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Day in the Life of a Working New Mom

I love reading a good “Day in the Life” story. I’ve always found it interesting to see how people spend their time, and especially now with the pandemic changing our lives so much. So, I decided to write one of my own to illustrate how going back to work in the midst of a pandemic has fit into my life as a business person, an artist, and a new mother of a three-month-old baby girl.

Monday

7:20am – wake up before the baby to get ready for her first feeding, make coffee, get a glass of water, kiss husband good morning and goodbye as he leaves for work.

7:30am – wake up baby Mila. Sometimes she’s all smiles and sometimes she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed just like everyone else. This morning, I get a great big smile to brighten my morning.

7:30-8am – feed Mila and check my email on my phone for just a few minutes. The rest of the time I devote my attention to the baby. She’s at an age now where she can tell if I’m paying attention!

8-8:30am – Change diaper and put her down for tummy time while I drink some coffee, get dressed for the day. Intermittently, I have to get down on the floor with her to cheer her up and even pick her up – she hates tummy time.

8:30-9am – Play with Mila, get her ready for her morning nap. Today I don’t have anyone coming to help with the baby while I work, so I have to squeeze in time during naps.

9-10:15am – Work on my computer while Mila sleeps. During this time I check my email and get my list ready for the day. The list helps me to optimize my time. Today, I also prepare a statement of work for a potential infographic design client and collect samples of our work to share with the prospect. I spray finish a piece of art and let dry so I can stain the edges later.

10:15am-11am – Mila wakes up a little earlier than usual and needs attention. I feed her, change her and play with her some more.

11:35am – set Mila down in her play gym for some independent time – we all need some “me-time” right? Back to the computer to sneak in a few minutes

11:45am – she doesn’t last long with her “me-time” at this stage. She hasn’t learned to appreciate it the way I do just yet.

11:45am-12:30pm – play with Mila and then wear her while I make myself a sandwich. Read a book to her before nap time.

12:30 – put Mila down for second nap

12:30-2pm – eat my sandwich and work on computer some more. Mila takes a decently long nap, and I expect that so I’m able to do some of my more thoughtful work like write, edit video, and review website changes. I start editing an interview video for one of our financial services clients.

2pm – Mila is awake! Get the happy baby from her bed, change, feed, play.

2:45pm – Time for more “me-time” for Mila. I try to do this a couple times a day to foster some independence and she is actually much more creative at this time too, since she doesn’t have us dancing around trying to entertain her.

3-3:15pm – Mila is over “me-time” so I pick her up, strap her on, and bring her over to my desk. She likes to watch as I edit video or do things where the screen is moving. Today I finish editing the financial services interview video and while it’s rendering I start writing a blog for our website. I turn the brightness on my screen down and try to keep this time to a minimum as I’m sure it’s not great for her baby eyes.

3:15-3:30pm – Mila is starting to show signs of sleepiness so I take her into the dim bedroom and read some books to her. I put her in bed, singing to her as she gives me the evil eye. She does not like being put to sleep!

3:30-4:15pm – Mila takes short afternoon naps, so during this time I check emails and schedule clients calls for the days when I have someone here to be with the baby while I am on a call. Today, I schedule calls with one of our technology clients, one of our education clients, and one of our financial services clients. Each project I’m working on today is different, varying from website design to video editing. Lots of calls coming up later this week! Good thing I have someone coming to help out.

4:15pm – Get Mila out of bed, feed, change, play. Take something out for dinner and prep as much as possible while still entertaining my munchkin. I usually wear her while I’m doing this so it helps if I put on Otis Redding radio or 80’s dance music and dance around the kitchen. This is fun for both of us!

5:15pm – Daddy gets home so I hand Mila over to him, get myself a glass of wine and work on my art a bit. I have a piece that is almost finished so I want to get that one done before his mom comes to stay with us to help with the baby this week. That way I can put this piece in storage to get it out of the way. House gets cramped with 4 people in it!

5:30pm – Mila needs to squeeze in one last catnap before bedtime, so we put her down for this nap now and continue making dinner, I respond to some emails to confirm my upcoming calls and meetings later this week, and we hang out and listen to music while we cook.

6pm – wake up baby Mila – she resists, but it’s time for our nighttime routine.

6-6:45pm – feed and change diaper, sit down at the table as a family for dinner time. Mila is a handful so we put her in her swing next to us for as long as she’ll tolerate it, but eventually we have to get her out and take turns holding her. She loves to be held and watch us eat, particularly daddy. One arm around the baby, one arm to eat with. It works! The dinner table routine is new for us. We wanted to lay a good foundation of dinner time and the celebration of food for Mila and thought it’s never too early to start. Gone are the days of eating on the couch in front of the television. Turns out, we love this so much more anyway!!

6:45pm – clean up dinner stuff and get ready for our evening walk.

7-7:15pm – walk around the neighborhood, chatting about life, our day, the future, weekend plans, how crazy this pandemic is, whatever comes to mind.

7:15-8:15pm – bath time, pajamas, last feeding and story-time for Mila. Our intention is to get her in bed by 8pm, so we’re a little late tonight, but we’ll just have to try again tomorrow.

