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Successful mompreneurs share many traits. I wrote about five of those traits earlier. But, I realized I forgot the most important one!
This trait can make or break your at-home business. It can mean the difference between success or failure as a mompreneur.
It’s that important!
Wondering what that trait is?
As a mompreneur, you’ve got a ton on your plate. You’re trying to balance taking care of your house, raising your kids, and growing a business. Plus all the other stuff.
With all that going on, interruptions are a natural part of your life.
You’ll just be sitting down to work on a blog post, and your child will need a diaper change.
Or you’ll wake up early one morning to get a head start on your day, only to have your kids wake up early too.
Things rarely go as planned when you’re a mom. Distractions, interruptions, and unexpected events happen frequently.
If you get all worked up every time things don’t go as planned, you aren’t going to be as effective as you could be. You’ll spend too much time complaining about the things that didn’t go right that you don’t have as much energy to put into making things happen.
Flexibility helps you adapt to the changes each season of life brings. It helps you stay afloat when others around you appear to be sinking.
And it’s an essential skill to teach your kids. Their life won’t always be predictable either, so show them now how to adapt as necessary.
Need a flexible work from home gig? I definitely recommend freelance writing!
How to Improve Your Flexibility through Planning
While being prepared sounds like the opposite of being flexible, it’s really not. The key is in how you are preparing.
If you only have one plan, you won’t be as flexible. Your plan will get off track, and you’ll have to stop and really think about what you need to do. You might be tempted to complain, instead of diving into Plan B.
To improve your flexibility, start thinking of a variety of options. Brainstorm four work periods you can have every day, but only plan enough work for two of them.
If you miss one or two because life happens, you still can get your work done. On days that go smoothly, you can use the extra time to do some self-care, or you can use it to get ahead a bit. There’s always more work to be done!
Give yourself padding in your deadlines. This means, if you think you can get a post done in two days, give yourself three or four. But, still set a personal deadline for yourself of the earlier date.
This buffer helps protect your reputation when the unexpected happens. You may miss YOUR deadline, but you’ll still reach the client’s.
Have a list of things you can do when you are able to focus, and a list of things you can do with only part of your attention. Tasks I can do when the kids are more likely to interrupt include:
- Social media marketing (Pinterest share threads for instance)
- Creating graphics for posts
- Outlining blog posts
- Brainstorming ideas for posts
- Updating plugins on my blog
- Adding new images to old posts
- Drafting posts for my personal use
When I have more time to focus, I like to:
- Write posts for clients
- Proofread/Edit posts
Some tasks take more focus and attention than others, so know what you do well with distractions.
Always Have a Plan B
What happens if you get sick and can’t get as much done as you hoped?
Or your child falls and breaks an arm and you end up spending all day in the ER?
Being flexible means you have a Plan B in place. You won’t let your business get to the point where one crazy day knocks you flat.
You might need:
- A pinch hitter you can call (and pay) to get some work done for you – my little sister is mine. She’s great and pulled me out of many tight schedules.
- To let some of your own work go for the day. Maybe you won’t post as much on social media, or publish the post today. If it can wait until tomorrow, let it slide.
- To seriously examine your commitments and ensure you aren’t regularly overextending and getting overwhelmed. The more you have scheduled, the less flexible you can be.
- A file full of partially written blog post ideas that you can pull out and work on to save time.
Think about what common occurrences happen in your life, and how you can prepare for them. Then when they happen, you just automatically switch to your backup plan. There’s no need to stress or think, you just move from one plan to the next.
Realizing that many things are out of your control can also help improve your flexibility. No matter how much you plan you can never account for everything that could go wrong. That’s where having an attitude of being flexible helps. The more unyielding you are, the more interruptions will bug you or even ruin your day.
Instead, take a deep breath, and think about different ways to meet your goal.
Flexibility in Meal Plans
I’ve written extensively about how meal planning frees up time. But, you can’t let your plan control you.
My meal plan, though it lasts for an entire year, is very flexible. I have a variety of easy and medium difficult meals for each dinner theme. I never write those on the calendar, but rather allow the challenges and happenings of each week guide me into what meal to cook.
