The Key to “Doing It All”

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-9-31-38-am

Snapshots of my days via instagram (come follow me!)

Last week I gave a little talk during Boston Design Week with my friend and collaborator Stacy Kunstel about how we “do it all”.

Here’s how….. we don’t.

It became very clear a few minutes into our talk that in order to be busy entrepreneurs that wear many hats, work at several jobs and try to be good mothers, partners, friends and daughters A LOT has to be sacrificed. In fact, I was worried we were making our lives sound a little bleak!  In a culture where being “busy” is revered and working until ungodly hours is a badge of honor, I want to share with you how I attempt to manage and divide my time between my interior design business, this blog and social media, my product line, consulting on other creative projects and writing books WHILE being a mom and wife too- and it doesn’t involve staying up until 2 a.m. It’s a lot, I’m not gonna lie, and some days I feel like a massive, hideous failure and others I literally karate chop the air because I feel like such a multitasking bad ass! It’s all ups and downs, just as everyone’s life is, of course.

Things I Do:

  1. Outsource– Luckily I am able to hire people to help me get everything done because I CANNOT do it all by myself- from my amazing team at the design studio who can anticipate the businesses needs without my direction (priceless) to my loving, diligent nanny who makes it possible for me to go to work and not worry about Henry’s happiness and welfare (this is HUGE for me).  I also have a cleaning service come in every other week, we have our groceries delivered via Peapod, a landscaping company that mows the lawn and rakes leaves and a dog walker a few times a week to make sure the pups have nice long hikes with other dogs.  It’s expensive to have all these people working for us (Andrew is just as busy with his company), but when I calculate out what my time is worth, it makes financial sense if it allows me to bill more hours and focus on the business.
  2. Rely on My Husband–  As I said, Andrew is just as busy as I am right now as his company grows so we have a erratic but coordinated dance we do to keep things afloat.  So we have to tag team a lot of stuff now that we have Henry- I feed Henry dinner but Andrew makes us dinner every night (or orders take-out) and I put Henry to bed after his bath.  On weekends we take turns letting each other have alone time to work out, run an errand or just read a magazine or call our families.
  3. Say No– This has been a new one (and a hard one for me!)  Having Henry has made me realize that I not only need to use my work hours wisely, but also that I should only take jobs I really want to do with people I will enjoy working with and for.  And it has to make financial sense.  I used to feel so badly/stressed turning anyone down, but now I’m much quicker to say no if I know in my heart I won’t enjoy it or it simply will not fit in my schedule or work well with the brand I’m trying to build.  I have to have confidence that the work will continue to flow and not take everything thrown my way.
  4. Maintain a Daily Schedule- I am a creature of habit and like to have a schedule that I repeat.  It certainly needs tweaking and changes but goes something like this:
  • 6:00 wake up (Andrew takes Henry while I get ready, have a cup of coffee and check my email)
  • 6:45- we swap and I take Henry while Andrew gets ready
  • 7:30- Henry and I (and sometimes Andrew and the dogs) walk to Starbucks and get coffee.  This little ritual is so nice for me to have with Henry- it makes us both happy and is a nice start to our day.
  • 8:00- our nanny arrives and I leave for work after checking in with her on his schedule and needs for the day.
  • 8:30- work on finishing up daily blog post
  • 9:30- check e-mails and get back to everyone I need to and create my to do list for the day
  • 10:30- 4:00  This varies day to day but in general I work on client projects and delegate projects to the team, review and create concepts for next collection for the product line, coordinate blog partnerships, schedule meetings/ have meetings on site with clients, coordinate photo shoots for next book, etc.  It’s very busy and I always eat  lunch at my desk.
  • 4:00- Three days a week I am home at 4:00 to let the nanny leave, two days a week I have her until 5:00.  On those days I am supposed to work out but often I end up working more or running errands. Some days I take Henry with me for a jog around the lake.
  • 5:00- We go to the playground and park as a family and let the dogs run around and Henry play. It’s so nice to live walking distance to so many things!
  • 5:45- Henry has dinner and we give him a bath and lots of snuggles.  It’s important to me to focus on him fully in the time between when I get home and when he does to bed. I do not answer my phone or try to do any work during this time.
  • 6:45- Henry has story time and goes to bed. The I get back to work on the blog while we eat dinner.
  • 8:15- I stop working and Andrew and I watch an episode of whatever show we’re currently obsessed with.  We do this every night no matter what because it’s our only quiet time together and we know we need to shut down or we’ll be dead in the water the next day.
  • 9:15- I read for a bit and go to sleep by 10 totally exhausted.

5. Drink Wine- Yup, I said it. Mama loves her wine time at night.  Not so much that I need it, but the ritual of having a glass of red at the end of the day signifies that it’s time to shut down, enjoy my family and get some rest.

6. Take Half Days– Sometimes I just need time off to keep everything in check, and being my own boss allows me to do that on occassion.  When I’ve had a particularly hairy few weeks I will take part of a day off to get a pedicure or my hair done (the greys are getting more noticeable!), go to the dentist or doctor– anything I have a hard time fitting into the week.

