Read how these 4 working moms make it work“OK, in real life working from home looks NOTHING like this.” – Leslie Bruce

As our Work It-themed month here on LaurenConrad.com nears its end, we wanted to tackle the topic of work/life balance. Finding a balance that you’re comfortable with certainly isn’t easy, and as your career and personal life evolve, you constantly have to shift things around to level the scales once again. So today, we’re sharing an inside look at the schedules of four working mothers who all work from home at least part of the time—which comes with its own set of challenges and perks. Check out our Q&A’s with them below…

Leslie Bruce, Co-Author of Celebrate and Freelance Writer

Working Mama, Leslie Bruce

Q. Please share a brief description of your job and what it entails.
A. I’m a writer, which sounds simple and glamorously vague in a way that might cause you to think I keep shoeboxes in my oven and sprint to dinner in runway-worthy ensembles. But let me assure you, Carrie Bradshaw I am not. I don’t write from my Manhattan apartment to the soft hum of Holland Tunnel traffic; instead I write from my couch while wearing Soul Cycle sweatpants (despite having not made it to a spin class in a year) to the echo of a sound machine in my daughter’s room as it thumps through the Baby Monitor.

For the past few years, my business has primarily been in publishing, where I partner with other people in the production of their books. It’s often referred to as ghostwriting or co-authoring, but my role on each project varies widely (One of my more recent collaborations required me to cook coconut shrimp for an eight-person dinner party). Last year, I launched a modern mama website and social channel called Unpacified, which eats up more time than you would think. From creating content, producing photo shoots and endlessly networking to promoting, collaborating and brainstorming, it is a full time job on its own (I’ve lost days falling down Etsy and Pinterest rabbit holes trying to drum up ideas). After that, I get to write for my site, as well as contribute articles and essays to other sites (like LaurenConrad.com and The Bump) in hopes of attracting new mamas to my brand.

Writing anything longer than a few paragraphs usually requires me to have a lengthy window of uninterrupted hours. For me, it’s nearly impossible to jump in and out of writing, so it’s really important for me to find long blocks of time, which is difficult when you have toddler. So, I think it’s accurate to say I’m more Cat in the Hat trying to juggle a goldfish bowl, while balancing on a chair and corralling Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Q. How many children do you have and how old are they?
A.
I have a daughter named Tallulah, who is 2 ½ years old. (I also have two very anxious, very needy rescue doodles who count as children because of the attention they require.)

Q. How long have you been working from home and how did you make that transition?
A. I’ve been working from home since 2013. After seeing a really incredible response to my first book collaboration, I was immediately contracted for a second, which meant I was able to support myself if I left my full-time gig (as a senior writer at The Hollywood Reporter). My husband and I knew we wanted to start a family in the near future and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to set myself up for a career that would allow me to be at home with a little person.

The transition was both easy and difficult. On one hand, I desperately needed a break. I had never had more than two consecutive weeks off of work or school since I was 17-years-old. Not to mention, being in the news business for nearly a decade meant I was on call 24/7 for most of my adult life. So, I spent the first few months binge watching Downton Abbey, traveling obsessively and going to more Soul Cycle classes than any one person should. I needed to get that out of my system. After that, I did my best to create a consistent “work from home” schedule, which was a total trial and error process. I had to go through a few different iterations of what that looked like until I found something that was feasible for my life, which for me meant beginning each weekday as if I still worked from an office, from 8 to 3. It sounds like a short day, but without the commute, endless meetings, coffee breaks, and lunch hours, I found I was more productive in that window than I would have been in a communal working space. Not to mention, there are so many hours you can stare at a computer screen before sharp edges ceased to exist. My daughter arrived 18 months later, and that’s when things got really interesting.

