One of the most common questions asked to working moms, one that I often get asked and also ask others, is how to find balance between work and home life. Let me start by saying that I don’t think any working mom or woman in general ever feels like she is doing a good job creating a ‘balance’ in life.  It is certainly an ongoing process that has taken trial and error and is ever evolving around the most immediate needs that surround you. But what I’ve realized is most important in achieving a ‘sense of balance’ is to be fully present wherever I am, whether that’s home with the our family or at the office. This separation is of course easier said than done, but I’ve established a handful habits that are super helpful. Below, I’m sharing my routine and tips with you that will hopefully provide some guidance for achieving your own version of balance sanity, whatever that looks like. I truly believe that it looks different for everyone, but that we can all learn from each other!

Establish a Schedule That Works for You

Figuring out an efficient work / life schedule depends a lot on your profession and your company’s policies. I feel very fortunate that I run my own business and have a lot of flexibility, but of course that makes it difficult to turn off because there is always more to be done. For me, I’ve found that hitting the ground running right after school drop off, around 9 a.m., and working without distraction until pick up at 2 p.m. is my most productive time frame. After pick up, it’s play time with the boys, dinner as a family, and downtime with FMK. Occasionally I’ll get a second wind and sneak in some emails after dinner, but for the most part, that 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. window is my standard “office hours”. I try to schedule all of my meetings and photoshoots during these hours so that I don’t miss out on quality time with the boys when they are at home. 

Photo from our WeWork Office Tour

Create an Inspiring Office Space

In order for me to be as productive as possible, I need to be in a quiet office without distraction. It’s also important for me to feel motivated by my surroundings. While I love my home office, it’s easy for me to get distracted by a sink of dirty dishes or an in-progress home project. Now that I’m at WeWork with the HoH team, I feel so much more productive during my office hours, which makes a sense of balance feel more achievable.  If you do work from home, try to be really strict with yourself during your ‘work hours’ to not allow for household distractions.  

image from Andrew’s Nursery Tour

Disconnect When You’re at Home

After I pick up the boys from school, I really make an effort to move my phone and computer out of sight. I quickly found that when my attention is split between the boys and work, it’s a lose lose scenario. I would feel like I missed out on true quality time with the boys (and of course your children can feel it, too), and also that any work tasks I had accomplished were not done to the best of my ability. By designating office hours and family hours, I’m able to be my best self in both settings and to truly appreciate and nurture my business and, most importantly, my family.  

Write Down Your Priorities

Whether in the morning before I start my day, or on Sunday before I jump into a new week, I find that it’s helpful to write down my priorities. The reality is that we can’t do it all — we have to make sacrifices — and it’s important to consciously decide what areas in your life you want to prioritize and where you need to cut back. Some weeks, this means saying no to a dinner with friends because I have work events and want my nights off to be spent at home with the boys. Other times, this means saying no to a work opportunity in order to catch up with friends and family. Most often, I find myself sacrificing gym time and personal wellness — something many of you moms can relate to! Even though it might change slightly week to week, I know that faith, family, friends, and work are top priorities for me.

Photo from our WeWork Office Tour

Delegate Where You Can

Delegating can be challenging, especially when it comes to handing off things that are important to you – from childcare to a job you are passionate about. I’ve recently grown my team and it’s taken a bit of adjusting to be able to let go of tasks, but delegating has made it much easier for me to enjoy uninterrupted time with my family and to also focus on the aspects of the business that I truly enjoy. You may think that no one can do it as good as you, but the truth is we all have different strengths so hire people who compliment yours and let them help you grow in areas that they excel and you may not.  It’s important to get really honest with yourself here, but let’s face it – no one is the best at everything.  

I also decided to hire someone to help me with house chores, something I feel very fortunate to be able to do. I realized that my hours with the boys are limited, and that I’d rather focus on playing with them than cleaning up the house. Even though it’s a financial sacrifice, it makes the world of difference to me to have people I trust managing HOUSE of HARPER to-do’s and tasks around the house so that I can focus my efforts on growing my business and investing in my family.

To be very specific, because I know that’s the most helpful, I have a housekeeper once a week and a nanny that spends mornings (9-2) on M/W/F with Andrew while Knox is in pre-school.  When it comes to finding childcare, be very specific about your needs and expectations and lay everything out up front so there isn’t any room for grey areas.  (We have a ‘contract’ that lays out pay, holidays, expectations and even immediate grounds for dismissal so everything is very clear.  This may sound drastic, but when it comes to your children you never want to assume.  I also think it benefits both parties for everything to be laid out clearly.)  Also, do your research before you make a hire (I am speaking from a past mistake here.)  Our precious nanny came with a resume, references and a background check.  We called all the references and after meeting here and hearing the glowing reviews, we knew she was an answered prayer and a perfect fit for our family.  This has helped SO much with my ‘mom guilt’ knowing they are in such wonderful hands and most importantly happy when I can’t be there personally. 

Do you have tips for achieving a work / life balance during the week? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. Also, be sure to read our Mom Crush and Talk Shop interview series for more words of wisdom on finding balance from inspiring women!