Chat/AMA on "Blogging and Parenting" with Melissa of MamaGourmand (3/13/20)

Melissa Erdelac of MamaGourmand discusses blogging & parenting with us!

As a food blogger Melissa specializes in delicious, easy-to-make, family-friendly recipes. She is a Midwestern wife and mother of four who obsesses about food loves to prepare gourmet-quality recipes, but is always short on time and energy!

Also, now’s the chance to listen to her episode on Eat Blog Talk, “Raising a Blog and a Family”, if you haven’t already.

POST QUESTIONS BELOW and/or join us on Friday morning for the answers!!

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Wahoo! I know a lot of us struggle with the whole working from home thing, especially with kiddos around. Let me hear some of your pain points and I will brainstorm some possible solutions or ideas that have worked for me. Can’t wait to chat with all of you!

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Hey Melissa @mamagourmand ! Thanks so much for joining us for this chat today! To start, will you just quickly tell us a little about yourself and your blog? Just a quick little introduction?

Sure!

I have 4 kids, ages 14, 12, 8, and 6. I started the blog over 5 years ago, so I’ve gone through the evolution of having kids at home to now (FINALLY) having them all in school.

We live in northwest Indiana, where I was born and raised. Never in a million years could you have convinced my 15-25 year old self I would end up back in Indiana, but after we had our first I knew I wanted to move back home and raise my family around family.

Our family loves to travel and camp (AKA getting the hell out of Indiana every chance we get!) No, I’m kidding I love it here.

I started the blog basically because of my kids. I wanted a way to use my mind, creativity, and passions. Basically I was looking to expand my job description beyond stay-at-home-mom. I wanted to show my kids I could be there as a mother, but also have a thriving career.

It was love at first post with the blog. The fact that everything I put into this livelihood is directly proportional to what I get out of it continually motivates me.

My biggest struggle as a mom now isn’t so much finding the time, but turning it off. I love what I do, but it’s hard to step away and be present with the endless TO DO lists and social media pressures.

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I go through stretches where turning it off is REALLY hard for me, too. There’s always so much to do ALL THE TIME. It’s like we need to create strict boundaries, but then the “work clutter” builds up in my head!

Hey there! Do you have any systems in place (business or family) that help you to be as efficient as possible with your time as a busy working mom?

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Hey Bethany!

When my kids were home with me I would use other moms to trade off drop off and pick ups at preschool. Even though they didn’t take a lot of physical time it was all those wasted moments settling in and out of work that got sucked up the most.

My parents would also help with drop off and pick ups or you could hire a sitter or college student. One day a week my parents would pick up my son from preschool and then take him to lunch and a park after. That meant I had an ENTIRE DAY to work.

When you have limited time to work it’s important to use it very efficiently! That means not jumping in and out of tasks.

It sounds corny, but I would do a lot of talking to myself. Like, “Okay Melissa, right now you are going to edit these photos and ONLY edit these photos.” Then I would set a timer on my phone for 30 minutes and would have to stay entirely on task that whole time.

When the timer rings, I get up, stretch, respond to texts or emails, try to ignore all the chocolate in my house, and set the timer again.

When I had napping work time, I tried to ignore all those nagging household chores, like emptying a dishwasher or folding laundry, and get straight to work. If it was something I could do while my kids were up, then I let it wait!

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As far as not working…I gave up my phone and computer in the evenings during Lent. I’ll tell you what, I really look forward to that time! I know it’s not even an option, so it doesn’t stress me out. I’ve actually been able to read books for enjoyment again!

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It seems so simple, but there is such power in what you said about just being very efficient about the time you DO have to work. I love that!

This is great! I’m mostly home with my 2 preschool-aged kids, so I often have to tell myself, what project is going to be the most impactful? I can’t do it all! Also, my cleaning, etc. just doesn’t get done. :joy: That’s probably my biggest tradeoff.

I very type A with a lot of OCD (good times!) so ignoring housework is agony for me! I have to go in the other room so I don’t see it.

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Melissa, I know you have a super supportive husband to help protect your time for you but what recommendations do you have for single moms who are having a hard time finding time to squeeze work in?

This may not be something they want to hear, but getting up early should be your new BFF. Before the kids get up can be your golden hour or two of uninterrupted work.

For me, I like to front load my day with work so when the evenings come I have time to relax. It’s important to put yourself as a priority too!

During the daytime hours you can arrange playdate swaps with other moms to have some uninterrupted time. Or take them somewhere where they can be entertained while you work, like an inflatable bounce house gym (much cheaper than hiring a nanny!) Also I would use my local library when the kids were young. They have story hour programs where you can sit outside and work while they are with the other kids and librarian.

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So, this question has special relevance for right now. Here in Oregon they just closed all schools for two weeks because of COVID-19. (Although one is spring break.) So, how do you handle work on days when your kids are sick or home?

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Getting up early is a biggie! We all resist it because we’re exhausted, but it’s a game changer. I am SO productive in the early mornings.

Melissa, these questions are from Emily from Emily’s Wholesome Kitchen:
How do I blog with a 1-year-old and 6-year-old who I homeschool?
What is a realistic time frame for working daily?

Ugh, I think we are all going to be dealing with that. I expect after today kids will be done in my district too.

Well, to be honest, this is where we all have a huge advantage over other working parents. I’ll admit there is some guilt when my kids are sick and to work alongside them all day, but if they just want to rest and veg I’d take full advantage!

I think what disrupts my day more than being home is the nonstop cycle of appointments - doctor, dentist, orthodontists, hair cuts, yada, yada.

For these I do my best to schedule first thing in the morning or after school. I try to protect my “working hours” as much as possible. It’s important to remember that even though you are home, you shouldn’t always be available! I wouldn’t schedule an appointment at 12:00 and expect my husband to leave work and take the kids somewhere, so I show the same respect for myself.

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Also along these lines, batching appointments is helpful for me!

Hi Emily!
As far as homeschooling, if you are married, you could lean on your husband for teamwork. Break up the school day in segments and leave time for him to take over after dinner so you can get some work done.

Another option is to get more familiar with artificial lighting so you aren’t restricting your shooting hours. You could invest in an artificial lighting course. Joanie Simon from the Bite Shot has a great course.

Early mornings will also be key for those uninterrupted work times. If you have a homeschooling community you could possibly do some sort of collaborative lessons where you trade off sessions.

Audrey Roberts from mamaknowsglutenfree.com is a friend of mine and very sweet and helpful. She also homeschools and blogs, so reach out to other bloggers that are in the same boat. Maybe you can start a mastermind group together!

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