4 Supermoms Tell Us How They Balance Working from Home with Raising Kids

Work From home
Amanda with daughter, Jane in their home on Indian Rocks Beach, FLA. Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

Many moms want to work from home and be “mompreneurs.”

It would make things so much easier, right? Hanging out in your PJs all day while answering emails, putting in a load of laundry when you need to, running after your little one while they take a Sharpie to the walls…

Let’s get real — working from home is harder than we think, especially when you add a kid to the mix.

4 Work-From-Home Moms Share Their Secrets

We talked to four boss moms who run their own businesses from home while being the primary caretaker of their children. They told us how they got where they are now, what their struggles are and their most useful survival tips.

Denielle Kennett

Everyone I talked to painted this picture of motherhood like it was a gift given to me by nature, like it was my God-given right to have children and it’s going to be beautiful and life-changing. To be honest, it’s all those things, but before it’s that, it’s very, very hard.”

Denielle helps daughter, Lennon walk in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Denielle is mom to 1-year-old Lennon. She runs her company It Takes a Village from home while she cares for Lennon.

She founded her company based on the principle that no one tells you what you really need for your newborn. She realized if she and her husband didn’t know what products can help them handle common problems, other first-time parents most likely didn’t know, either.

Denielle gets Lennon dressed in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

In Lennon’s first year, Denielle had to learn how to take care of a newborn, develop a new company, deal with what’s called “night-time depression” and balance the rest of her life.

Starting a new company while caring for a newborn seems pretty hard, right? Here are Denielle’s tips for survival:

1. Have No Expectations

“You can read every book you want, but it doesn’t matter because every baby is different. It sounds simple, but it’s so true.”

2. Be Prepared for Change

”Everything changes like the wind — like the seasons, and you have to be prepared for that. Don’t hold yourself to storybook expectations or examples because they aren’t true.”

3. Keep Your Partner Involved

“Keep your husband involved, and don’t leave him out. It’s so easy to make a personal unit with just you and your kid, especially because you’re the mom and they want you more — especially if they’re a breastfed baby — they only want the mom. You have to remember your husband made her too. You’re still married, he’s still your best friend and partner.”  

4. It Gets Better

“Power through. It’s hard, but it gets better. I wish I would have talked to more people because I found out later on that almost every mom has dealt with a lot of the same issues (I did).”

Ellie Hirsch

“One day you’re a mommy master, one day you’re a mommy disaster.”

Ellie helps her son pick out a snack in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Ellie is mom to Harrison, 10; Julian, 8; and Spencer, 4. She’s the founder of a blog called Mommy Masters. Ellie started Mommy Masters upon retiring from a career in sales after her second child was born.

After working to get sponsorship for a moms’ groups she organized,  Ellie had an idea to start the blog, which encourages mothers to unite in “mastering motherhood.”

Mommy Masters was founded on the basis that mastering motherhood requires admitting you can fail. Ellie says, once you fail and you’re OK with that, that’s mastering motherhood.

Ellie sits with her son in her home office in Tampa, Fla. Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

Ellie refers to herself as a “single married mother” because her partner travels for work while she balances raising her three kids and running her company.

Here are Ellie’s tips on how to be a present mother while working at home:

1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

“There’s not one way to parent.”

2. Be Really Organized

It’s hard, but just do it, Ellie says

3. Set Goals and Deadlines for Yourself

“Know what you’re trying to accomplish — If you go through the week and say, ‘whenever I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it,’ you will mostly likely not get to it.”

4. Be Flexible

“When you’re balancing so many plates in the air, some days they will come crashing down and that’s fine. You have to realize that’s OK,” she says. “If you’re trying to do it all and be perfect, you’re lying to yourself.”

Colleen McGrath Lilley

“There are a lot of wonderful things about being a mom in my 40s. I really know who I am. I have had time to have one career over with already and start a second career and really stabilize it to make it successful before I had a child.”

Colleen and her daughter, Marlow, play in her bedroom in St. Petersburgh, Fla. Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder

Colleen, mother to Marlow, 2, owns a music company called Music and Me, which offers music classes aimed at mothers and their young children.

Before opening up Music and Me, Colleen had a successful career as a professional opera singer. She made the transition to music instruction after moving to St. Petersburg, Florida, from Germany and spending time with friends who were involved with teaching.

Colleen thought she could seamlessly transition from being a performer to teaching music, and she says she’s thriving in her business.

Colleen reads to Marlow in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Owning a music company with employees while taking care of a toddler is a big undertaking, especially when you’re doing it from home.

Here are Colleen’s tips for other moms who work from home:

1. Practice Organized Flexibility

“Have a plan. Know what you need to get done and when you’re going to do that, and understand that that’s going to change. Someone’s going to get sick or fall down and they will need you.”

2. Choose the Right Life Partner

“Your success hugely depends on who you choose to spend your life with.”

3. Lean on Friends and Family

Ask for help and trade babysitting services. Sometimes it’s necessary to get in those few hours of uninterrupted time to get work done, Colleen says.

Amanda Singleton

“I asked myself, ‘Do I have the energy and strength to be a business owner?’ It takes a lot. I didn’t know if after all those stresses and traumas if I had it in me.”

Amanda with daughter, Jane in their home on Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Amanda runs her law practice from home while caring for her daughter, 2-year-old Jane. Her practice focuses on helping caregivers to people with Alzheimer’s, special needs or life-limiting illnesses. She was inspired by her own experiences caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s.

Amanda didn’t have the easiest time getting her practice going. She experienced multiple deaths in her family, which slowed down her progress, so she put her practice on hold and went to work for a nonprofit.

After she’d been with the nonprofit for a while, Amanda gave birth to Jane. While she was home with Jane, she received several inquiries about her legal work. She turned them down, saying she hadn’t run her own practice for a while.

But, in a “aha!” moment, she asked herself why she was turning down paying clients. She decided to attend a caregiver accelerator course at AARP that set her in the right direction.

Towards the end of the AARP program, Amanda was asked to speak on the panel at the closing conference. She knew the time was right to get her website up, to have her business cards made and to put her dream of owning her practice back into motion.

The AARP course, coupled with her desire to provide for Jane, motivated Amanda to get her practice fully up and running. She’s now is the proud owner of her own law practice, Singleton Legal.

Amanda with her daughter, Jane, in their home on Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Amanda is the primary parent at home, so how does she operate a law practice while caring for a small child? These are her tips:

1. Decide What’s Imperative

“What’s the most important thing that for this specified day and what can be dropped?”

2. Be Gentle with Yourself

“You want to be all things to all people, and sometimes that’s not a possibility.”

3. Trade Babysitting Services with Other Parents

Having a group of parents with kids in a similar age group is a great way to get free-babysitting because you can do trades, Amanda says.

4. Do the Best You Can

“If it’s not a great day, you get tomorrow. You can try again.”

Your Turn: How do you balance working from home with being a parent?

Heather Comparetto (IG: heatheretto) is a photographer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s exhibited her photographs internationally, loves the ocean, and enjoys coffee and tacos (but not together).

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