The supplies for each of them are in the house – it’s just a matter of pulling the specific ingredients out to cook.
When life happens, I don’t hesitate to go off plan and serve sandwiches and salad for dinner.
I try to always have some “emergency meals” that are either convenience food or super quick on hand. This helps me be successful in getting food on the table, even when life is crazy.
If I know a day is going to be crazy, I turn to the crock-pot or Instant Pot to help. This means I have a list of these on hand. I have recipes flagged in my cookbook, or saved on my phone for easy reference.
For more information on adapting your meal planning to your business, check out this post:
Flexibility for Your Kids’ Playtime
Kids thrive on routine, but they don’t typically enjoy doing the exact same thing all the time. I know my kids get bored playing with the same toys, or doing the same activities.
I like to have lists prepared of things they can do during free time. This way they can pick and choose what they do if they can’t think of something on their own.
Having a list of options helps them learn to take control of their time. It prepares them to make good choices, and to think before they make a decision.
About four times a year, we review this list. We update choices based on skill level, interests, and the time we have available.The season also plays a role. There are things you can do in the summer that don’t work so well when it’s freezing out.
Once we have our list ready, the kids can pick from the options when they have time. I try to include a variety of activities so no matter what mood the kids are in, there’s something they can do.
Our current list includes options such as:
- Water play in the yard
- Shaving cream on the table (perfect for writing letters and practicing spelling)
- Pattern Blocks
- My Little Pony toys
- Crafting with construction paper, scissors, and glue (with clear expectations about cleanup and agreed upon consequences for not cleaning up)
- Organizing a cupboard/drawer
- Making a marble run out of LEGOs
- Printing coloring pages to color and cut out
- Making paper dolls and clothes with wallpaper samples
- Reading a book to a younger sibling
You’ll notice most of these are geared towards older kids. I also have some options specifically for the little guys, such as:
- Building with blocks
- Playing with our Train Station Playset
- Coloring in a coloring book
- Looking at board books
- Tossing a ball into an empty laundry basket
- Looking at pictures of the family
By deciding in advance what activities are okay for the kids to do, I don’t have to stop and think as much. I allow them to be flexible in what they pick, without constantly having to police their choices.
(Here’s a list of 50 screen-free activities your kids might enjoy…)
Teaching Kids to Be Flexible
I like to rearrange our days occasionally, just to help the kids learn to be flexible. Instead of doing homeschool in the morning, we’ll do it in the afternoon.
Sometimes we have family play time before lunch instead of in its usual spot following lunch table chores.
The timing of these don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. But, by changing them up, the kids begin to get used to the idea of adapting to change.
I’ve learned talking about change is key for kids. Let them know that today is going to be a bit different, to help them mentally prepare. Some of my kids don’t need this step. They’re ready to bounce from one activity to another without really thinking about the transition. Others need a little more guidance.
Plan of the Day
This is why a plan of the day is essential. At the beginning of each day, you work with your family to lay out a plan for the day. You give everyone a big picture view of what’s going to happen.
Making your plans one day at a time, instead of weekly or monthly, really increase your flexibility. It’s rare around here that two days ever look the same.
Some days, our house needs more attention and we clean a bit more.
Other days, we have an appointment in town or need to go shopping so our time at home is limited.
Or I realize we haven’t done science in two weeks and we should get some in. So I add in some extra school.
By planning daily, you can accommodate for many of life’s changes. Of course, things still come up.
Some days you might need to gather the family around and have another meeting. Here you can talk about things that need to change based on new information or events.
Maybe you forgot about a phone meeting with a client, and need quiet time to start an hour earlier than normal. Or you realize that a couple of your kids are sick, and the go-go-go plan for the day isn’t going to cut it.
Keep your kids in the loop – they pick on up more than you realize and will be thankful to know what’s going on. By sharing the new plan, you’ll give them the information they need to adapt and be flexible themselves.
Make Time for Your Business
Being flexible is essential as a mompreneur. But, if you aren’t managing your time well you’ll never make time for your business.
My course, Balancing Diapers and Deadlines, helps you learn key time management strategies. It’s written for busy moms in mind, to help you free up brain power, maximize your productivity, and create the life of your dreams. Check it out today!
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Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.