Q. What is your work schedule like on an average/normal day?
A. Nowadays, there is no such thing as average. I squeeze in as many working hours as I can throughout the day—where I can and however I can. Sometimes that means working for an hour in the morning before my daughter gets up, bribing my mom to take her to the park so I can squeeze in another hour, and really focusing during her naps and after bedtime to maximize my “free time.” She also has nursery school three days a week from 8:30 to 12, so that has been my saving grace. I usually plan my all my meetings and appointments during the days I have our nanny. So I’m currently squeezing a sixty-hour workweek into three mornings for three hours, and five 90-minute naps.

Q. What is your childcare situation like?
A. Are you trying to get me divorced? This is a sensitive subject right now. Tallulah has nursery school from 8:30 to 12 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We also have the world’s most wonderful nanny who is with us all Thursday and Friday—however, she just became a grandmother so we’ve been without her for about a month. Because my business is primarily project-based, I can make arrangements when I need to for additional support if I’m juggling more than I can handle. That being said, childcare isn’t cheap so it’s a real conversation about what is worth my time and what isn’t.

Q. What are some of the best things or biggest benefits about working from home as a parent?
A. That’s easy: being here. As trying as this all sounds and as little as I’m able to shampoo my hair, being able to be with my daughter everyday is truly the biggest reward. Prior to becoming a mother, I could have never imagined sacrificing my career for a family. That might sound horrible, but it’s true. I spent a decade working tirelessly to make a name for myself and get to where I am. But now I am sacrificing it…every singly day. I want to say I couldn’t care less, because I do care. But the thing is, I care a hell of a lot more about the wonderful little girl that calls me Mama. This week for example, I launched a new brand collaboration, I’m writing two articles, I’m prepping for a photo shoot, and I’m crash editing a book before it’s translated to Swedish; I also spent time playing bubbles in the front yard with my daughter and witnessing as she finally got the hang of a matching card game.

Q. What’s have been some of the challenging or crazy moments that have come from being a work from home mom?
A. Well, I think I already covered most of it, but I think the biggest disillusion I had when we first had a baby was the idea that I could “work while she naps.” That’s probably one of the most laughable concepts, particularly during the first year. I’m able to do that now, because we’ve had two and a half years to find a routine, but it took a while. In the beginning, naptime usually meant hustling to clean up the floor after another round of puree slinging, or washing her clothes that were covered in who knows what, or feeding the dogs (finally) or doing the dishes that had been piling up, or showering. You get the idea…

Ilana Saul, LaurenConrad.com Managing Editor

Ilana Saul, Managing Editor for LaurenConrad.com

Q. Please share a brief description of your job and what it entails.
A. As a managing editor for LC.com, I work with Lauren and the rest of the team to create content and an overall digital strategy for the site. This involves everything from planning out our editorial calendar to writing and editing blog posts to creating original crafts and recipes to managing strategic partnerships with other media outlets and brands.

Q. How many children do you have and how old are they?
A. I have a little girl who is 2 ½, and baby No. 2 coming in June!

Q. How long have you been working from home and how did you make that transition?
A. I’ve been working with Lauren on the site for about five years now, but when I started it was a part of a larger media company and I worked in a more corporate office environment. About three years ago (soon before I got pregnant), Lauren decided to take the site off on her own, and hired my two partners and I to help her run it independently. This has allowed all of us who work on it now to have increased flexibility when it comes to our workplace and schedule, including the ability to work from home part of the time.

Q. What is your work schedule like on an average/normal day?
A. Since running a website does still involve a lot of in-person meetings, collaborative brainstorm sessions, and photo shoots, we usually all work together at the LC.com HQ (or another shoot location) at least two days a week. On these days, my husband picks my daughter up from preschool at 4pm if his schedule allows (he is an actor, so every day is different for him) or we occasionally have her stay later for after-school care. I still usually make it home in time for family dinner on these nights, but my day is a little more structured and I don’t spend as much time with my daughter as I do on the other days of the week.

