Finding Balance with Melissa McKenzie
Last year, I wrote a post about how I schedule my work week and how I get it all done as a stay at home mom of a toddler and business owner of a growing, thriving business. The response was overwhelming, and I quickly realized how many of you needed guidance for creating your own schedule and finding balance between work and life. I realized that we all want a glimpse of how others are making it work so we can better structure our own lives.
Because of this, I was inspired to start this series featuring other busy women and business owners sharing how they manage their schedules and work towards work/life balance. My hope in everything I do is that we can make our lives less busy and more intentional so that we find more room for joy. I hope that this series will inspire you in your own life and help you find just the right combination of work and play so you can make it happen too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business or work.
I am a branding specialist & strategist for women entrepreneurs who are serious about growing their business. I create strong, cohesive & unique brands for busy business women like me. I help show them how to strategically use their brand to help grow their business & gain the right customers. As a twin momma to my one year old girl & boy, a husband who is on night shift & works about 60 hours a week, finding the time to keep ahead of my client work load, mom life, & the house is a huge undertaking. It has not happened over night but has been a process that is ever-changing, just as life with babies is ever-changing.
Take us through your typical day and your main daily responsibilities.
I usually get up around 7 or 7:30 & go straight downstairs to prepare bottles for the twins. I change their diapers, give them their bottles & place them back in their cribs with some toys. While they play, I go downstairs, pour myself a cup of coffee or hot tea & spend some time in my Bible to start the day off right. If I don't fit in my devotions now, they won't get done.
I then go take a shower & get ready. I make sure to always put some make-up on & dress like I am leaving the house so I keep myself sane. :) Next, I get the twins dressed & ready for the day. They come downstairs with me to eat some breakfast.
From this time until their afternoon nap is the normal mom hustle stuff. You know, kissing boo boos, spending time crawling around on the floor with them, letting them help me fold laundry, maintaining the house, etc. I try to do all the housework while they are up. They get to learn what it takes to keep a house clean & they are still spending time with me.
When they go down for their nap, I immediately get to work on my laptop. I check emails first & then I dig into any client work or other work I have.
After about 2 hours the twins wake up & are ready for lunch. I feed them lunch & do the same thing. Spend time with them, do laundry, clean a bathroom, etc. By this time my husband is normally up for the day as well (remember he is on nightshift) so we spend time together as a family.
The twins second nap is much shorter. If I have a lot on my to-do list that day, I try to get more stuff done but sometimes I just need to take a 30 minute nap myself. One year olds are exhausting! ;)
After dinner, the twins get a bath, get dressed in p.j's & have some "twin time" alone up in their room (while I listen on the monitor) & I do any last dishes/tiding up. I like to have the house all picked up by the time they go down for bed. That way, once they go to bed I can get onto my business duties right away. They usually go down around 8pm. I normally grab a snack, my laptop, & sit on the couch under a blanket just hustling & cranking out the work. This is the time of the day that I can really focus. I am also a night owl.
I try to stop myself at a decent time to go to bed but a lot of times I don't go to bed until 1 or 1:30am.
What do you wish you had more time for?
I wish I had more time to myself where I could just leave the house with no babies. Whether it be to go meet a friend, go grocery shopping by myself, or go get my nails done. Being a mom kinda makes it hard to do spontaneous outings.
What is one thing you always make time for?
I always make time to take a shower. I don't take long showers or anything but that 10-15 minutes I am in the bathroom is MY time. I can just listen to my own thoughts & take a breather before the day begins. Before I have to exhort any energy.
How do you manage your schedule?
There are multiple things I try to practice so that I can manage the things I need to get done. One, I let my clients know right off the bat that I have twins & work mostly during nap time & evenings. That way they are not expecting email responses from me in the day. I also only take on as many clients as I know I can handle. I don't want to overload myself & cause too much stress on me & my family. There will always be more clients & a waiting list for the serious ones to get on.
I also am a big fan of to-do lists. Physical to-do lists. None of that phone app stuff. I like to write out my daily items I HAVE to get done for each day & also some goals that I would LIKE to get done. If I get those extra things done, then great! If not, no big sweat. I try to make my to-do list realistic. This makes it much more likely that the things will actually get crossed off the day they are suppose to.
I tidy up as I go. If the bathroom sink needs wiped down, I take 2 seconds to do it right there & then. I don't leave it & wait til I have time to clean the whole bathroom. I pick up after each meal (since one year olds are the messiest eaters). I do dishes frequently. I try to make sure nothing ever really builds up. I do 1-2 smaller loads of laundry a day. This system works perfect for me.
How do you find the balance between work and home?
I think setting times aside for business & home is crucial. Nap times for me & after the twin's bedtime is business time for me. My husband is at work during their bedtime anyways so it works perfectly. Any time I can work on my business during wake time is a plus, but I don't ever EXPECT it. If I did, it would just cause too much stress.
Tell us one thing that you have learned about managing a busy life.
I've learned that you can not say yes to everything. To be successful you have to learn the word "no". If a client does not fit within my business mission, I decline it. Like I said before, there will always be more clients. When you say no to the wrong ones, you have more time to devote the right ones.
I have also learned that my house won't be perfect. I mean let's be real. I can't even decorate my living room coffee table without a little person pulling it over. I try my best to maintain it, keep the fridge stocked & toys in the basket so no one trips. There are days where things just get out of control & laundry is overflowing or I am running too many errands, but that is OK. That is going to happen. But as long as I am working to balance everything, it does not happen too much.
I make sure that I put my kids & husband first. I don't want to be the mom who does not have time for her kids. I want them to have sweet memories of me playing on the floor with them. They are only this young once.
What is one piece of advice you would give readers about managing their own schedule?
I think keeping priorities straight is really helpful to managing. If I ever get my priorities out of whack, it seems like my whole schedule falls apart. Spend the most time on the things that matter most to you. Don't fret about stuff that is lower on the list. What matters is that you are spending your precious time doing the things you love.
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If you are interested in contributing to this series, or know of someone you would like to see featured, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!