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work life balance blog

For a mom with small children to be a blogger is a true blessing. I know it firsthand because I am and have been one for 3.5 years now. I left my last full-time employment when my kids were 6 and 2. Honestly, I was miserable – I hated what I was doing, missed my kids like crazy and was constantly tired. How I really started iFOODreal is a story for another time. I really do not have a teary eyed story that I started posting recipes, people followed and magic happened. No. I started iFOODreal with a goal to make it my full-time business. And I did it!

Being a mom for 10 years now (crazy and not without big challenges) and self-employed for a total of 8 years I can share what works for me to maintain a healthy work life balance when I have a house, family and a blog to take care of.

work life balance blog

#1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Kid Free Bloggers

Do not! There are many couples-bloggers without children. A ton of them. And usually they have very beautiful and successful blogs. Because they do not have children (one of the reasons). They have all time in a day to do what they do. They can work on a new post idea immediately and jump in a car and go to a brainstorm coffee meeting any time. Their mind is clear and not fogged out with Sam’s hockey practice, Lila’s tea party and Mark’s never ending tantrums. While I’m cooking dinner Adam will hopefully eat, spending 45 minutes feeding it to Adam, cleaning kitchen from quinoa thank goodness Adam ate and screaming “Do not touch the walls”, they are working. While I am shopping for Costco size jars of peanut butter, processing loads of laundry and cheering for hours at the rink they are working. My recent crush is this blog and God I love everything about Rosie. ButI can’t be Rosie for many clear reasons (money, time and stretch marks).

You simply can’t keep up with their pace unless you have a nanny, cleaning lady, driver, personal shopper and a chef. I suspect you don’t because you are a blogger. I personally do not even follow many food blogs because I start comparing myself even though I know I shouldn’t. I got better at that but it is just human nature. Lindsay wrote about online jealousy and I agree. I don’t follow Lindsay because she is awesome! I am awesome too and I would like to keep it that way. I check food blogs once in a while but I do not follow them on social media or Bloglovin. It doesn’t make me a worse person at all. Instead I follow travel, design and lifestyle blogs.

work life balance blog

#2. Don’t Neglect the Children

Time really flies and when it comes to kids time is precious. Each day is a history and memories. As a mom you know that. When I was selling real estate, I visited a mortgage broker’s house and was surprised not to find her 4 year old at home in the middl of the weekday. At last, she worked from home, I thought. She said nothing would get done and her daughter would be totally neglected if she worked with her at home. So true. Remembered it forever.

I can’t say I never put my kids on iPads or TV to let me work. I did but for a short period of time. Like an hour or so. Then we would play, eat or go outside. Then I would let them be with electronics for another hour while I was working. I also worked while they were playing outside while supervising them on a porch. Also until my little one was 3 or 4 I worked while he napped. I just knew from iFOODreal’s day one that mommy guilt will eat me alive if I worked a lot with my kids. Not worth it. There will always be business opportunities but my kids will never be little again.

In other words, be present in the moment.

work life balance blog

#3. Set a Schedule

When I first started in real estate I remember a seasoned realtor who was mentoring me said to set my days off. I was puzzled how can a realtor have days off if you should be available 24/7. I thought I would just hang out next to my phone and work as my clients need me to. Nope. The point is to let your brain shut off and spend time with your family. I would have one day a week when my calls were forwarded to a partner.

Same in blogging. I am off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Usually by Thursday night my brain is fried and all I want is a glass of wine. I do not take photos of or post what I cook Fri-Sun. I might test and develop recipes which I often do and then remake and post them on my work days. At last, days off are a great time to test recipes that have to be tested, my friends. Everything that has to be scheduled is scheduled and I only reply to comments with a cup of tea in hand. Especially, if they are recipe questions. Again, no pressure on myself, I love comments so it doesn’t even feel like work.

work life balance blog

#4. Have Systems in Place

When I first started blogging, my 6 year old was in school full-time and 2 year old at home with me. I had no money for daycare or babysitters. iFOODreal was just starting out. I quickly assessed my potential and set systems in place according to it. What does that mean? I knew realistically I can produce 2-3 posts per week, recipe and not video posts. Mostly when my little one was napping, when Alex got home after work or during an hour of TV time. So, an hour here and an hour there. I have never been the mom who works after kids are in bed. By then I want my bed too because raising 2 little kids is quite tiring.

