Today, we continue our multi-part series on some of the different ways modern parents work, and how they've crafted a situation that works for them. Step into the home office of small business consultant #MINDRMAMA Larisa Courtien, whose bundle of joy led her to say goodbye to The Man and set up shop as her own boss, from home (and who, in true multitasking fashion, shares her thoughts with us in the same week as launching her third business.) Join Larisa on our Instagram Stories today for her #AMA about the ins and outs of work-from-home parenthood.
I know you're not supposed to have it all, but I’ve always been greedy, so I'll be damned if I don't try.
When I became pregnant immediately after my honeymoon in 2016, I didn't have enough savings to completely quit my job and stay at home, but I also didn't have enough savings to put my daughter in full time daycare while I continued to work. I wasn’t making enough in my job, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Initially, I was skeptical of daycare because I was raised under the care of family members. I was brought up by my wonderful grandmother and a series of aunts/uncles/cousins while my parents worked full time. But, like many parents in NYC and worldwide, I don't live near home or have family nearby who are available to watch my child 5 days a week.
Ultimately, I was thrust into entrepreneurship and as a result, I was thrust into becoming a work-from-home-mom. And it has been one of the greatest joys in my life.
When I say work-from-home-mom, I actually work 3 full days a week while my daughter is in daycare. I love it because I’m not beholden to her nap schedule, and I don’t have to work when I’m with her. For 3 days a week, I cram everything in, and spend the other 2 days wrapped around her little finger.
Maximizing My Time
When I am working, my day lasts from 7am to 7pm, sometimes without a break. Being a working mom means maximizing my time and impact everywhere I go, so the pressure is always on. I need to be fully present at work, with my daughter, and in my home. When you’re running 3 websites (I launched my third just last week) you need every second to count.
Being a working mom means maximizing my time and impact everywhere I go, so the pressure is always on.
I maximize my time “in the office” by not having an office. My lack of commute means that I open my laptop and just start. I make sure I don’t get too lonely by having entrepreneurial virtual coffee chats with fellow “momtrepreneurs” or mentoring people through my new business, Small Business Bestie. Often, I’m at my desk, staring at the screen, taking phone calls and video calls, and going nonstop. The days are long and not everything gets done, but it is worth it.
I maximize my “mommy” time by really focusing on my daughter when I’m with her. We are in three mommy and me classes, we go out for play dates, we party at the park, and I make sure I don't work. That means no phone calls, emails or checking in on business related items when I’m with her.
It might sound a little intense, but trust me, I let a lot of things slide. The laundry is almost never done, and my daughter’s too-small clothes are in unlabeled garbage bags, stored in no particular order. And don’t get me started on our bedroom!
I maximize “me” time by indulging in a 10 step Korean skincare routine that can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. I work out in the mornings and - if I’m able - meditate shortly after. I set boundaries with everyone - clients, family, and friends. I don’t overcommit to things if I know I won’t be able to deliver, and I say no to a lot of fun events in order to get work done or spend one-on-one time with my daughter. It’s always a give and take, but it’s always done for the good of our family.
It Takes a Village
It really does take a village, and I love my village. Without the people in my life helping me, there is no way I could do what I do. Being a work-from-home-mom is not being a superhero - it is having superheroes around you.
There are a lot of things that my husband does in order to allow me to be a working mom. He is a true equal partner. He is the one who takes our daughter to daycare and brings her home. He handles the evening routine so that after dinner, I can immediately go back to my laptop while he puts her down. He is the one that helps with half of the household chores (like keeping our houseplants alive, taking out the trash, and cleaning the bathroom). He knows and understands that without him, I couldn't do what I do.
I also couldn’t do what I do without daycare. Hands down, daycare is the best. It has allowed me to be the kind of mother that I want to be - both a financial and domestic contributor in my household. It’s also wonderful knowing my husband and I have educated professionals who are able to partner with us on raising our daughter. Her daycare teachers help us monitor her milestones and are often the ones who push us to move her further along in her development. I get so sad seeing her grow up that I sometimes fear pushing her too quickly. Her teachers and my husband always have to convince me that she is ready. She recently transitioned from two naps to one, and I was not into it. But daycare partnered with us and helped make the transition fairly seamless.
By maintaining my career, I am able to show my daughter that there is worth in working. I am able to show her that although she is my everything, Mommy exists outside of caring for just her. I hope that by showing her that I have chosen to maintain my sense of self outside of her that she will grow up to always put herself and her needs first. I’m hopeful that this leading by example will help her grow to be independent, and to love herself above all else.
I hope that by showing her that I have chosen to maintain my sense of self outside of her that she will grow up to always put herself and her needs first.
There are times when it is really hard. Days when I’d rather snuggle her or sing “Old McDonald” 20 times before opening my laptop. Times when I’m so envious of moms who get to be there for everything. Mom Guilt hurts when it hits. But I think that all moms experience guilt no matter what. Regardless of who you are and no matter how you choose to raise your child, you’re always going to second guess yourself.
It’s Never Truly Balanced
Being a work-from-home-mom also means a lot of nights where I didn't finish the work during the day. It often means there are weekends when my husband and daughter will go on daddy-daughter dates, while I stay at home and sit at front of the computer playing catch-up. Those are the times when it is the worst. When I feel like a prisoner to my business, and when I feel like I’m missing out on my family.
I’d like to say my daughter has never seen me on a laptop, but the truth is she sees me on it quite a bit. There are deadlines that have to be met, or last minute things that my clients need from me. It’s hard because I never feel truly balanced - but who does, right? I always feel like I could be doing more: doing more work or doing more with my daughter. But I try to give myself grace and be kind. I’m trying so hard to do it all, but I know it’s not going to all get done.
And the truth is that if I were to close up shop, we couldn’t financially make it work. My income supports us. So I know that although the long work days and missed events are not fun, they are ultimately worth it. They afford us the life we live. My business is in its infancy, and once things get moving and I’m able to scale, it will be even more worth it.
Being a work-from-home-mom means a lot of late nights and a lot of early mornings. But ultimately, I get to live the life I want to live and raise my daughter the way that I planned - a mom who works hard for her money, and works hard for her baby, too.
Next week in the Ways We Work series, we hear from full-time creative director and mama Jessica. Cover photo by Augusta Belle Photography.