There are two million stay-at-home dads in the United States today. But staying at home doesn’t mean doing nothing but caring for kids. Many stay-at-home dads have successful businesses. One, James Oliver, created WeMontage, which lets you turn your best photos into reusable wallpaper. Now James has written a new book, The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You Can Be A Successful Parentpreneur.
Here’s an excerpt:
Any stay-at-home working parent knows how “interesting” it is to find time to get work done and look after the kiddos. The other day, I was waiting on a morning show TV segment to air in Minneapolis; it was about ideas for graduation parties, and my company was to be included.
I always record the live streaming and edit the segment down for immediate social sharing and marketing.
Two-Year-Old Learning to Potty
Having a two-year-old learning how to use the potty is where the story goes off the rails. Every 15 minutes, my daughter is pulling her pants off and yelling, “Potty!” so she can sit on the potty and flush it to see the lights flash and hear it go, “Yay!” I swear we are going through more diapers now than our local hospital’s new baby unit.
This day, though, my daughter was being really good; she was playing with the iPad and hadn’t said anything about potty, even though I could see her diaper was sagging a bit.
About 30 minutes into the TV show without the segment airing, I decided to be a good dad and change her diaper. I thought this would be safe since TV shows will usually give you a preview of upcoming segments.
I put my laptop on the fireplace mantle near the changing station and proceeded to change my daughter’s diaper. Five seconds later the graduation party segment was on the air, without any notification! Holy crap!
I had a naked baby on the changing station and was not recording the segment. I fastened my daughter down, climbed over the gate that keeps the twins from mucking around in the changing area, grabbed the laptop and put it at my daughter’s feet, and hoped she wouldn’t kick it off the changing station while I was recording the segment and changing her diaper.
No Bueno TV Segment
I rushed to get my daughter changed and put her back down to go play.
But by then the segment was over and, while my product was on the set, the lifestyle “expert” never mentioned it. Naturally, I was upset. Even more so because the lifestyle “expert” waited until the last minute to firm things up with me, and I had to use up a little good will with my printer to rush-produce the product, and I paid to ship it overnight.
My drunk alter ego, Tyrone, was not happy about this. It took all my strength not to do a Dr. Bruce Banner turning into The Hulk, and send the “expert” a nasty gram. The problem with Tyrone these days is he no longer only comes out when I’m buzzed. The stress of running a startup and raising twins the last two years has him out pretty much all the time.
Even though I didn’t get on this TV segment, I had another one coming up the following week on a
Phoenix TV show for Father’s Day gift ideas. So it was all good.
Three Tips to Get Things Done as a Work-At-Home Parentpreneur
If you’re a work-at-home Parentpreneur like I was, you know how hard it is to get your hustle on and take care of the kiddos at the same time. It’s kinda like being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. And it never fails: I would get a customer instant message or phone call, and at least one of my twins would start “wilding out,” screaming about a toy not working or fighting over whatever.
I asked Melinda Chen, founder of the Agile Parent Entrepreneur, to share her top three tips for work-at-home Parentpreneurs to get stuff done. Here’s what she said:
1. Set up incremental tasks.
Work-at-home Parentpreneurs often do not have the luxury of working seven to eight hours straight. Pick one day of the week, preferably at the beginning or the end of the week, and create your task list based on your business goals. Create tasks that can be completed within one to two hours; this way, you can focus on getting stuff done instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. You can use a regular to-do list or apps to create the tasks. Try to separate family and business tasks to avoid distractions.
For your business to-do list, try the popular team management app Asana to assign tasks to your team. It’s easy to use and great for both solopreneurs and entrepreneurs with a small team.
2. Create more time by systematizing your life and business.
We only have 24 hours in a day, and with taking care of kids and working, it seems impossible to get it all done. To create more time, systematize your life and your business. How do you systematize your life? It means taking a look at every aspect of your life and finding a way to streamline all the tasks to save more time.
Here are some examples:
a. Instead of figuring out on Sunday night what everyone is going to wear in the morning, lay out the next week’s outfits, so everyone knows what to wear in the morning.b. Instead of trying to figure out what to cook for dinner every day, always cook double the recipe so you can freeze the other half for another day.c. Try to list all your daily tasks on an Excel sheet and find creative ways to combine them.d. Is it possible to shop for your groceries online?e. Instead of picking up the kids from school every day, can you speak with your neighbors and find ways to split the task of picking up the kids?
This approach works for your business, too. I only focus on my social media efforts once a week, and during those two hours, using Pocket and Hootsuite, I will have planned my entire week of social media posts.
3. Focus, focus, focus.
Even though you work from home and are taking care of your kids, it doesn’t mean you should multitask. When my first child was born, I tried to multitask, and even breastfed my son while speaking with clients on the phone. But I learned that multitasking is a waste of time and energy because I wasn’t doing a good job being a parent or an entrepreneur. I was not efficient and was making unnecessary mistakes.
Now when I am with my children, I try not to use my phone at all and do not check my e-mail. For work, I find myself most effective in the morning. So I wake up at 5 a.m. and work while everyone is
It doesn’t matter what your work schedule is; the most important thing is to be 100 percent focused when you are working. Be creative. Be patient. And be focused.
James and his family recently relocated to Atlanta. He is dad to twins, the founder of the tech startup WeMontage, and an author.