I quickly learnt how to take pictures and write posts. I knew cooking and pictures have to be done in the AM-early PM because of my kitchen’s light and during nap times and school. Writing can happen whenever later – during TV time or after Alex got home. I am quite organized and efficient. That helped a lot. I didn’t sit researching about food photography, reading other blogs and browsing Pinterest for hours. I did it fast fast. I had a system in place – kid free time means I am working. As soon as I started making a little bit of money, I placed my youngest one in daycare part-time. He had fun and I got my free time. I re-invested money back into iFOODreal. That is when my blog started growing more.

My point is that you have to have dedicated work time and be organized. When I am paying someone to take care of my kids it is my work time. I have to make money. I do not go for walks, gym or hang out with girlfriends. Trust me I got invited many times. But by now girls know I work Monday – Thursday. I used to even work out early at 6AM before kids woke up so I do not use paid time for working out. Now I can afford not to be so hard on myself. As my little one got older I put him into daycare 4 days a week because he wants to be with friends and I could afford it. I can’t wait for September when he starts school full-time to save $7,000 on daycare bills. 10 years of daycare DONE!!!

work life balance blog

#5. Blog About Real Stuff

2-3 years later I have an immense joy to read posts about our life. I used to be very shy to disclose personal details and thinking my cooking tips would sound weird or kitchen wouldn’t be picture perfect. I shouldn’t have. I should have been more myself. Blogging about sleepless nights, spit up shirts and farts, believe it or not, is fun for other moms to read. Because they can relate. I really enjoyed re-reading how I went to Mexico by myself and our camping trip and whale watching in Tofino. I wish I had done more of those posts. But moving forward I will.

My point is – be yourself. I know there are certain popular recipes that do well – the fact you can’t neglect if you want to make your blog a business. And don’t. Find a nice middle. But sound like yourself. I recently realized blog is called a blog for a reason. Blog is where you document your journey. For just recipes there are a million of other just recipe websites, magazines and books. People come to read you. I read blogs myself and read only those ones that are authentic. You can totally feel right away when someone is blogging for the sake of just blogging. I think successful people are authentic and real ones.

work life balance blog

#6. Set Goals

Know what you want. One of the most valuable traits I acquired with motherhood – I clearly know what I want (besides “time is money” and “no sweating the small stuff”). Set your goals, big or small, and work accordingly. I know blogging is kind of new and unknown industry. Nobody knows how long this profession will be alive. Could be years and years. So, don’t be afraid to set long-term goals. I was recently thinking “Will I be blogging when I am 60?” If I set my goals right, I should be retired by then. Hopefully.

Setting goals will offer you a piece of mind. You might just want to make a few extra $s and spend majority of time raising your children. Or you might need to pay off mortgage, save for kids’ college and remove some financial responsibility off of your husband’s shoulders. Or maybe you want to be able to work remotely and travel the world. You need to know how many hours you need to work for your goals. Because you are self-employed you are responsible for yourself. You decide whether you are happy or not. Which is a beauty of being your own boss. For me, iFOODreal is definitely a full-time career. We have no inheritances coming in and like a quality life.

work life balance blog

#7. Don’t Let Social Media Control Your Life

To be honest, I hate social media. It can be the best tool for your blog and your own worst enemy. As bloggers, we are forced to be on social media. Thus, we get sucked into looking at others’ stuff. Problem #1 plus many others arises. What I learnt about social media and blogging by 2016 is that I picked only few important channels and concentrate on those. For me it is Pinterest and Instagram. Facebook too but on a smaller scale. I do not actively participate on Twitter and Snapchat. I can’t be everywhere.

