How to be a successful mom blogger
She has eight beautiful children and a blog that I absolutely love! She posts regularly and also features gorgeous printables, down to earth humor and practical mommy advice.
Wonder how she manages a blog while homeschooling her children? I do too! Below are detailed and practical answers to the questions you have as a mommy blogger.
How To Schedule
How do you organize schedules: your kids’ schedule, your blogging and business schedule, and your husband’s schedule? Is it all in one calendar: online or hard copy? How do you stay on task?
I use the calendar on my ipad, along with a constantly running checklist in my head . . . which is an imperfect system. I have been known to miss things on occasion. But I set the reminder on ical to remind me the day before and an hour before any appointments or practices.
The husband is in charge of his own schedule, but we do share a calendar, so we know what the other one is up to. And my big kids are supposed to keep track of their own online class schedule and practices and remind me if they need me.
Can you give an hour by hour run down of your typical day? What time to you wake up? Go to bed?
I don’t need that much sleep, which is maybe the secret to fitting blogging into a busy schedule. I am naturally an early riser, but I have learned to be a night owl in order to find some quiet. I usually get up around 7:30am, and stay up really late, often until 2 or 3am. But I take a nap in the afternoon when the baby naps, usually for an hour or two.
This Day in the Life post is still pretty accurate, but now the part of “the baby” is being played by Mary Jane, and we’ve added a carpool to get my oldest son to and from a school that’s 40 minutes from home.
How do you give your children and your blog the time that they need?
I don’t blog during the day. Since I homeschool, I’m really focused on that all morning, then naps, then tidying, errands, dinner, and family time. THEN blogging, after bedtime. I do struggle with a desire to tend social media and comments and emails during school time. But my best days are when I just ignore all that stuff from 8am to 1pm. I am pretty convinced that multitasking just allows me to do a bad job of many things at once. It’s much better for me to focus on my kids during part of the day, then tell them to scram because mommy has some things to work on in the evening.
Pro Tip: If you have enough kids, they have EACH OTHER to play trains and tea parties with and you don’t have to do it.
Do you schedule yourself “me” time? If so, when, how often, is it even possible? And how do you relax?
Even amongst all the crazy of my house, I really don’t think I have a problem with not meeting my own needs. If anything it’s the opposite. I think it must be a temperament thing. INTJs gonna INTJ. I get time to myself during afternoon naps, and then again after everyone has gone to sleep for the night.
Getting the older kids to a point where I can trust them to follow our family rules/not burn the place down during naptime is a big priority for me, as is having little kids who do not get out of bed during naptime for any reason (unless the house is on fire, in which case the big kids are in SO MUCH TROUBLE). Read more – The Myth of Me Time.
What advice would you give a mom struggling to stick to a routine? What productivity tips do you have?
I think the key is figuring out what is going to make you FEEL most accomplished, and focus on that. For me, jammies on anyone after about 9am makes me feel like a schlub. But a sink full of dishes doesn’t really stress me out (especially if they’re stacked kind of neatly in there.)
But, really, I think the most important think is avoiding the multitasking lie. I am much more successful when I focus on one thing at a time, for a short period, like 20-30 minutes. Then move on to the next thing and focus on that. If I’m doing school, I’m not also blogging. If I’m writing, I’m not also Facebooking. (Easier said than done, of course.)
Advice About Managing Your Home
How do you deal with laundry? Share the details please. Do you do it daily? What are the number of loads?
I was a big fan of having a laundry day. I used to do ALL the laundry on Mondays. But with 10-12 people living in my house, now every day is laundry day. We run 2-3 loads of laundry each day.
Right now, kids bring their own laundry to the living room, where it get sorted, then washed and dried in the garage, then folded, and then sorted back again, and sent back to various rooms. I think we waste a ton of time in all the laundry moving and sorting, so in the house we are currently remodeling, we are going to have a master suite for the boys, and one for the girls, with separate sleeping and dressing rooms. And each dressing room will have a washer dryer. So all the clothes stay in there.
No more mixing all the laundry together. Hopefully it will be brilliant.
What do the kids do to help out at home? What are their ages and corresponding responsibilities?
If you don’t work, you don’t eat. If it was good enough for St. Paul and Miles Standish . . . it’s good enough for us. So, yes, chores for everyone. Details are in these posts:
How do you keep the house orderly?