On the days that I work from home, I do all of my writing, editing, and everything else that can get done remotely. I get to spend the whole morning with my husband and daughter from the time she wakes up around 6:30 or 7am until we drop her off at preschool at 9am, since I don’t have to worry about getting dressed up, putting on makeup, or commuting. I also often take a break from my work to pick her up from preschool at 4pm on these days, and spend some extra time with her in the afternoon before dinner, knowing I can always work after she goes to bed at 7:30pm to make up for it. I also find that I’m about 10 times more productive than I used to be before having children, knowing how precious and limited my time is now!

Q. What is your childcare situation like?
A. Shortly after my daughter turned two, we started her in preschool full-time from 9am to 4pm. They also offer after-care until 6pm on days that we need it. It’s about five minutes away from our house, and she absolutely loves it there!

Before that, we had a nanny three full days a week who would come to our house to play and also take her on fun neighborhood outings so that I could focus better if I was home working. On the other two days a week, my husband and I would split childcare duties, and work during my daughter’s naps and after she went to bed at 7pm. Luckily, she’s always been an amazing napper, and we can usually count on a solid three-hour nap from her. (Before you get too envious, let me tell you that nighttime sleep has been a whole different story!).

We also have a lot of family members in town who often step in when we’re in a bind. We couldn’t do it without them!

Q. What are some of the best things or biggest benefits about working from home as a parent?
A. Having a flexible, work-from-home schedule (along with an incredibly involved partner) really is the secret to “having it all” in my opinion. I definitely have stressful days (and don’t have a fraction of the “me time” that I used to), but overall I actually feel like I’ve struck a work/life balance that I’m pretty comfortable with—which I think is rare for working parents. Not having to commute or get dressed up everyday gives me several valuable hours with my daughter every week that I wouldn’t have otherwise. The flexibility and remote nature of my work also means that I can do things like chaperone school field trips or stay home with a sick kiddo if I need to, and then just make up for those lost hours later at night when she is sleeping. Hiring a nanny in L.A. is also extremely costly, so not having to hire someone for 50+ hours a week (like I would if was commuting to an office everyday) is also a huge perk.

Q. What have been some of the challenging or crazy moments that have come from being a work from home mom?
A. When I first started back at work after taking a three-month maternity leave, it was really hard for me to get used to working in one room while I could hear my daughter in the other room with her nanny. I know the transition back to work is never easy, but I think I cried the whole first day. Being at home definitely didn’t make the transition any easier like I thought it would—maybe it was even harder in some ways. Of course after a couple of weeks, we found our groove.

Nowadays, it’s often challenging when my daughter is home sick or has time off school for a random holiday that most adults don’t get off. We usually don’t do any television with her unless she’s really sick or on an airplane, but there have been a couple times in the past few months when I’ve had to break that rule and let her watch two hours straight of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood so that I could hop on a conference call and get through all my urgent emails. I had a little mom guilt at first, but then I was like, You know what? She’s absolutely thrilled that I’m letting her watch Daniel Tiger when we’re not 3,000 feet up in the air, and I’m doing what I need to do for work right now. No harm, no foul.

Priscilla Vega, Owner of PR Vega

Priscilla Vega, Owner of PR Vega

Q. Please share a brief description of your job and what it entails.
A. I manage events, collaborations and strategic partnerships for Solly Baby, and I manage artists for Strymon engineering.

Q. How many children do you have and how old are they?
A. I have two kids; Ina is 4 years old and Ozzy is 5 months

Q. How long have you been working from home and how did you make that transition?
A. I started very slowly just after my first was born as very, very part-time. At that time I found separating home life from work life was too difficult for me, so I went back into an office for a year. But I found being pulled away all day from my daughter was even more difficult, so I gave the work-from-home gig another shot. Once I found my rhythm with “office hours” and “baby breaks,” things got a whole lot more manageable.