Snapchat…I consciously made a decision to stay off of it. Just like with Periscope. For my kids and family. It is highly engaging platform, on my part. Knowing myself, I knew I would be snapping all the time. I am already struggling to live in the moment and view life not through the lens of my iPhone but with my own eyes. Think, we take thousands of pictures, store them on hard drives and rarely look at them again. What about us?! What pictures are in our memory?!

work life balance blog

#8. Delete Facebook

I did. This thought might be terrifying to you right now but hear me out. Facebook is very time consuming, especially if you have an app on your phone. I used to wake up and fall asleep reading the feed. Then a few times I got sucked into totally ridiculous arguments where no matter what I did, replied or ignored, they got worse. Facebook creates rage, period. My mood would go bad for days. Instead of concentrating on positive and doing what I love during those precious work hours I found myself “digesting” the Facebook drama. What a waste of time.

Then people would get offended by deleting or friending them. And then finally many people treat Facebook as a real way of communicating. What?! Whoever needs to find me will ring my door bell, text, call or email me. One day I thought “Seriously is it worth it?!”. Going back to “no sweating the small stuff”. So, I deleted myself which wasn’t that simple at all. Apparently it is not an instant action on my part. First my account was just deactivated. Then I re-activated it when I logged in into Expedia with it. Damn it. Then I finally requested to be deleted and still I was given 14 days to change my mind. Facebook is a beast!

I now am way more calm, have no idea whose husband did what and spend way less time on my phone. Great success!

work life balance blog

#9. Go for Walks

Like walks in your neighbourhood, by yourself or not, morning or night. Just go! Working from home as a blogger is a no joke in terms of social life, dressing up and makeup deprivation. Alex used to always tell me “Go shopping”. I know, I have an amazing husband. But you can spend money and accumulate stuff only so much. So, last year I started going for walks by myself. I am not sure why I have never done it before. I used to think I need a friend, a special place or an occasion. No, you do not!

Alex gets home, dinner served, kitchen cleaned up – Olena is out. I walk in my neighbourhood and love it. I see so much just right outside my door. I live in a beautiful area though. But all of our world is beautiful. You can find beauty anywhere and in anything. In the last year I have seen so much – bald eagles, blue jays, snakes, sunsets, clouds. I even found a $20 bill and saw a lantern flying in the sky once. Have you ever looked at the sky? How beautiful it is!

And fresh air…it does miracles to your mood and mind. Somehow, I get amazing recipe and blog post ideas on my walks. I come back home in a great mood, take a shower, sip on tea, read a book or watch TV in my bed. What a great night which could be spent sitting on a couch. Not to mention the exercise!

work life balance blog

#10. Decide How Much You Want to Network

Living in the suburbs of Vancouver and being a mom there aren’t many opportunities for me to network with other bloggers. Unless I travel far which gets expensive. I know there are quite a few bloggers in Vancouver itself but that is a different world an hour away. Anyways, blogging with kids is different.

I have been on a fence about networking or not for years now. I know it is great but realistically not that easy due to money and time (kids). I also want you to know that you do not have to network in order to have a successful blog. You decide. But if you do there are so many great blogging conferences right now. iBlog magazine usually publishes a list. I have been to 2 conferences in my lifetime – Food Bloggers of Canada and ShiftCon. I would probably attend more if I had friends bloggers to go to them together. Clearly I don’t so maybe I missed out on that friends-bloggers wagon or not yet…

Networking is great in terms of meeting like minded bloggers, naturally spreading a word about each other and improving SEO. You know word of mouth works the best. Just like to get to know brands and get invited to other exclusive blogging events. What I would really have a hard time saying “no” if I was invited to a blogger retreat. I would definitely go because they are usually held in intimate settings.