I have reasonable standards, and lots of help. Having to keep our house “show ready” when we were selling it was CRAZY. We keep our house pretty tidy. We do the dishes and tidy the kitchen after lunch, we do a family tidy-up of the school table and common areas in the afternoon, we do the dishes and clean the kitchen after dinner. Bedrooms are supposed to be tidied by the kids each morning before they come out. But it’s not perfect, and I’m okay with that. We live here.
I also have a daily housekeeper who comes for four hours in the morning, five days per week. She is a huge help to all of us and I love her dearly. She’s been working for us for ten years now!
Read more here: If I can’t have it all, I choose to not have the vacuuming
How To Manage a Large Family
How do you balance wanting to share your experiences with your children’s needs to have a private life as they grow older?
I use the Thanksgiving Rule: If I would tell the story to friends and family over Thanksgiving dinner, then I’ll tell it on my blog. But if it’s humiliating or private or inappropriate, I don’t share it either place. I also ask my older kids for their permission before I share a photo or story. But they’re all a bunch of hams. I can’t remember more than a couple instances of them saying no.
How do you breastfeed and blog?
I do a LOT of blogging while breastfeeding. Mary Jane just started sleeping in her crib this week, but before that our MO was: after everyone else was asleep and the house was finally quiet, I’d nurse her to sleep on my lap at the computer and do all my writing, formatting, and graphic designing mostly one handed, while she slept on me.
The other option was to get her asleep in the Ergo, then set up a makeshift standing desk by putting my keyboard on top of whatever Amazon boxes had arrived recently, and work like that. No sitting, but two hands. Life’s full of trade-offs.
Why did you start a blog? Do you feel you can manage it all?
The short answer: A lady yelled at me in church.
The long answer: As my older kids were getting helpful and my day-to-day became more routine and I had a bit more time to myself, I began to write. First, I wrote a book on Confession for kids, which was published by Ignatius Press.
Then I decided I would write picture books. I wrote a bunch of manuscripts, picked my favorite couple and started sending them off to publishers and agents. And . . . nothing but a bunch of form letters followed.
So that was disheartening. I still felt like I wanted to write, and I had mulled a blog, but worried about how long-term it felt to start one. I tend to over-do things. But then my church lady was the catalyst and here we are. I really appreciate the immediate gratification that blogging affords. I don’t have to send it through agents or editors, I can just write something, hit publish, and the feedback starts rolling in.
In fact, I like it TOO much. I have been trying to mindfully step back from blogging to refocus on some other writing projects. But I really suffer NOT blogging. I have things to say about things!
What was your biggest failure with your blog? What was the best thing you’ve done for it? Do you feel successful?
Hmmm. I think the thing I’ve improved on the most is expressing my opinions and experiences without invalidating the contrary opinions and experiences of other people. Which is an important thing to learn as a blogger, because until you do, your comment box is full of very angry people. I think the best thing I did for my blog was post regularly, participate in link-ups, try to improve the asthetics of my blog and the graphics and photos on individual posts, and be willing to commit to a position on issues.
I do feel successful. My pond isn’t a very big one, but I feel like an important part of the pond. I’ve found a great community through blogging, with other bloggers and with commenters.
Do you hire help with either your home or blog?
Yes and yes. I have a housekeeper, but that was a concession to homeschooling (and a LOT of kids!), not to blogging. I also have a friend who acts as a blogging assistant, coordinating sponsorship opportunities. Her maternity leave is coinciding with my attempted sabbatical, so I’m not accepting any more sponsored posts or review items at the moment, and that’s been a relief actually. I really prefer not-for-profit blogging.
What is in your tool box? Do you use automation apps or social media schedulers? Which are your favorite online tools?
My preference is to write posts ahead of time, and schedule them to post.
I don’t use any scheduling for social media, because I prefer to post things on social media at a time when I am actually able to interact with commenters.
My favorite tools: I like If This Then That, which I have set up to automatically post to Twitter everything I post on Facebook and Instagram. Because I don’t love Twitter, so I don’t want to spend much of my limited time over there. And PicMonkey, of course. I love me some PicMonkey. Read more: Using Pickmoney to Make Word Art
Kendra, thank you so much for sharing your tips on how you manage your family and blog at the same time. You are such a role model to me! Many hugs, xox, Suzi!