My Work + Life Update {Summer 2014}

posted by Andrea | 08/22/2014
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work life update

I still can’t believe it’s been FOUR years since I started this blog — and over SEVEN years since I started my organizing business!

Time flies 🙂

Over the past 3 years — going from working part-time from home with no kids to full-time from home with 2 kids — I’ve definitely had to make many adjustments with how I balance both my work and personal lives. I’ve slowed down in some areas, devoted more time to other areas, said “no” a lot, and gotten used to much less sleep (mostly because of sleepless children!)

Since Simon was born, I’ve gotten many questions asking what my work + life balance looks like with 2 kids. And since Simon is almost 6 months old already, I figured it was time for an update!

WORK

I’m still working as a Virtual Assistant (VA) for 4 different clients. I’ve been with 3 of the clients for several years, and just added the 4th client right before Simon was born (good timing, I know!)

I put in approximately 15-20 hours a week TOTAL for my VA work.

I spend about 10 hours a week writing 5 blog posts for my blog — which includes drafting them, writing them, taking and editing pictures, and various other odds and ends involved in getting the 5 posts ready to publish.

I have another 5 hours (or more) involved in reading and responding to comments, facebook messages, emails, ad inquiries, etc.

I recently quit some of my duties for one VA and stopped writing a couple of my regular monthly posts for various websites — both in attempts to free up more time.

I say “no” to pretty much every other business-related request for my time — except a few local speaking engagements from time to time.

On a slow week, I might only work 30 hours, and on a busy week, it might be closer to 45. However, the important thing to realize is that I am in full control over every single one of my business-related responsibilities and can basically do whatever I want, whenever it works for me.

Aside from a few loose deadlines for my VA work, I can work my job requirements around whatever else is going on in my personal and family life. This is the main reason I’ve been able to swing the ‘working full-time from home with kids’ gig (not to mention, helpful family members who sometimes offer to take Nora off my hands for a couple hours!)

I find it so interesting that when I first started working from home 7+ years ago, never once did I even consider this is what my business would (or could) look like. I didn’t even know what a blog was back then — and I’m not sure if a “Virtual Assistant” was even an actual job. Now, here I am, making a living doing something I didn’t even understand a few years ago!

LIFE

House projects are winding down. We’re thrilled that both the mudroom and the deck are 100% finished! The only house project we want to do before cold weather arrives is replace our front door.

We still have yard work to do, but we should be able to finish that before it gets too cold — if not, it can always wait until spring 🙂

Both kids are doing well — Nora is potty trained during the day, and Simon is growing like a weed.

Nora is completely finished with any shred of a nap and Simon is just starting to transition from several shorter naps to a couple longer naps — both of these changes should make getting out and about much easier.

Bedtime is also going quite well! Simon has always gone to bed very early (around 6:30pm) and after 2.5 years of struggling with Nora, we have finally managed to move her bedtime up to 7:30 or 8:00 (a huge improvement from 10:30 or 11:00). This means Dave and I usually have 3+ hours to work on house projects, yard projects, work projects, or just hang out after the kids go to bed. This is totally new for us — and speaking for myself, I love it!

I’m still not crazy about the baby stage of life, but I’m surviving and actually enjoying Simon’s baby phase.

Nora is full-blown “terrible twos” and “cuter than cute” all at the same time (I won’t lie… I love all of it!) She’s learning so much and I feel like she turned into a little girl this summer.

Dave is heading back to school in less than 2 weeks for his TENTH year of teaching!

As with all things in life, there are good days and bad days — but there is no doubt that life with 2 kids has been significantly easier than Dave and I were anticipating (although I was preparing myself for the absolute worse-case scenario.)

I LOVE having a teacher husband in the summer; however, I’m not sure I’m quite ready for Dave to go back to school yet. Yes, we know how lucky we are to both be home all summer — we just need to figure out our new normal for life after school starts again.

All in all, when it comes to balancing my work, personal, home, and family life, I would say things are going better than I expected. This does not mean there aren’t stressful days, this does not mean everything always (or even ever) runs according to plans, and it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do things differently if I had a “do-over”.

It just means that we’re “rolling with the punches” and constantly trying our best to adjust to the ever-changing needs of a busy toddler, a growing infant, house projects, an at-home business, and life as a family of 4.

If I’m honest, there are days I strongly consider throwing in the towel and quitting all my work-related responsibilities (I’m sure any working person can relate) but then I realize how much a enjoy doing all the different things I do each day, and how lucky I am to pack it all in every day.

