by Lily Jones
Last week I sat with my newborn son in the Ergo, bouncing him on a yoga ball as I pressed “launch” on the Kickstarter campaign that I hope will make my dream project come true. At the time, my 3-year-old daughter was running around in her tutu and fire hat behind us, playing “Princess Firefighter” and chasing our small dog. It was also the day my husband went back to work from paternity leave, leaving me to corral all of my little ones by myself for the first time since my son was born.
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It was at that moment that I realized I may be crazy.
Though I’ve had moments of questioning my sanity, I’ve been living off of the belief that the way to get more done is to take on more tasks. I’ve been dreaming about my business, Curiosity Pack, for the last year, but finding out I was expecting my second child kicked my butt into high gear. It felt like it was now or never. Though I was busy, I was inevitably going to get even busier once I had two kids at home. So the impending arrival of my son served as motivation to take the leap and pursue my dream of starting a product that would inspire a love of learning for kids and parents.
But given that I was working nearly full-time as an instructional coach and education consultant while also raising a feisty toddler, it was hard to find time to make huge strides forward in my business. But I kept marching on, one little step at a time, determined to try it out. And as I got further in my pregnancy, it felt like the clock was ticking.
Though I’ve in no way figured it out, I’ve learned a few things about pursuing a project amidst a hectic family life. Here are the most effective things that have worked for helping me navigate the family/business jungle:
Love & Balance
This is rule number one. I’m super passionate about starting Curiosity Pack and love working on this project. If I didn’t feel this way, I would have a hard time pulling out my laptop at 11 PM after an epically exhausting bedtime struggle. But when I can find the right balance between work and family each one feels like a vacation from the other.
Get Your Plan On
I’m almost laughing as I write this tip, because we all know how futile it can be to plan with young kids around. But knowing that I wanted to have Curiosity Packs ready for kids to use in the summer, I planned backwards and realized that I needed to have the money for production by mid-May. Which left me doing a Kickstarter campaign for raise the money while simultaneously raising an infant. Yikes.
I initially tried to avoid the fact that Kickstarter campaigns pretty much require a video of you talking about your ideas. I weighed my options: film the campaign video while extremely pregnant or soon after giving birth, where I likely would look haggard and sleep-deprived. Both sound appealing, right? I decided to embrace my pregnant state and shoot the video before my son arrived. I’m so glad I did — now that he’s here I can’t imagine making a video that involves me wearing spit-up stained clothes and speaking in likely incoherent sleep-deprived sentences.
Finite Work Time
This is the key to my productivity. Working during nap times or the small chunks of times where I have childcare ensures that I get as much done as humanly possible. Knowing that I’m using my only guaranteed work time helps me work strategically and efficiently. I’ve also found it helpful to plan specific tasks that I’d like to get done during these chunks of time. This doesn’t mean I never find myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook for two hours, but the accountability of writing down the tasks I plan to accomplish helps to keep wasted time to a minimum.
You know how when you have a newborn you basically sit around and nurse all the time? I kind of forgot about how enforced sit-on-your-butt time can be great for brainstorming and dreaming big. I often plan out blog posts or next steps for my business while feeding my son and making notes on my iPhone. That is, when I’m not spending time looking at him dreamily and obsessing over the cuteness of his cheeks. It’s all about balance.
Some days I feel completely overwhelmed, but then I remember what I want to teach my kids: to live your dreams, take big chances, and love your life. So I keep marching on.
Lily’s dream business, Curiosity Pack, delivers uniquely themed activity sets that parents and children (ages 3-10) can explore together. Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning with age-appropriate activities. To provide equal access to summer learning and help close the achievement gap, this summer Curiosity Pack is donating packs to kids in need.
Learn more on Kickstarter
Lily Jones is a mother, educator, and founder of Curiosity Pack. Holding an M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley, she was a kindergarten and first grade teacher before moving into teacher education and curriculum development. Her mission in life is to inspire people to love learning. Download her top five teacher tricks for parents here!