Reflections on Being an Author and Work at Home Parent
Blogging Tips and Life Motivation
[This post is long but I think it gives solid reflection on life as a author/blogger and work at home parent and with real tips for achieving goals and finding balance…with serious motivation to keep going.]
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I knew going into this summer that I would need to simply relax and be flexible. And also focused and determined hell or high water to be productive. Both at the same time. My kids are still young, so I haven’t had many summers yet to build this incredible skill power.
I’ve learned a lot. That I can indeed survive several days being woke up a few times a night because someone’s blankets fell off the bed, and then woke up before 6am by same sweet child to start the day and somehow manage to stay up til midnight (way past my bedtime) to get work done.
If you want to succeed bad enough – you will make the time to make progress happen.
I also entered summer mode dreading famed summer activities of park time and pool time. Basically where Moms stand around while kids burn off endless energy and Mom feels like she will never get anything done that MUST get done.
I have kept my expectations high and yep I raised that bar a little too high maybe. I set goals and deadlines that were far-fetched, yet I’d rather aim too high than too low. I’ve kept a fairly positive mindset, and have enjoyed my down time and quality time with the kiddos. I balanced normal boring play (indoors and out) with sports and a couple camps. One thing I realized quickly – any hopes of getting real work done during the day would not happen.
As you know I’ve been working hard on growing my social media (learning how to) along with building my brand and platform. Here are my thoughts and observations on how things have gone this summer (especially during midsummer).
I started July off with a bang – surpassing stats goals in Twitter and Pinterest and almost making my website traffic goals. I had incredible traffic for 2 weeks, even with reduced efforts on my part in social media interaction.
Then I got hit by a slow week. What didn’t help this slow week is that it crashed into deadline week – meaning all my energy and focus went into making the book deadline and leaving zero time for trying to re-boost the social media #s. I also had a harder time finding good niche stuff to share.
Pinterest and YouTube are doing well, my videos I posted in June are taking off and doing well and making me money! This makes me excited for creating more videos in the near future!
Biggest challenges right now (mid-July) are getting 2nd book done by deadline and with quality finishing touches and it is midsummer with kids at home – no matter the scheduling changes the reality is it is hard to get anything of quality done midsummer with kids underfoot. My work time has shifted mostly to minimal maintenance during the day and staying up working 9pm til midnight most nights and I’m not a night person. Adjusting some but it’s hard to focus and think straight when you’re dog tired.
Also wondering about my goals for August with one child’s birthday and back to school prep – is it even realistic to try for any new projects and goals? Part of me feels like just hanging on will be enough of a challenge.
Nearing end of July. For all the sweat and near tears, second EBook got done on time. The biggest challenge is lack of routine work time with kids being home. I got two Thursday nights kid and hubby free in which to work. The first one I worked hard for 10 hours straight. The second was more of a challenge as I felt tired and lazy and while I worked for 7 hours and got a few things done I struggled with what I was supposed to be doing.
FB reach has been low this month. Those high twitter numbers dropped – I guess people were just looking to meet their June goals. Pinterest is growing and now a huge source of traffic for me! I also switched to using Hootesuite for scheduling and I really like it except that co-schedule kept track of how many times my posts had been pinned. (My issue with co-schedule was a technical glitch issue they couldn’t seem to fix. I otherwise liked it.)
I went to edit the extra video I’d recorded only to find it so dreadful I decided to not use it at all. I do however have time coming up in August when kids are at camp a few hours giving me some video making time.
I have done well planning and mapping out my future posts/videos/books/courses. Everything I create now is on purpose and leads into other products and projects. I feel like I am slowly getting more organized and aligned. I also cleaned up the site this month and it looks nicer already. I know what I want to do with my work and my platform – the issue is time.
I’ve noticed scheduling social media is now more challenging and requires more time and more accurate organization. There is not yet a social scheduler that (is free or cheap) that sends to all the social sites and keeps track of everything for all of them. So I created my own chart for basic recording of what I share and when. (I have an upcoming post where you can download my chart and use it too).
I aim for 4-5 FB posts a day, all posts are my stuff. It’s a combination of revitalized posts from the archives, upcoming events, mentioning of my products 1-3 times per week for each product, sharing my YouTube videos etc.
July was a month of getting organized as my platform has grown and become more complex. In addition to my normal 1-2 new posts created and published each week, I also have a 1-2 themes for the month. July was health/fitness and success – both in correlation with the release of my book The Point of the Marathon. The videos I released and shared also directly connected with the book launch.
Since success is a wide subject, I try to satisfy each of my groups of followers every week. I have athletes/fitness enthusiasts, parents, business professionals and writers/bloggers. My success principles can be applied across the board.
So even though my month has a theme for all new posts and related stuff, I make sure that I reach out to my other categories of followers with my re-shares of older posts.
Now that I’m past the beginner blogger stage and have a clearer idea of the direction I’m taking my brand in, I’m also able to create new posts that are category crossers. An example of this is my How to Taper Like an Athlete for Professionals post.
Also for each week, I plan out which older posts I will use for the week across the whole social media platform. I pick two or three for each day and that is what I share on all social media accounts for that day. Ex: Today, I re-shared The Resilient Runner, Tapering Like an Athlete and The Increasing Challenges of Being a Fit Mom.
I shared those three on Twitter, FB, and Pinterest.
Pinterest has gotten crazy. I belong and contribute to several boards and this brings me so much traffic. But it is hard to know which pins you pinned where and how long ago. Many boards also have very similar titles which can make it a little confusing at times. So I also created another chart I use every month so I know when I last repined a pin across all the related boards.