8:15-9:30pm – mommy and daddy time! We hang out, watch some tv (usually Big Bang Theory or Ridiculousness), and get sleepy quick. Both of our days are hectic, so we get tired so early these days!

9:30pm – bedtime. We are spent. Mila wakes up once or twice in the night, but she goes back to sleep. No more night feedings, thankfully, although a big part of me misses those quiet moments feeding her in the dark late at night.

This is a pretty hectic day because I am alone with the baby all day, but I try to stay organized to make it work. On days when I have someone to care for Mila, I get so much more work done. The days with a caregiver are almost like regular work days, although having a 3 month old baby in the house can be a little distracting at times, even when someone else is watching her. We make it work. My best windows for productivity are in the morning. I’m fresh, rested, and have a cup of coffee in hand.

We’d love to hear from you – what is your day working at home like? What is your most productive time of day?

Quick Tips: Save Time When Working from Home

by Michael Premo, Senior Content Manager

More people are working from home than ever before. The team at Pinstripe Marketing have been doing it for years and truly appreciate the flexibility it gives us. But, there are things at home that occasionally keep us from doing our work efficiently. That’s why we need to be more aware of our time when we’re away from the office.

Mimic the Office

Your home is just like an open-plan office, filled with the same distractions and strains on your productivity. Research shows that open spaces don’t work—for collaboration or productivity. Though isolating and restrictive offices and partitioned workspaces provide the distancing required to stay focused and keep on task. Let’s take a look at some quick tips to save you more time when working from home.

Discover Your High Productivity Hours

We generally know when these are at work, but at home, those hours may be different. Once you figure them out, you’ll know how to structure your day.

Set Real Work Hours

Real work hours are typically when everyone is at work or bankers’ hours. But, there’s wiggle room when working from home. So, you should align your hours with everyone else while keeping those high productivity hours in mind.

Don’t Work in Your PJs

Even if you never leave the house, you should dress for work as if you were in an office. This gets you into the right mindset and ability to handle video conferences that simply pop up during the day.

Routine

Having a routine will prepare you for what’s next. A morning routine to start your day, as well as an afternoon routine to prepare for your family before they get home.

Set Alarms

Alarms will help you stick to your routine. In the office, people moving about can provide cues for lunch or the afternoon coffee break. At home, you’ll probably be more open to working through those times of day, even though it’s really important that you take them.

Take Breaks

Short breaks increase productivity. Walking away from your home office for five minutes will help you plan for what’s next.

Run Errands During Lunch Break

The best part about working from home is the flexibility it gives you. But, the errands you have to run may get in the way. That’s why it’s better to schedule appointments and run errands during your lunch break as if you were at the office. Stepping away during your day breaks routine and disrupts regular working hours.

Check-in with Coworkers More

Try to keep in touch with your team as much as possible. If you haven’t touched base as much as you would have in an office, then you should reach out and at least say, “Hello.” If you don’t, then every interaction will only be about business. This is where interpersonal relationships breakdown.

Stay Away From Social Media

It’s a colossal waste of time unless you’re managing an account for the business. Research has shown how the pull of social media during work hours kills productivity.

Having a flexible schedule gives us the work-life balance we need. Without it, we’re more prone to stress and other adverse effects that stifle productivity and creativity.

Successfully working from home requires a lot of patience, empathy and communication. At Pinstripe, we understand how difficult working from home can be. If you have any advice or stories to share, we’d love to hear from you, so send us an email.

Quick Tips: How to Manage Expectations and Reduce Conflict When Working from Home

by Michael Premo, Senior Content Manager

During this unprecedented time, millions of Americans have been ordered to work from home. Sure, we’ve all had to work from home for a day or two, but not weeks on end. Plus, the kiddos were always in school, so there were far fewer distractions. All of it just adds to the general anxiety and stress of the situation.

This is all so new that you’re probably finding shortcuts and life hacks to get through your day—doing what works with limited resources and a ton of restrictions. You want to be able to perform at your best, but there seem to be obstacles everywhere.

Here are some tips for managing employee expectations, as well as your own. We’ve also included some tips to reduce conflict because you’re not able to sit down with people and have those face-to-face conversations that matter.

 

Expectations

Talk with your supervisor and identify your priorities. What will standing meetings be like? What are their expectations for responses to email, DM, or phone calls? You’ll also need to know the best way to coordinate efforts and track progress. These are only a portion of your expectations.

 

Start with Your Technology

Does your home computer support video conferencing? You may have a laptop from work, but there may come a time when it’s not working correctly, and IT is nowhere to be found. You’ll need to update your home computer to compensate for this. Make sure that video conferencing works, you can share screens, and that you have the latest updates installed.

Do you need an extra screen? Two screens are better than one and improve your productivity. How about your printer? Bandwidth on WiFi? Your kids will probably be online, too. You should check to see if that has any effect on your connections. Together, these are really important to manage your ability to perform and meet your expectations.

 

Children at Home

As a parent, you are facing one of the biggest challenges in your life. For online schooling to be successful, you’ll need to be there for them while they navigate online classes and act as a tutor. This requires you to be as flexible with work as possible. Be realistic with your expectations and communicate your situation with managers. They’ll understand.