Working and doing something that feels useful and productive makes me a better mom, being a mom makes me a much more relatable blogger, and blogging is just good for my soul.

All the pieces seem to fit together so well right now, and I hope that if /when we have more children, I’ll continue to find the right balance between everything. I’m certain it will not be easy, but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it!

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22 comments

  1. Sheri

    08/26/2014

    Andrea,

    Thank you for your very relevant blog posts. There are always multiple nuggets for me to use.

    I am a mommy to a 21-month-old little girl and am also doing VA work. I currently have one client (which is all I want right now) and am struggling to balance my work and taking care of her. My client would actually like more hours from me, and I’d like to be able to give him that. But I need to figure out my “system” first.

    So my question is, logistically speaking, how do you fit in 30-45 hours of work each week with little ones? What are they doing while you’re working? I appreciate whatever you are willing to share as I try to figure out how to make things work in our house.

    (My husband is a teacher also, and I left teaching junior high after 14 years when I became a mom. So glad I am able to be home with my little one now.)

    Sheri

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Sheri,
    First of all, with Dave home ALL summer, I could pretty much work whenever I wanted to. Now that school is almost here, I’ll be working mostly while they sleep.

    I usually get an hour of work in before they wake up and another hour in while Simon is sleeping and I let Nora watch a couple shows on Netflix.
    Then I do the rest of the work once Dave is home (he can be home by 3:30). Often I can get a good 4 hours in after Simon goes to bed (usually by 6:30) and Dave takes care of getting Nora to bed.

    Also, I usually do work on Saturday at some point — there are always windows of time to fit an hour or so in. I think the key for me is know EXACTLY what I need to do and how long those tasks will take me. This way, if I have 30 minutes free, I can work on a quick project. If I have 3 hours free, I can work on a longer project.

    Make sense?

    I’m actually doing another post about my VA work tomorrow — so make sure you read that one too!

    [Reply]

  2. kathy

    08/25/2014

    continues from above….. Because with your second child you already know what to expect, you seem more relaxed as a parent and enjoy the ride better. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    [Reply]

  3. Kathy

    08/25/2014

    So glad that having 2 children is easier than having one child. The first baby is such an “apprentice” experience without the guidance or manual and the second baby is expedientally easier and I’m glad it is for you too. You still have sleepless nights and double work but

    [Reply]

  4. karen miller

    08/23/2014

    Enjoy your children while they are little cause they grow up way too fast! I currently have a 13 year old daughter and a 23 year old son that I enjoy very much! They needed me a lot while they were young but not so much any more. So now I am free to do more of the things I like again while they are in school or have after school activities. Of course, one is now out of the house so that makes things even easier, and the house that much cleaner-LOL!

    [Reply]

  5. Gail Nicolosi

    08/22/2014

    Australia. Queensland. Suburb if capital of Queensland, Brisbane. I’m 63, parenting my beautiful grandchild and widowed earlier this year. Googled how to Simplify Life and have been motivated and inspired ever since. Have sung your praises to friends.
    You have helped me get organized. Every day I achieve SOMETHING and I use your posts to help me start.

    Thank you for your wonderful site. I love seeing the photos you take of everything including to watching Nora and Simon grow. They are so precious. God Bless you dear ‘Type AAA’. I was like you when I was younger but have learnt to pace myself so I don’t burn out and it’s good you’re looking after yourself this way.

    Nonna Gail

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Gail! Yes, just a little bit Type A going on over here — but believe it or not, I’m getting WAY better and chilling out and relaxing. I still have a long way to go, but for the most part, I do like my Type A 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Rebecca

    08/22/2014

    Love this post. I am glad you have found what works well for you and the flexibility to be at home too. I have no doubt it is hard some days! I have to say, the last picture with simon giving that cute little grin at the camera is ADORABLE! I just want to squeeze him! I miss that squishy baby stage. My first grand baby is coming next year, so I will get the baby hugs in without the sleep deprived state. Kinda looking forward to that!
    Keep inspiring us, you are great at it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Rebecca — and yes, I wish the picture didn’t turn out so grainy/blurry because both kids look SO cute 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Amy

    08/22/2014

    I love this! I have two little girls (1 and 2), and recently started my own headband/little girl accessory business and am having a hard time balancing it all! I didn’t work before so this is new to me and it took off a lot quicker than I anticipated. My goal was to be able to pay for my student loan myself and not have my husband work more to start paying for it. I’m having a hard time feeling guilty that I’m not giving All my time and attention to my kids, so its really nice to see and here from someone else that works at home and has found a balance 😉

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Amy, congrats on the new business and how fast it’s growing! I’m sure it is 10 times more difficult to start a business AFTER having children then before (like I did). I can’t even imagine!