Q. What is your work schedule like on an average/normal day?
A. I typically wake up around 7am and nurse the little guy, then get my older daughter’s lunch ready and get her dressed for school. Our nanny arrives at 8am, when I take off with our daughter for school drop-off. I’m back home by 9am, so I nurse the little guy again, then I’m in my office until noon. At noon, I nurse again and make myself a quick lunch, then back in my office until 2:30pm when I nurse again and take off to pick up my daughter from school. We’re back by 3:30 and (maybe nurse again depending on his mood), then I’m in my office again until 5pm. Then I nurse again and make dinner/feed the kids/get the bath ready/do the bed time ritual, and finally when they’re both asleep by 8pm, I clean up the house, check the mail, maybe take a shower, do some laundry and at 9pm I’m in bed with my laptop open, checking email until about 11pm.

Q. What is your childcare situation like?
A. We have a nanny that helps me with the kids Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm, and my older daughter is also in preschool.

Q. What are some of the best things or biggest benefits about working from home as a parent?
A. I love that my “water cooler breaks” consist of running into our house (my office is separated from the house), and sneaking in some quick playtime with my daughter or making myself lunch while holding my infant. I also love that I don’t have a commute, so literally every second of my day is either spent working or loving on my babies. And because I work from home, my schedule is somewhat flexible so I can move things around if I need to for doctor visits, school functions and anything else that might pop up.

Q. What have been some of the challenging or crazy moments that have come from being a work from home mom?
A. I can honestly say that I don’t know when to shut it off. Since my work is at my home, I don’t have that separation. When the littles go to sleep, I open up my laptop and get back at it. If I choose to watch a movie at night instead of working, I feel behind the following morning. I also miss the social aspect of being in an office—Christmas parties and birthday parties and baby arrival guessing games. Some of my very best friends I’ve met through previous jobs. I’m a social person and thrive on relationships, but I find other ways to be social these days. For example, my grocery store clerks love me!

Nicole Neves, Owner of Sequin Productions PR

Nicole Neves, Owner of Sequin Productions PR

Q. Please share a brief description of your job and what it entails.
A. I have my own PR/Events consulting firm, Sequin Productions.

Q. How many children do you have and how old are they?
A. I have two boys: Colson, who is 4, and Nixon, who is 2.

Q. How long have you been working from home and how did you make that transition?
A. I’ve been working from home for one year now. I was the PR & Events Director for GUESS clothing for over 11 years. After having my second child, I left corporate life and started Sequin Productions.

Q. What is your work schedule like on an average/normal day?
A. Most days I work from my home office, but if I want a change of scenery I can go to a coffee shop or have a fun business meet-up with other entrepreneurial mamas. On an average day, I walk my kids to preschool and then head home to work at my home office. I take most of my client calls in the morning, and then work on my clients’ projects in the afternoon. I offer a few services to my clients, so I’m constantly juggling a few things at once. No day is really the same, whether it’s pitching product launches to various press outlets or gifting product to influencers to make sure my clients are always in the limelight. I also do events for my clients, which means a lot of nights spent away from home. When my events are at night, I give my boys extra hugs in the morning and FaceTime them from my event before bedtime. Thank goodness for the great technology! Technology is my best friend, and I use various apps to keep myself on track. One of my favorite apps is Wunderlist, which keeps my professional and personal to-do lists in order. Another favorite app is Amazon Prime—I can order pretty much anything from groceries to office supplies to clothes for my boys.

Q. What is your childcare situation like?
A. My older child is in preschool full-time; my younger child is in preschool part-time and we have a nanny part-time.

Q. What are some of the best things or biggest benefits about working from home as a parent?
A. I set my own hours and make my own schedule. This means I get more quality time with the family like time spent walking the boys to school, and it also allows me the flexibility to do things for myself, such as getting my nails done or going to the gym during the workday.

Q. What’s have been some of the challenging or crazy moments that have come from being a work from home mom?
A. I work around the clock since I’m the only one who my clients can reach after hours. If there is a problem, I’m on the hook for figuring out a solution. This means being on a call with a client, and sometimes my boys are screaming, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” in the background.

Are you a work-from-home mama? How do you balance it all?

Share your thoughts and advice with us in the comments below!

XO Team LC

Photos: Leslie Bruce, Nicole Neves, Priscilla Vega, Ilana Saul
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