But what I want to say is that you decide how much you want to network so jealousy doesn’t take over you. If you want, I recommend starting to go to conferences and meeting people ASAP.

work life balance blog

#11. Set Money Aside for Taxes

In spring, the tax man will knock on your door. And you better be prepared. Each month put 20-30% of your income aside for taxes. It is better to have a nice surprise in terms of savings than a debt. With kids it is easy to spend and spend money. Without kids too. I am frugal. I could be better though as Whitney has reminded me, which I am trying to do right now as I re-evaluated my goals. But I feel way more comfortable working with the account of my own and not the tax man’s.

work life balance blog

#12. Get Help

As soon as your finances allow you, I would recommend to get help. Doesn’t matter whether it is an assistant, a cleaning lady or a landscaper. The way I look at it is that there is only one me which is a mom, wife and a business owner. Priorities take place and cleaning toilets or scrubbing gutters is definitely not one of them. Calculate how much you make an hour and compare to how much it would cost to get help. As soon as you make more per hour than your help – get help. You will have more time to do what you love and make even more money. Simple math.

If you are still on a fence about blogging and don’t know where to start, check out how to start a food blog and more blogging tips here. I will be updating and sharing more as that is what I feel like doing now.:)

Do you have any advice for moms entrepreneurs? What do you do to make life easier as a mom blogger?

This post may contain affiliate links. When you buy a product I make a small commission without any extra cost to you. In return, you can enjoy free recipes as well as savings on your favourite products. I also shared Clean Eating Ingredients I Buy and Kitchen Appliances +Tools I Use. Please buy local, organic and fair trade whenever feasible.

16 Comments

  1. Ilona @ Ilona's Passion

    Olena I read you all the time. Maybe I don’t comment all the time but I always read. I can see similarities between you and me and maybe because I grew up in the same background as you. I am Polish and when I read your Ukrainian post I obviously had similar childhood as you, ate same food as you. Many things you write I feel the same. Your today’s post opened my eyes on how to focus on my blog. Definietely social media is the thing that I need to organize asap or otherwise I will be lost or probably I am already lost. Comparing ourselves with other blogs .. It happens. I love that you don’t read blogs or that you deleted Facebook. I need to incorporate some of suggestions to stay sane. For me the worst struggle is when I sit down to work, I have so many tasks and I don’t know which one to do first, and I don’t finish them all. It is too much.

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hi Ilona. Awe, that is great! So many people read and very few comment. I love your comments. Makes my lonely blogger job less lonely. That is it, I will add your blog to my Bloglovin and read your blog and comment. Yes, Polish culture is definitely very close to Ukrainian one.
      You have a beautiful blog. Your pictures are very nice. You have to prioritize and pick the most important battles. I also do not create lists because I could never get them done 100% and felt unaccomplished. Like I sat down now and my goal is – reply to comments, schedule social media and that is it pretty much. Next I will go cook, photograph then post. Quality content is key and then social media will work for you. With social media pick your battles, just like with kids. You should be good at that.:)

      Reply
  2. Bridget

    These tips are wonderful! I am an aspiring blogger with a little one and have a hard time balancing my time. Reading this has given me wonderful insight on how to readjust and continue writing. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hi Bridget. Oh, I loved your honest blog. It is hard to be a single parent, work and write a blog. Just set a realistic schedule for your current situation and adjust as things change. You will get more time as he grows and feel accomplished at every stage if you have a realistic goal. Set boundaries for yourself otherwise there is no end in sight to blogging. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health

    This is a great post, Olena! I don’t have children yet but I worked full-time during my first 3 years of blogging and have just recently cut back to part-time so I understand trying to balance things. I can imagine having children is twice as hard but it sounds like you do a great job prioritizing them first. It is impossible to do it all but as long as they are happy then you are doing something right. 🙂

    We are thinking of starting a family soon and I often wonder how I am going to keep up with all of it. This will be very helpful advice for me!