    Also, as far as your guilt — I’m pretty sure every single mother in existence feels guilty about something. There is ALWAYS more we can do for our family — but the way I look at it, sometimes we need to do something for ourselves so we’re happier and more capable of meeting the never-ending needs of our families. I think it’s great that your business is doing well AND that you have a concrete goal of what you’re working towards. I’m sure you’re doing better than you give yourself credit for.

    Oh, and for the record, my “work + life balance” is an ever-evolving thing. I’m always tweaking and changing things so my business life works with the ever-changing needs of my family and personal lives. It’s a continual process that I’m re-evaluating all the time. I’m sure I’ll need to change things up again once Dave is back in school as my glorious summer routine probably won’t work anymore.

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Thank you! You are very encouraging!

    [Reply]

  8. Erica

    08/22/2014

    Hi there ! Just started reading your blog before you had simon and I love it!
    Was wondering about that VA job you have? Looking for a new job myself that will let me stay home with the kiddos!
    Any info you have is truly appreciated !

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Erica, I’m actually blogging about this next week (so stay tuned). In the mean time, you can learn more about what I do from this post 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Elizabeth

    08/22/2014

    I read your blog every morning! Thanks for always having a post ready! I feel you on wanting to work at something else besides “just mothering”. I had to leave coaching after the 2nd was born
    and I miss it so much; but I know it only temporary until i can have them out there with my running around 🙂 Nora is so super cute with her curls and bows. What blessings are our children!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I hear ya — I’ve quit SO many things I loved doing (and figured I’d easily be able to do with kids). It IS worth it, and you’re right, it’s only for a time — but wow, life sure is different after kids 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Abby

    08/22/2014

    My 10yo has been back in school for 3 weeks now and while I am disappointed summer is ending, I welcome the schedule back into our lives. I love summer and its flexibility, but we’ve stayed up past our bedtimes too many times and this mama and her baby needs some sleep! Our schedule and system aren’t perfect but they are ours and they work for our family!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Dave and I stayed up WAY past our bedtime too — ALL summer long! Too many projects I guess 🙂

    The early mornings of our school routine will be a very rude awakening!

    [Reply]

  11. Amanda

    08/22/2014

    I have been following your blog for several years..I love your post and look forward to them everyday! I like how you are honest and say that life is not perfect but you roll with the punches! One of the biggest things I have learned from your blog is that my organized life does not have to look like yours or the next person’s!
    I am super jealous of your mud room! I want one so bad! It looks amazing!
    One thing that I would like to see in a future post is the plans that you guys did for you landscaping and how far you have come with that!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amanda — and you’re right. YOUR organized home will probably look completely different than MY organized home. The important thing is that we are each able to find what we need, when we need it, and feel comfortable in our homes.

    And thanks for the mudroom compliments. We are THRILLED as this was always one of the things we really wished we could have, but never thought it would be possible with our house. I’m so glad we came up with this idea and that everything has worked out so far!

    Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll definitely be doing an updated landscaping post later this fall. I’m just waiting for some grass to grow in and to finish up a few more outside projects before I take the pictures!

    [Reply]

  12. Kim

    08/22/2014

    Aw! Love the post today! I am so glad you were able to find something that you love to do and can get paid to do it. I struggle with this all the time. I am not 100% happy in my current job/career yet I continue because it is what pays the bills. And to be completely honest, I have no idea what would make me happy, career-wise, at this point. Some days I feel like I would be good at human resources and other days I think project management is the way for me to go. Either way, a change will happen eventually, it’s just not in the cards right now when my husband is trying to get his career up and going.

    Kudos to you and your beautiful family for making it all work out the way it does!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kim. I feel very lucky!

    I can understand exactly where you are though too — just working for the paycheck (I did that for a few years before starting my business). I obviously don’t know you personally, but from the sounds of things, I feel like you’re doing the right thing for right now. You’re working to pay the bills while your husband is building his career… and maybe, once his career is able to pay the bills, you can re-evaluate at that time.

    In the mean time, it might not be a bad idea to take some personality and occupational tests. I know it sounds dorky, but it’s amazing what you can learn about yourself from those tests (plus, I love that kind of thing!)

    Good luck!

    [Reply]