Things I Don’t Do (Good & Bad!):

  1. Shop– I hardly ever physically go shopping for clothes- I order almost everything online. It’s nice to be able to try things on in my own home when Henry is napping or sleeping.  On occasion I will take a couple hours on a weekend and go shopping alone when I need a break, but it’s rare.
  2. Entertain– We never have dinner parties or entertain beyond having friends over for a glass of wine or a simple dinner (i.e. pizza).  I don’t have the time or energy to throw full out parties anymore- I wish I did!
  3. Work Out- This is BAD and I need to find time in my schedule to do this more often as I always feel more mentally alert when I get a good workout in, especially yoga.  Also this whole “post-breastfeeding weight gain” thing has me bummin’.
  4. Obsess Over my Social Media- This is good and bad- I need to be better about posting stuff every day because it’s part of my business, but I also simply can not curate a perfectly filtered Instagram feed- mostly because I am such a busy, hot mess most days.
  5. Bring my Phone Into the Bedroom-  I never, ever sleep with my phone next to me. I leave it plugged in downstairs at night so I’m not tempted to check email before bed, which I know will disrupt my sleep.  It’s a habit I’ve kept for a very long time.
  6. Work on Weekends-  Since I work all week, I don’t work on weekends. No meetings, no travel-that time is for my family.
  7. Eat Well- Another thing I need to work on- there’s a lot of eating on the run for me- protein bars every morning in the car, salads or sandwiches at my desk, dinner in front of the computer (usually my healthiest meal, but last night it was pizza and ice cream- whoops.)  I need to make an effort to eat a better breakfast and lunch and DRINK MORE WATER!
  8. Utilize Technology Enough– There are so many apps and websites out there that I know would help me and my team stay more organized- Asana has been recommended to me a couple times and I do not use my phone properly to track hours and appointments, store photos, etc. Must get on that!
  9. Have Enough Date Nights– Andrew and I go on a date night maybe once a month- it’s pretty pathetic. We are such homebodies and are so tired at the end of the week we’d rather just stay home and lay low. We need to make more time to do this (and find more babysitters) so that we can make sure we spend enough time as a couple, not as “mom and dad”.  We’re still new to parenthood, so I’m sure this will improve, but it’s worth noting!

There are so many things I could be doing better, but you know what, sometimes good enough is, well, good enough!  Are there any tricks or tips you have that help keep you and your household running? I’d love to hear them!

62 comments

  1. Erin. Thank so much for your honesty – it is really helpful to hear this and learn how you make it all happen. My one question for you…how do you maintain friendships with this schedule? I don’t mean that critically…I am more just being inquisitive. My girlfriends are everything and trying to fit it all in is so hard. Do you give up date nights? Time with your son? Maintain girlfriends is vital as when things go haywire (work, kids, husbands, life)…they can support you in amazing ways. So I would love to hear how they fit into your world. Thanks!

  2. What a lovely schedule! Sounds like you have nailed this challenging early toddler time.

    I will be going back to working part time (in my own business) next month after two years more or less off with my now two year old so it’s very nice to see another mom’s schedule.

    Now if I could just night wean this baby I’d be set :)

  3. When I started following you, I adored your posts. They were short, witty and applicable to home design and sometimes fashion related. Over the years, I have followed you on social media and thru your process of exposing real life issues and the trials and tribulations of becoming pregnant. Now I just think your posts are mostly hearing you whine about hard your life is, unrealistic and just bogus really, it is almost like you are so excited about your success you have to make up things to complain about so you can try and relate to other women. I mean really, you wake up and walk to Starbucks each day pay $5 for coffee and some days you get home at 4 and then some days at 5pm. Cry me a river Erin, Wake up. The majority of women in this world would give their right arm to be in your place with your cute baby, cute house that you love to brag about, and a book and design line. Most women have a real grind, and they come to your blog to have an outlet not see you complaining about your “hard” life. Rethink your approach!

    1. Hi Lynne! I’m Liza. When I first read Erin’s post, some of the points you raised occurred to me too. Her typical day sounds like a dream, and the work portion is a lot smaller than most working parents. She has a true parenting partner in her husband, which is also not something most working Moms have successfully negotiated. But the thing is, she has built this life, and the business that offers all the flexibility and income that she enjoys. She works for herself, so she gets all the control. I think it’s important to note that when you contrast her day with others. Her employees and family depend on her and that responsibility is the price she pays for all the awesome stuff she enjoys. I think she should be commended and celebrated for taking the risks and accepting the burdens of entrepreneurship. You can’t have it all, but sometimes you get more of what you want if you create your own business.

  4. I really love this list. I’ve been trying to be so much better about managing my time and saying no. I actually quit my blog and started a new, purely for fun one as I’m a mom of two and a full time teacher. Saying no and cutting things out of my life that used to bring me joy but maybe not so much anymore- that’s been a huge lesson for me since my son was born.

    Also since he was born? The working out thing has gone out the window. You are not alone! But my weekdays would involve getting up at 5am to work out or doing it at 8:30/9pm after not having a break all day. Needless to say I’m trying to be better but most of the time it’s just not happening!

Comments are closed.