While it use to be harder to know what I pinned and when, now with my weekly social media scheduling chart and my Pinterest chart, it is much easier to keep track of and makes it faster for me.
So when I have a new post or am pinning the 2-3 re-shares for the day, I just share it in every related board I belong to. And then I x it off on my Pinterest chart and I know to wait a few weeks before re-pinning it.
July has also been a very odd month for me. I have been crazy busy and only mildly productive. I don’t know how else to describe it. Last school year my kids were both in half day pre-k, so I only had 4 hours total each week for kid free work time.
Yet our summer daily life is just busier. More activities and the kids apparently have to be glued to me. So in the spring even when I was staying up late to get work done, I was getting 4-6 hours of productive work time in each day.
In the whole month of July, I’ve been lucky to weasel out 2-3 hours daily. My work time despite all of my success efforts has been cut in half. With the finalizing and launching of a book. Hah. And that is how it has felt. I’ve given solid, thorough effort and it still wasn’t enough. This summer has been Flex Season for me – with everything. Since I had preplanned a few months of work and tasks out ahead of time, I’ve been able to stay on track and focused. I know what I need to do each day (at minimum) and what I’d like to also get done. Honest truth, I’ve barely gotten to any of those ‘want to get it done’ things.
Parents who work outside the home and use daycare don’t understand that work at home parents don’t have that option. As in childcare costs are not realistic. And you truly can’t get anything done when kids are home. And some parents don’t have relatives nearby to help watch them either. And I’m in that boat. So when summer started this is the mindset I’ve used to help me be successful and help me survive.
I will show up each day, as each day comes, and apply my best effort I can that day, and let the day be done when it is done. I am realistic about my resources, my options, my opportunities and what I can accomplish. I will finish my book, and promote/release it to the best of my ability as it is at the time (which may or may not be my normal best).
I will remain in a calm peaceful mindset as I go about my work, for my creativity comes when I am loving the process. I will release the pressures of my back to school deadline for earning enough income from my writing to no longer work the part time job outside the home.
And that is something there too, that pressure. The ‘I have to make this work by the end of summer or else.’ The ‘or else’ is that I keep working the crappy part time job that helps bring in extra income that is so far away from what I’m meant to be doing it brings me to tears every weekend when I have to go work there.
My youngest now gets to go to school all day long four days a week this fall. It is both a blessing and sharp sword. More kid free time in which I can really use to grow my business and new careers. But it has arrived a year earlier than first expected. And when you work from home, trying to get your 3 year plan feasibly achieved in two is well – a far stretch. I’ve come really, really close to making it happen. I’ve worked my ass off to get this close.
So when my book launched last week, I took a deep breath and really let go. I let go of that pressure. I’ve done what I can with what I’ve got available at the moment. Truthfully, I may have to work a few more months at that job. But goodness, I know just how close I really am in finally, finally saying adios to working in the rat race (not for me at all).
And once the school year starts I will basically still be in flex season. We will be adjusting to our kids being in school all day most of the week and I will be maxing out every kid free hour I possibly can to continue to grow personally and professionally.
But for right now, I’m simply trying my best to relax and enjoy the summer. And not fret too much about all those extra things I wanted to be getting done. I do what I can with the few hours I can carve out for my work and let the rest go.
I write a lot about how to handle stress, chaos, adversity and S**t hitting the fan and how to rise above it all. I use my own advice a lot. (Hey I give good advice and it really works!) I’m not afraid to question myself, my methods or what is and isn’t working in my life so I can become better and make it all work better.
I keep the bar set high and I am (almost) always doing my best to raise it again as soon as I can reach it.
But the truth is – sometimes even the most successful people get hit by storms that knock out the power. Literally. The day after my 2nd book launched, we got hit by lightning. It knocked out my internet for 48 hours and after unwelcomed poor service from our provider and installing and returning one modem (after the modem company told me the product was defective and to return it) and buying/installing yet another one, I survived. Yep. I had also planned to work social media hard to meet my July goals – and that opportunity never arrived.
I survived. It felt suffocating. To not have access to my site, my sales, my customers. After being on the receiving end of bad customer service all I wanted was to ensure my newest customers that all was well if they had any questions or issues. And I couldn’t. Turns out everything was just fine. (Thank heavens!)
Sometimes you can pour everything you are into your goal/project, barely make it there and have it keep tumbling and tossing about. Sometimes things get out of hand despite your efforts. Sometimes it really isn’t your fault.
But that doesn’t mean you ever let up giving it your best. No matter how much you question quitting and fight off tears and feeling despair, you keep your chin up. And your eyes looking forward.
Every storm (season) does pass. It does.
And you decide whether you come wind up stronger, wiser and more resilient or not.
That decision always lies in your power!
One trick I use when the going gets really rough, is looking at the progress I have made. Looking forward it may feel like my efforts have not been enough (even if I’ve given my best at the time). Looking back in reflection, I see how far I’ve come.
Ex: Two years ago I was a full time SAHM. In these two years while having kids underfoot I’ve written two full length books (ready for traditional publishing), written and published 2 additional EBooks, created a website, a blog, established social media platform, have developed my brand as an author along with about a dozen smaller accomplishments that all feed into the building of two new careers. While being a Mom, Wife, Athlete, and working outside the home some too. And I’ve had work published in large online publications.
Focus, hard work and determination will get you there! Perhaps not in the same timetable you once aimed for but it will get you there!
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