usually spend a few hours a day shooting product, writing and editing releases, and catching up on lists and agendas) and I am typically up until midnight finishing up work. Do not start your own business if you want to work less. Start your own business because you want to work on your own clock.
4: Get Dressed in The Morning
This is quite possibly my weirdest tip, but it’s made a huge difference. Because I rarely see others on days where we don’t leave the house, I would stay in my PJs until it became necessary for me to change. Lately, I change first thing in the morning (even if it’s out of yoga pants into other yoga pants) and it boosts my productivity.
5: Turn Off Your Phone
For a few hours each day (typically during waking hours when both kids are at their most active), I shut off my phone. I put it on silent and hook it up to my charger, and during those hours, I am no one’s publicist. I dance, cook, sing, play Legos, watch cartoons, and snuggle. It’s important to me that my kids not look back and remember a mom who constantly had her head buried in her phone. Though it’s true that my job allows me to involve them in my work (the kids are photoshoot pros!), it’s also true that I have two personas: “Work Mom” and “Mama.” I try and turn off my work brain for a few hours to let my kids get my uninhibited attention, and they usually reward me with a lengthy nap (so Work Mom can get a few things done).
I am so incredibly grateful to live in the era of technology – where I can hop on a conference call while nursing a baby or work from bed when they’ve fallen fast asleep on my lap. While the title “CEO” sounds powerful, my favorite job – the most important job – is right at home as “Mama.”
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