Since having children, leaving my corporate office life and embarking on my own professionally, I get this line of questioning on repeat:
“How do you work from home with your children? How do you find the opportunities you have? How do you juggle it all?”
Answer: Not well. Completely scattered. And sometimes, my toddler takes my face in her hands and says, “Put your phone away, mommy.”
I guarantee nothing will make you want to crawl into a hole of shame faster than your child teaching you etiquette when it comes to electronics. But it’s part of the deal. I chose to stay home and be the primary caretaker to our girls. But I also chose to chase my professional dreams.
And so I’m here to PREACH that no situation is perfect: working mothers, SAHM, part-timers and work-from-homers. At least 50 percent of the time, we all feel like big fat failures.
So what do I do? Good freakin’ question. For the last two years, I’ve done everything from customer service to shop operations to marketing with Project Nursery. I’ve helped build and manage a new national podcast with two former Home Depot executives, I’ve shared my face and writing with Tanger Outlets as the “Tanger Mom“, I’ve freelanced for Chick-fil-A and most recently, I’ve joined SwatchPop! as an on-air designer.
I could share my top 10 tips on “working for yourself” but that sounds generic and boring AF. So let me tell you how all of this came to be and maybe if you want to be a scattered hot mess you can implement it in your life.
In February 2015 Bauer was born. And in April 2015 I gave notice to Home Depot that I would not be returning to my job in corporate communications. And so for a couple moments I lounged around, watched HGTV and hung with a babe that was not yet mobile. WHY GOD WHY, did I not realize how easy that stage of life was? Eventually, Bauer and I got bored and we launched a blog that has since died. RIP Blissed-Out Meg. But, like any good SAHM, my Insta-game was strong. And so when Project Nursery posted that they were looking to hire for a remote position, I had an email and resume in their inbox within 5 minutes.
Tip #1: Social media is for more than stalking. When used appropriately, it can be your BFF in the job market. Have a presence you’re proud of, keep your LinkedIn up-to-date.
About six months after leaving Home Depot I ran into my former boss (who had since left THD) at a local restaurant. It was a quick, “Hello. How are you?” encounter. But a week later I got an email. He was working on a project, and wanted to know if I was interested in coming onboard.
Tip #2: Work hard at every stage in your career. I must have done something right at Home Depot for him to circle back. Did I know I’d leave Home Depot when babies came along? I had a strong hunch. But I did my job. And I did it well.
The Tanger Outlets job really gets me tickled. Y’all, I’m not a model. I don’t pretend to be. I’m a decent looking person that fits the mold they needed for their “mom.” And the photographer (bless him) constantly has to tell me not to look directly at the camera and tone down my big ass grin. I’m going to give props to my social media presence for landing this one (see tip #1).
Before my first blog met it’s fateful death, Chick-fil-A got a peek at my writing. And since I was failing miserable at marketing my own writing efforts, I got to share my voice behind a well-known and respected brand.
Tip #3: Say “yes.” I had never freelanced before. I was nervous I’d write something that I’d send over and it’d be picked apart. But I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes and hit send on my first article and I’m so happy I did. It’s been a great partnership and given me credibility as a writer.
I have a borderline-unhealthy obsession with home decor. And I’m also comfortable on camera. SwatchPop! posted on a Facebook group that they were growing their team and a good friend who knows my passions well saw it, sent it to me and here we are.
Tip #4: Have a network. Share your dreams with your friends. One thing the last three years has proven is that there are A LOT of opportunities out there, but they’re going to be really hard to find if you live on an island, population: 1.
In my free time (HA.) I’m desperately trying to grow this corner of the internet I lovingly call, Mama Said. At this point, Mama Said is no cash cow. But it’s all mine. A place where I can share what inspires me, in hopes that it inspires others.
Recently, Reese Witherspoon gave a girl-power-driven speech about the world needing more female content-creators. Unfortunately, in the same breath she said, “…and I’m not talking about mommy bloggers.” Look, I’m not hating on Reese. Her neurotic character in Big Little Lies is ALL OF US. I think the mommy blogger thing is hard for people to fully understand. I’m sure even some of my closest friends quip to themselves, “Cool selfie on Insta, Meghan.”
But today, a stranger came up to me in a coffee shop. She introduced herself and said she follows me on Instagram. She said she has two young children. That motherhood is hard. And that I make her laugh (If you’re reading this…thank you, again.)
And y’all, that made my day. I’m bottling it up for my next emotional breakdown. Because for every person that thinks I sit around all day filtering photos, there’s a mom somewhere that’s losing her shit and finding some peace in my writing. And that, second only to motherhood, is my favorite job.
But here’s the most important tip of all:
Tip #5: Know when to say no. I get tired just thinking about the many hats I wear. And at a certain point – you take on too much, and everything suffers. So I vow to make 2018 the year of saying “no.” Focusing on what matters most to me: my family. And giving any extra energy I have to my biggest professional passions. I hope you’ll stick with me.
p.s. – l won’t pretend to have it figured out. But let me know if you’re interested in hearing practical tips on how I work from home on a daily basis.
Memories captured by Brooke Whitney Photography.