    Reply
    • Olena

      Save the post for later, Sarah. You will need it.:) And travel to as many places before you have kids as you can. Like I said in Portland I could just envy civilized adults eating inside those downtown restaurants LOL. You will figure it out and in fact blogging is the best job for moms with little kids. You will see.:)

      Reply
  4. Vera @ Vera'sCooking

    Hey, Olena! As always, I love your “Blogging Tips” series. I learnt a lot reading them, but still struggling to find that balance. I thought when kids get older I’ll have more time, not at all! Not yet, at least. Just so you know, I don’t mind checking out conferences. I have never been to one, and definitely would go if I had someone to go with. I’m a blogger with kids who’s also Ukrainian, and we live so close 😉

    Reply
    • Olena

      I don’t think there will ever be enough time until kids are in college and out of the house. That might be a bit too late for blogging.:) I found baby stage and older kids stage the easiest for blogging. Baby is sleeping a lot or kids are more or less sufficient to feed themselves and play outside. The worst was toddler stage with them being everywhere. Other than that it all comes down to organization and prioritazion. Just exactly the points above. I find myself being able to work even with kids at home and when at the sports too. I either edit photos, write posts on my phone or shop for groceries during their hockey practices.
      I have a very good friend who doesn’t work and is busy all the time. She has older kids too. She goes to gym for a few hours every morning, loves her 3 floor house to be in a show home condition and even garage floor and driveway have to be spotless. Of course, she has no time but she and her house are very well taken care of. Gorgeous. Whatever works for who. I have to work so my showhome has to suffer a bit but work gets done. Another successful realtor taught me “Your house maybe spotless but have you made any money?!”. I remembered that too. So, pick your battles. You have 3 girls in school.:) Get on social media ASAP with some vertical images.:)
      How far are you willing to travel for a conference?

      Reply
      • Vera @ Vera'sCooking

        Oh wow, I have to remember this one “Your house maybe spotless but have you made any money?!” Yes, three girls are at school and on different schedules, and I’m still their ” taxi”, that’s why it’s hard for me to balance things since I’m always on the go. You’re sure good at it. At this point I wouldn’t travel far, but somewhere local, I’m talking Vancouver – Seattle. .. would love to go. Also, feel free to give me a shout out next time you’re in Bellingham 🙂

        Reply
        • Olena

          I know the taxi problem. It sucks. I think your best chunk of time is those 6 hours they are in school. Bellingham this summer – for sure.:) Last time it was strictly biking trip. I got a map for hiking around Mt.Baker – we should take kids midweek in summer to a few trails. xoxo

          Reply
  5. Katya @ Little Broken

    Olena! I so so loved your post! Especially part about setting a schedule when you have kids at home. I can so relate to that and still struggling. But all of your tips were so awesome and I loved that you wrote it from a moms perspective b/c I agree so many single bloggers out there and it’s totally different.

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hi Katya. I just read about you and was surprised to learn you have kids. I always thought you are young and free. Must be your young looks.:) Hope some of these can help you.:)

      Reply
  6. Katy | Her Cup of Joy

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been reading your blog since you first started. I created my own blog last year and was really into it, then I got drained from all the work of blogging. I was pregnant and had a toddler plus a full time job outside the home. But now I feel even more drained with a baby and toddler. My goal is to start blogging again, but I love all your tips! It really is hard to fit it all in and keep people interested

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hi Katy. I remember you. Congratulations on your kids. This is a very difficult stage of your life – to care for baby and a toddler. If I were you I think I would se realistic goals like blog every week or few weeks. Then I would make sure that only post is my absolutely best. I also would blog about something real life so it doesn’t really interfere with my real life. For example, a recipe, baby food, toddler and baby fitness etc.
      You are right about keeping people interested. Blogosphere is so crowded today. I think it comes down to real authenticity now. Unique stands out. Just being yourself. Real life things. People are nosy. I read babies and moms blogs who post recipes and workouts although I am not interested in babies anymore LOL but I appreciate other content and their stories. Good luck!

      Reply
        • Olena

          Fun stage of life.:) I had a baby and very well behaved 4 year old. My personality can’t handle toddler and a baby. I just remember being sleep deprived and physically exhausted. Now with 9 and 5 year old I sleep very good but I am exhausted mentally from parenting pre-teen and answering all questions of the world.:) All good. I am looking forward seeing your new blog posts.:) Stay strong, mama. Time flies.

          Reply

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