Mixing work and motherhood is not for the faint of heart, but if you feel like you are constantly playing the work + kids balancing act, this episode is for you! Arianna Vernier, creator behind Ditch the Classroom Podcast, sits down with me to talk about how a work-from-home business and kids can *actually* work.
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Motherhood + TeachersPayTeachers
Erin: Hello there, my seller friends. Today I am sitting down with a working mom friend of mine who just gets it. Arianna, host of The Ditch the Classroom Podcast, is sitting down with me for today’s episode to talk about her tips for juggling motherhood and running an online business. And I love this episode because there are so many good little time management gems throughout the entire conversation. So even if you aren’t a parent, I highly recommend listening in because I guarantee you will walk away with at least one tip to help you manage your time better.
I am so excited to welcome Arianna to our show today. And this is kind of a different show than we’ve done in the past. Lately on the podcast, we’ve been branching out and looking beyond the TpT world. And it’s always really cool when we cross paths with someone who gets what we do but is in a slightly different niche than us. And this is exactly the case today. So Arianna is the host of The Ditch the Classroom Podcast. And I’m going to let you take it from here, Arianna, because I think your story is so cool. And tell us how you got to the point where you are today and what you do today?
How did you get started?
Arianna: Thank you so much for having me. I was a teacher for three years. Growing up, that’s what I always wanted to be, but just above that was always wanting to be a mom. And once I got into the teaching world, absolutely loved my students. Didn’t love all the extra expectations placed on teachers which I know a lot of your listeners probably agree and very quickly realized to be the kind of mom that I wanted to be, to be able to pour into my future kids, I wasn’t sure that teaching was really going to allow me to do that. And my husband I actually got in a pretty big argument because he just told me that I couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom.
I get that now. But at the time, it really hurt. But we needed that second income in order for us to be able to live the life we want to live, to take vacations with their kids and just get debt free and all that. And so now I understand that. But it really hurt my heart at the beginning. But then when I got pregnant with my daughter my third year of teaching, we talked about me at least being there for the first year of her life when she was so itty bitty.
So the plan was for me to take just a year off of teaching and be home with her and then go back once she turned one year old. But things don’t always work as planned which is great for me the way that this worked out. The day that I actually went into labor, I read about being a virtual assistant. And I’m like, what is this? I didn’t even know this was a thing. Like is this something I could do? One of my first questions was, is this like MLM, direct sales?
Arianna: I didn’t really want that. So I started exploring it. I had my daughter, and then every time she was napping or I was nursing, I was just learning as much as I could about this world. And within six months, I had replaced my teaching income. And now I’m home with her. I mean she’s in daycare three days a week now because she loves the social life.
Erin: Oh yeah.
Arianna: But now I get to be home with her on the days she’s not in school and really pour into her. And now I help other moms and teachers start their virtual assistant businesses so that they can work from home with their babies too. So it’s a passion of mine. I love it so much.
Erin: Oh my gosh. I love this for so many reasons. So I can think of I mean just off the top of my head at least five people, five TpT sellers who also have VA businesses on the side because that’s the path that happens for a lot of TpT sellers. Maybe to earn the extra income while they’re growing their TpT business. A lot of people just discover that they love the VA side of things and like the business side of things and find the VA route that way. So this is like a really cool path for anyone in our audience listening who has ever thought about the VA side of things.
So if you have, definitely check out Arianna’s podcast where she talks more about that. But I wanted to speak to the motherhood side of things because let’s just be real here. Working from home with kids isn’t easy. So when you said the daycare thing, I was thinking, I remember when I first started my kids in childcare and I was working from home. I felt kind of guilty and I felt like I had to like make excuses for why I was still sending my child to daycare while I was at home.
But in reality, you can’t actually work a job with a child. Like a child is a job. So it’s like there’s such a misconception with people who haven’t attempted that in the past. So what I’m trying to say is I applaud your decision to send your daughter to daycare because like you said, it’s so good for them. My kids are so much happier when they’re in school with their friends, and you can just get so much more done. So it’s a happier situation for everyone.
Arianna: And we just put her into daycare so this is a new development just over the last like three months. So she’s almost two and a half. Most of her life, she’s been home with me and I’ve been juggling both. I’ve learned a lot.
Erin: So it’s interesting as my kids are getting older, and they’re in school by law, not by choice anymore. There’s still something to be said about being able to work from home because even if they’re at school, you still have that peace of mind that you’re there for them if the school calls and they’re sick or it’s just, oh, it’s so amazing.
But of course, with parenting in general comes a lot of struggles, and there are just so many mindset things that go with parenting and I think motherhood specifically just because women tend to be the ones that carry the guilt more. My husband’s always like, you think too much. So let’s talk about some of the struggles that we face while parenting and trying to work from home. I know we’ve talked about the guilt piece. I think that’s probably the biggest piece. What would you say is one of the hardest things about juggling parenting and running your own business?
What is one of the hardest things about juggling motherhood and a business?
