I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her children and also has a freelance writing and editing business. You could call me a stay-at-home mom, a homeschooling mom, a writer mom, a stay-at-home, homeschooling writer mom, a crazy mom, or you could just call me Mariana. I’ve never been a big fan of labels anyway.
Many people think I’m either some kind of genius or completely nuts. Well, I’m definitely not a genius, and probably a little nuts, but I love my life and wouldn’t have it any less busy.
I started writing online for fun in the fall of 2015 because I wanted to get published on a multi-author blog. I had thought about becoming a full-time writer, but I knew that was far off in the future. I did, after all, have a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 5-year-old at the time, and I was starting to homeschool my oldest. There was no way I’d have the time – or so I thought.
Then my grandpa (who lives in Brazil) became sick. And as they say (sort of), when the going gets tough, the tough get writing. So I started looking for ways to earn money from my writing to buy a ticket to see my grandpa.
I worked hard, landed a few clients, was featured in some publications and made enough money to buy my ticket in under 2 months. Making money as a writer definitely isn’t easy; it takes hard work. It’s even harder when you have little ones to look after.
I do, crazy as it sounds, manage to balance being a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling, freelance writing, a social life (believe it or not) and the upkeep of a house (sort of).
It’s sometimes a precarious balance, and getting to this point wasn’t easy. But if things were always perfectly balanced, life would be pretty boring. I love my crazy life and have no intentions of changing it.
So how exactly do you balance your writing, being a stay-at-home mom, and everything else?
Firstly, let’s get one thing out of the way: my house isn’t clean. And it took me a while, but I’ve accepted this fact; I can’t do everything.
One of the major ways I keep my sanity is to prioritise tasks and just be OK with those that can’t get on the to-do list for certain days. If that means I sacrifice house cleaning to play with my kids, I’m (finally) OK with that.
How do I balance everything else?
I Work Part-Time
It’s important to note that I’ve chosen to work on my business part-time. I have the luxury of being able to rely on my husband’s income, so working part-time is an option. For most stay-at-home moms, this is probably the easiest way to start.
I Have Part-Time Childcare
I’d be lying if I said I had no help. Let’s be honest: the stay-at-home moms of young children who have no childcare and are killing it in the freelance writing world (do those moms even exist?) are probably not sleeping.
The Facebook ads showing a mom working on a computer with a happy baby on her lap are fiction. These are stock photos, and this kind of thing does not happen in real life; trust me.
So yes, if you have young children, you’ll need childcare for a few hours to be able to think—and write —uninterrupted. I don’t have full-time help, and most stay-at-home moms couldn’t afford that anyway.
But once per week, I have a full day where someone else takes care of my children, and on that one day, I work with intense focus on my freelance writing and editing business. The rest of the work I do in the evenings. But I do change my schedule as needed—I used to work in the early mornings until very recently.
I (Finally) Have My Own Space
It helps to have my own space outside the house. I’ve finally rented space to do my work. For some, this might seem like a waste of money, but for this extroverted stay-at-home mom who spends her days around kids and kids’ activities, I need the interaction with other entrepreneurs to stay sane.
The space I rent is a “hot desk” in a coworking space. There are people all around me, and throughout the day we have chats. Even with these interruptions, I’ve tripled my productivity by having a space free of the distractions of my home. This helps me get more work done.
In addition to doing all the work required to maintain my business, I also have to do work around my homeschooling life.
My Homeschooling Life
Homeschooling is an amazing thing, but it’s also time-consuming. I’ve created strategies and schedules that allow me to get the work done.
All my kids have “rest time” for 1 hour each day, where they do a quiet activity in their rooms. That’s when I plan my homeschooling lessons. I also plan lessons while my oldest does her independent work, and when the children have their TV time (yes, my kids watch television. Any mother who says her children don’t watch TV either doesn’t own a TV or is lying).
So I’ve found a way to get my freelance work and my homeschooling work done…but what about the housework?
Dealing With Housework
The housework does suffer. I try to keep on top of the laundry and to keep the bathrooms and kitchen clean. The rest goes to the bottom of the priority list for when I have nothing better to do (mmmm… maybe it’s time to clean the bedrooms. Oh, wait, I have something better to do).
I have an incredible babysitter who is super mature and hard working for her age. She doesn’t only care for my kids; my house is always cleaner when I arrive than when I left. That helps.
It also helps that my husband is involved. He does his fair share of the housework – after all, he lives in the house too. His dad set a great example about being an involved member of the household, and my husband’s teaching my son and daughters to do the same.
But what about the cooking?
Because I’m the one who’s home before dinner each weekday, most of the cooking falls to me. I don’t mind this at all, because I love cooking, and the kids love to “help” me do it as well.
But with the crazy schedule, who has time to cook? Batch prepping and cooking to the rescue. On Saturday mornings, my hubby takes the kids to the in-laws for pancake breakfast, and I use that time to batch cook and prep meals for the coming week. That way, I can just throw something in a pot or pull something out of the freezer each evening.
What about organizing your work assignments?
With regards to how I organize my work, that’s on a week-to-week basis, depending on what client work I have and what personal projects I’m working on.
I also revise this schedule each week. My best advice for time management is to have a schedule, but be flexible with it. Change it as needed. So long as you get all your work done, are still getting exercise, and are getting your sleep, you’re doing it right.
Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling, freelance writing mother (all at the same time) is not for the faint of heart. But I’m a multipotentialite, and I thrive when I have several things on the go.
It’s not for everybody, but if you want to give it a try, I’m an email away for any advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out through my Facebook page.
Mariana Abeid-McDougall is a wife, mother, and writer in an out-of-the-box, adventurous family. She’s on a mission to help multi-talented writers recognise that niching isn’t necessary for success. You can—and should—write about everything that interests you. If you’re a multi-talented writer, join a group of like-minded people in our Multi-Talented Writers Facebook group. You can also check out Mariana’s multi-niche blog at www.marianamcdougall.com.