There is no striking a balance unless you have a plan in place for their education and entertainment. Their teachers will have a great plan in place. Follow it as carefully as possible and reach out to them for teaching advice when necessary. Books and puzzles are great and limit screen time when it’s absolutely necessary. Video chats and most gaming consoles allow kids to interact while playing together. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than complete isolation.

 

Your Home

A workspace is essential. If you don’t have a home office, make one. Put up boundaries to limit traffic and disruptions. Homemade signs will help.

More time at home means more cooking and cleaning. Get everyone involved. Being a family is a team effort. This is hard to do with young children, but they are capable of doing small tasks. Just ask their teachers. Kids are expected to clean up after themselves at school, wipe down surfaces, even sweep. It won’t be perfect, so try to relax your expectations.

 

Reducing Conflict

Successfully managing conflict is even more difficult if you’re now required to manage teams remotely. With the unique nature of our current situation, conflict is bound to happen at some point. As with any workplace conflict, disagreements and pettiness need to be managed carefully.

Context, nuance, body language, facial expressions, and anything else we use to take cues in face-to-face communication are missing when using text, email, or other forms of electronic communications. Most people hate confrontation. But, there are some telling signs when they get frustrated or feel like they are being treated unfairly.

You’ll see it in a terse email or abrupt conversation over the phone. Also, look for back-and-forth conversations that escalate. You’ll see this, especially with the “blame game.” People sometimes feel less inhibited in what they say when online, so they’re more apt to express harsh opinions that attack personalities. It’s one thing to voice personal frustrations, and another to attack others. If these things arise, you’ll need to stop them immediately.

 

Communication

When you see it, get involved right away. You need to deescalate all conflicts. Even if you’re not their boss, you need to step in and be a neutral party, a mediator to stem any damage the conflict may cause.

If you are in a position to intercede, then take it into a private space where you can acknowledge that there is a problem.  You’ll need to bring them together to define the problem, and each party has a chance to talk about the problem. Your job will be to find commonalities that each side agrees upon, then lay out follow-up actions to bridge their disagreement.

  • Focus on the problem, not the people.
  • Restate each position and offer a solution to their complaint.
  • Keep communicating until a resolution is achieved.

Always be proactive when conflict arises. This will keep it from getting out of control. You’ll find that these issues become opportunities when appropriately harnessed.

Successfully working from home requires a lot of patience, empathy and communication. If you have any advice or stories to share, we’d love to hear from you during this difficult time. We’re in this together, and our community will become stronger because of it.

Quick Tips to Stay on Track with Your Marketing Resolutions for 2020

marketing resolutions_featured

by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

It’s so easy to lose motivation on those marketing resolutions made in January. Problem is that so many things are working against us that we just can’t keep up. This year, you can change that by using a few tips we’ve learned over the years.

Start by Keeping It Simple

Because resolutions are goals, you have to treat them as such. Small, incremental steps are easier to achieve than big ones. Plus, it’s easier to monitor your progress. Smaller objectives lead to big changes, so plot out each milestone.

TIP: To make your resolution easier to achieve, break it down into objectives and milestones.

Let’s say that your resolution is to improve your digital marketing. Just remember that major changes to any marketing plan or process will take more time, energy and resources. That’s why smaller, more manageable steps will help you stick to your resolution throughout the year.

TIP: Take the time to reflect upon each milestone, so you can make adjustments.

This is simple enough, and you may be doing this already. But, what we fail to do is reflect upon each milestone. How did you get there? What’s next? What needs to change?

Deadlines Are Important to Keep

We all need a little motivation to keep our resolutions. One of the best ways to do that is by setting a deadline and sticking to it. No one likes the word—deadline—but it makes your resolution a priority. Any task, goal, or change without a deadline will get ignored or pushed away for other, more important tasks. Add these deadlines to your calendar.

TIP: Set a deadline to keep yourself motivated.

These are small changes, so the deadline shouldn’t feel like a weight around your neck. A deadline makes it important. Be realistic with your deadlines. If it needs to be adjusted, don’t beat yourself up over it. That just causes more anxiety.

TIP: Be realistic about your deadlines and adjust them when necessary.

Ask for Help

Your support network is critical to your success. Be open and honest with your coworkers and supervisors. This also works as motivation to follow through with your plan because you’ve made it public.

TIP: Let your coworkers and supervisors know about your resolutions.

Letting them know about your resolutions will allow them to serve as a support group, plus it gives you someone to reach out to for help or mentoring. Too often, we feel like we are on our own, which leads to apathy and even anxiety. When you share your struggles and successes, you make the journey that much easier.

TIP: Ask for help when you need it.

This will strengthen your relationships at work and build up resilience within your network. Following through on your resolutions for 2020 will build your confidence and strengthen your skill sets.

At Pinstripe, we strive to improve ourselves every year. That’s what keeps us creative—thinking of new and exciting projects for our clients. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. We are part of your support network, so feel free to reach out to us with any help you need to keep those resolutions.