Motherly @ Work features the stories and insights of modern women growing their careers—and their families.
A little over two years ago, Alysse Litster was expecting her second child, a girl this time, and her family was struggling to makes ends meet. Her firstborn was a boy—Cash—and her little girl would be named Poppi.
Alysse knew she wanted to spend as much time with her kids as possible, and still hustle. So, the retired makeup artist turned stay-at-home mama opened an Etsy shop called Peekabloom Baby, and turned it into a baby accessory empire, shipping over 3,000 orders a month and stocking 60 retail locations.
But it’s not always easy, managing a business, maintaining a marriage, and growing your kids into mature, responsible humans. The worlds are constantly overlapping, vying for her attention.
“Running a business with kids in the house is not always easy, especially when your house is 800 square feet and you share your office with your husband. Our space is cramped, and while I do try to work when everyone's in bed it's not always the case. We have a few things we do when mama has to work and the kids need some attention too,” Alysse explains.
Here’s how Alysse makes working from home—with kids—happen:
1. Let your partner help
My husband always tries to make as much time for me to work as possible. On nice days he takes the kids up to the park to run off their energy and give me the quiet time I need. If the weather is rotten, he'll try to involve them in making dinner or some other house chore. It's not quiet by any means, but my office space is empty and I can work.
2. Coloring and crafts
Sometimes I get pens and paper and let them do a little art at my feet, which they love. If they’re being wild, I can usually distract them with tape or the hole punch!
When that won’t do, and the littles are truly wild, I pull out the big guns....glue sticks.
My kids will sit quietly forever with the promise of glue! I'll cut up scrap felt and glitter fabric and let them make magic. Of course, this is for older kids only.
3. Playmate babysitter
The best thing ever to come by our family has been our playmate babysitter. He’s not old enough to leave the kids home alone with him, but for a few hours of playtime and the promise of some spare pocket money, he comes over just to hang out and entertain my kiddies. The kids love having him over to play Lego and make crafts, and he always comes prepared with a bag of goodies to entertain them.
4. Audiobooks or reading
Audiobooks are a great way to entertain your kids. There’s some great ones by Disney, and it’s often that little extra bit of entertainment they need to stretch playtime from 20 minutes to an hour.
5. The iPad
Of course, we have the iPad, we set up a comfy pillow and blanket and Cash or Poppi will settle in, but it's not much of a long term solution. There’s lots of educational games and movies available, and a little bit of screen time never hurt anybody. We don’t overdue it, and the kids know that when iPad time is done, it’s done.
6. After bedtime
If all else fails, I work after the kids go to bed. What’s owning your own business without a little hustle, right?
Peekabloom Baby’s beautiful accessories (use code “TAKE10” for 10% off)
More Motherly wisdom from Alysse—
How do you make your mornings run smoothly?
Alysse Litster: The key to making sure my morning, and well, every aspect of my day, is coffee, a husband that takes on so much of the work load and brings said coffee to me in bed, and my morning phone call with my mom (which is usually the first call of my day.)
My husband does everything to help me have a smooth morning. We are still trying to adjust to kindergarten life in this house, so to make things easier for me in the mornings, he has our son’s lunch already made. It’s a little bit of help that goes a long way to getting us out the door on time, which is never easy for me.
I always try to call my mom before we leave for school, or when we get home from our morning drop off. It’s the most important part of my day. Ask my husband. I mean, if I don’t talk to my mom during the day I am a mess. We never stop needing our mamas.
The lifehack or tip that has changed my life. . .
Alysse Litster: I think something that has really changed in the last month is asking for more help.
I design, make, manufacture, ship, and photograph everything available in my shop. It can be really overwhelming when huge numbers of orders are staring you down.
So I asked for help—starting with my husband. Now, he cuts bows and crowns, and does 90% of the shipping to the post office.
Delegating is hard, especially when it’s your name on the line and you have exacting standards. But now I’m less stressed and turning around orders faster.
What superpower have you discovered as a mom?
Alysse Litster: I’m not sure if I’ve discovered my super power yet.
The honest truth is I’m just trying to get through the day to day.
Being a mom is hard. Haaaaaard, I’m not sure if I’m doing a good job yet.
Most days my business gets more attention than my kids, we eat microwave dinners more than I want to admit, I wash the same load of laundry at least three times before it makes it to the dryer…
I want to be a good mom, a good wife, and a kick ass entrepreneur, and I’m just trying to find balance.
Maybe balance will be my super power.
This quote inspires me. . .
Alysse Litster: Everyone who knows me, knows my love for DJ Khaled! I seriously love him, I can’t get enough. I mean it’s funny and it’s silly, but he comes from the best place. I’ve kept his appearance on Ellen on my PVR for months now, and I seriously watch it once a week.
He’s preaching some seriously good lessons. He talks about “they.” “They” are those people bringing you down. He’s totally got it. You have to stay away from the negativity, and on social media that can be so hard.
Let the doubters keep you hungry for more success.
I want to be the best bow shop out there. I want to be snap chatting about bows with DJ Khaled!
To me Motherly means…
Alysse Litster: Love & patience. I’m not sure if I’m doing right, but I hope my kids think I am.
Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly’s momboss series and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.