Arianna: I think outside of the guilt is the feeling pulled in 10 million directions and like you aren’t giving your full self to anything. If your kids are home with you and you’re trying to work, you’re balancing okay, I’m getting this done but then I got to get them a snack and okay, I’m getting this done but then they’re wanting me to come play with them. And you feel guilty for not giving the full attention, but it’s also like you’re not giving your full energy and reaching those goals that you could if you were able to give that 100% attention to either/or.
Erin: Absolutely. Well, you are here today to share with us some tips about juggling motherhood and running an online business, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to share with us today because I feel like a constant work in progress when it comes to the balancing act and I’m sure anyone who parents and is in the business world feels the same. So let’s start with tip number one. What would you say is a great tip for juggling parenthood and running your business?
What is your best tip for juggling motherhood and a business?
Arianna: Yeah. So number one right off the bat is get yourself some sort of planner. And as teachers, a lot of us use planners already. So I typically recommend to have like all areas of your life in one planner. You don’t need 10 million because then it’s just harder to keep track of your life. Find one that works for you that has room for every piece of your life. So if you’re still teaching, have an area for that, just your life in general, and then your business.
I personally love the Horacio planner. It’s just kind of like a bullet format so you can really make it into what you need. And so I plug in my times for the day, and I’m able to really easily time block in there. I do recommend their vertical layout. The horizontal is not as easy to use. If you don’t use a paper planner, you can do like a digital system. I also love Trello. And you can also do a combo of both. So I’m one of those people, like I kind of have a very high overview of my week in my planner, but then I have like the smaller to do’s listed out in my digital, my Trello.
Erin: I love that.
Arianna: So I really recommend planning ahead of time. I try to plan out my week the Thursday before. That way I can really see what I have coming down the pike. And also, try to leave some white space in there so that your schedule can be flexible because you have kids. I mean they’re going to get sick, they’re going to have a meltdown, they’re going to have things going on. And so if you can try to leave some wiggle room in that schedule, that’s going to allow you to feel a lot less stressed. And also, another tip is, it’s still in this tip of planning.
Erin: Yeah, yeah. I love it.
Arianna: You need to time block out what you’re working on and try to batch your work so you’re doing similar things together so you’re not switching between hemispheres of your brain. You’re going to be a lot more focused if you try to get similar tasks done together. So like group your admin tasks together, like managing your email and things like that. Maybe creating new products in one chunk of time. And that way you’re staying in that same zone.
Erin: I love that. Well, I am a huge fan of batching and time blocking. I think that’s such a nice way to conserve your mental space because I swear it’s like that gets cut in half the minute you have kids. We were just talking about this before the recording. We were talking about mom brain and how it’s just, it’s a real thing. Okay. And I love your tip about taking the Thursday before. Because I do the same thing but I usually do it on Sunday or Monday, and I’m thinking that like in general making it even earlier might be helpful because then it’s totally like you empty your brain before you get into the weekend and you’re able to fully focus on your family. I’m going to have to give that a shot and see.
Arianna: That’s the last thing I do before I close out my work day on Thursday. I plan out my next week. And it’s just like you said, you’re going into the weekend not stressing about what you’ve got to do this week. You already know and you know exactly when it’s going to get done.
Erin: Right. Well, and I am totally guilty of collecting all of the planners. And I say it’s in the name of research because we do create planning materials for School of Sellers. But I just love planners, and I love trying different ones out. And I’ve never heard of this one, and I am so excited to check it out because I feel like I keep seeing the same ones over and over and I love the idea of being able to like make it your own. So I will definitely be checking that out. All right. Tip number two, let’s hear it.
Break Your Tasks Into Chunks
Arianna: Tip number two is to work in chunks. So you have little ones. They’re not going to be able to keep themselves entertained for long periods of time. So what I find is most businesses that you’re running, you don’t need to be sitting in front of the computer for five hours straight. You can break it up, and that helps your little ones a lot. So you can work for 30 minutes and then play with your kid for 20, work for another 30 minutes and then have lunch with them.
If you can really break that up and tell them, be open about hey, Mommy’s working on something right now. If you can just play with your blocks next to me, I can still talk to you if I need to. But when my timer goes off, then I’m going to sit down and I’m going to play with you and we can do whatever you want until my timer goes off again. And that just really helps them to understand like okay, Mommy’s not just ignoring you. Like I’m doing something for a reason, and I will be playing with you. But it’s really important to be consistent about that.
So as soon as that timer goes off, don’t be like, okay, give me five more minutes. No. Sit down and play with them so that they have that trust that you’re really going to do what you said. And then also, like I said, work in the pockets of time. You don’t need to be sitting in front of your computer five hours straight. Plan out your life first in your planner. I really believe in having your business, your job work around your life and not the other way around. So plan out your life first. Plan out when you’re going to be playing with your kiddo, and then work your business pockets around that.
