I have a few rules to live by now that I'm working as a mother with a 7 month old around:
- A rested mom is a happy & productive mom
- Proper time management is essential.
- Allow people to help you out.
- My son is more important than any project, job or paycheck and always will be.
1) Sleep - the most commonly discussed topic at a new mom's group meeting (how to find more and how to get our babies to do longer stretches of it)...
There's no way to be creative when you're exhausted and there's certainly not much room to be a good and happy mother (and wife) when you're running on empty. I make time to cook good, nutritious meals, I get go to bed early so I can handle the night wakings and every once in a while (including today) I take a nap.
*Night wakings can be very frequent and arduous - something that can quickly deteriorate your mental health. Postpartum Depression is serious and lack of sleep can contribute to getting it. I keep myself in check by watching my state of happiness. When I wake up and can't give my son (or husband) a smile in the morning I make sure to nap that day to catch up, deadline or none.
2) Proper Time Management - I have always been self-disciplined and that's something that everyone who works from home needs to be. It gets a lot harder when your little one arrives and you realize that suddenly all of your work needs to happen according to their schedule (yikes, right?). Now that my son is older he is happier for longer periods of time playing beside me on the floor, I'm finding that I can catch up on my emails/phone calls in the mornings before his nap. During his nap (if I'm not napping too), I can work on a painting or prep one. I often find it easier to keep up with cleaning the house while wearing my son in a sling or my ergo carrier just before or after his naps. Same goes with preparing the evening meal (a ring sling is good for this to keep little hands away from dangerous things). It helps to have a favorite toy stashed in the office to use during important phone calls. My son also has an early bedtime (7 - 7:30pm) which allows for a good hour and a half of work.
3) My mother-in-law loves her grandson and lives within a half hour drive of my house. I was able to use her help quite a few Thursdays this fall to watch over my son while I painted and while I taught at MacEwan University. I'm so very lucky that she works part time. It's hard for any mother to let someone else take care of your baby (in many cases this includes the baby's father) but if help is out there it's wonderful to take it (as long as you trust them of course). There's pressure out there to be everything all at once - the working mom, the perfect-always-there mom, the wife, the cook, the homemaker, the dog walker, the host-with-the-most... but if becoming a mother has taught me anything important it's that I no longer have to be all of those things at once.
4) My son is the most important thing and always will be.
This means that I will never again take on more work than I can handle (this means for me about 10 hours per week), I will not answer a client's phone call or email if my son is crying, I will lower my expectations on the type of work I can get done while my son is a preschooler and have rearranged my priorities (taking on a smaller amount of art shows and client work for example). And, when I see that it's 10pm and I'm still writing on my silly blog, knowing that my son will most likely wake up a couple of times tonight crying then be up for the day at 5:30am tomorrow I call it a day.
Good Luck to all new moms!