Erin: I love that. I just kind of got chills because, so we’re in the midst of creating our planning our business planning workshop that we do every December. And that’s a big focus this year is like getting the stuff that matters on your calendar first and then filling in the gaps with all of the business stuff that pops up, right? Because it’s just, oh gosh, I totally, I love that. Question, so there’s a lot of conversation in some of the TpT groups between the moms about like what’s the best activity to have your kids work on? Because obviously, I avoided the tablet as long as I possibly could, but my kids have officially discovered the iPad. So that is in our lives. But what is your favorite things to give your daughter, who’s two for the audience’s reference, that she enjoys playing with?
How do you keep your kids entertained while you’re working on your business?
Arianna: So what I think about, being a former teacher, I like to get things that are kind of like centers where you do kind of have to teach them at first how to play with them independently, but then they can do it on their own. And typically, centers you have them rotate every 15-20 minutes. And so that gives you that time to get your work done, and then you can even have like a couple different options out for them. So like three different buckets. And you could say, hey, for 10 minutes, you can play with this bucket, and then I’m going to have you move here. And then you have those 10 minutes here, 10 minutes here, 10 minutes here. That’s your 30 minute block of time, and then you can play with them.
Erin: I love that. I love that. Oh my gosh. I wish I could like rewind back to when my daughter was two and think of all the fun center type activities because I’m sure we were just winging it at that point.
Arianna: Yeah. There’s a lot of winging it. You figure it out as you go.
Erin: You do. And you know what? I mean the fact that I feel like if you’re even concerned about doing the right thing or like if you’re even thinking about like, oh, am I like portioning my time out the right way, you’re already doing enough. You know what I mean? The fact that you’re concerned enough to be thinking about it and discussing it, you’re already an amazing parent for taking your child into consideration like that. So it is. It’s a daily battle for sure. But I mean all these tips though help. It’s like a little toolbox to pick from each and every day when you sit down to work. You just never know what’s going to work especially at that age. They change so quickly. So it’s nice to have just like a box of tricks to just keep pulling things out of for them.
Erin: I love that. So you mentioned the idea of white space in your plans, and I want to kind of back up to talk a little bit about that because again, that’s something we’re incorporating this year into our planning workshop. And I just think it’s so important for so many reasons. So talk to us about white space in your plans and what that looks like.
Add Some White Space to Your Plans
Arianna: I’m actually more intentional about this now than I used to be because I am pregnant again right now. I need white space, and I know that things are going to go awry with my daughter. And so I need white space there. So just I love having a flexible plan. And this is actually my tip number four. Have a schedule but allow it to be flexible.
And so when you have that white space built in, it allows me to, if there’s something that I really want to work on that day, I’m going to have a little bit of wiggle room to do that or if things just go awry, I’m going to have wiggle room to get it all back together. And so I am a big proponent of white space especially now being pregnant. I think it’s really, really important to not overpack, over-jam your days. And of course, sometimes we have our days here and there that we just can’t help it. But it’s important for us, and it’s important for our little ones that they’re not jam-packed and that they have time to be calm and settled and sometimes be bored.
Erin: Yes. Oh my gosh. Hallelujah to that. I think white space is great because, like you said, maybe a project runs over so you have an extra day to tie up the loose ends or God forbid, your child gets sick and you need to take the day off. It’s nice that they get to spend the day home sick with a parent who’s calm and not like frazzled and stressed about what needs to be done on the work side. Of course, that still happens. We’re not perfect. But it does.
It allows just for some breathing room I feel like, and that’s just something we don’t give ourselves enough. But I will say from experience, I know you had mentioned earlier that your daughter was starting in daycare. For any parents who have kids in daycare, I would suggest quadrupling your white space during cold and flu season. Because oh my goodness, I feel like when my daughter started daycare, it was like every week a different ailment.
Arianna: Yes. My daughter was just sick for two weeks straight not too long ago. And I’m like, oh, okay.
Erin: Oh yeah. But you know what? I just love the flexibility in general. I think it’s so important. Plan for what you can and expect that there will be changes along the way.
Erin: Well, thank you so much for this episode. This is going to mean so much to so many of our viewers and our listeners just because I know that so many can relate, and it’s not something we talk about enough. So thank you for the tips and just for making it feel a little bit more doable running your business while also parenting.
Arianna: Yeah. You’re welcome. Like I said, I’ve been doing this now, I mean there’s people who have been doing it a lot longer than I have. But I’ve been working with her by my side for over two years. And so I just want to share what’s been working for us and, of course, you’re going to have to tweak it for your kids. But this has been really helpful in my life, and I hope it’s helpful for others.
Erin: Absolutely. Where can we find you on social media if we want to check out more of what you have to offer?
Arianna: Yeah. I have my Instagram which is @Arianna.Vernier. And then I also have a free Facebook group. So that is Facebook.com/groups/DitchTheClassroom. And in there, I’m doing live trainings all the time, sharing tips on starting your virtual assistant business, and all those things. And then like you mentioned before, I have the podcast as well. So those are kind of the three places you can come hang out with me.
Erin: That’s awesome. And we will link to all three of those in the show notes. So you can go ahead and click those links and see all the good stuff.
Erin: Thank you so much again to Arianna. This was such a great conversation to have, and I know so many people are going to be able to relate. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you again here same time, same place next week.
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