This is probably the number one hurdle with becoming a doula or birth photographer and sustaining a steady flow of work. Having a young family can really take a toll on birth workers, even with one client a month. We are a family of 5, kids ages 2, 5 (just had a birthday), and 6. My two older kiddos are in school full days AND I just signed them up for Cub Scouts and Soccer. What?! So, how do I stay involved with my family and be there for my clients? I have to stay organized!
Top row: Important papers, forms that need to be filled out. Whomever is home is responsible for looking in their backpacks immediately and placing papers from their daily school folder into the appropriate places. When I get home, I quickly glance at them to see if anything needs replying to immediately. The clips are cheap chip bag clips with a thumbtack.
Middle Row: I found this organizational storage thingy (lol) at my wonderful local Target. I used spray chalk paint to make a section to write their names. We place any homework for the day or week into this section.
Bottom Row: Here they place their backpacks and school sweaters. It’s still warm, very warm, but sometimes their rooms can get a bit chilly.
Calendar of Events
I have way too many calendars going on, but one specifically hung that I print from my iCalendar for kid related events; it helps the husband and sitters keep track better and is there for me to glance at on my way out of the door. If I have to leave in the middle of the night and one of my kids has a doctor or dentist appt the next day, I’m able to call the office and leave a voicemail notifying them I will not be able to make it. All my childrens physicians have a note included in their charts that I am a doula/birth photographer and they have waived any cancellation fees (score!). Other things I include on their calendar are: sporting practices/games, cub scout meetings/events, school and events.
Pre Packed Lunch
One word, Yumbox. I love, love, love these containers! I am able to pack them the night before or even in the middle of the night. The seal is so good that sandwiches stay soggy free and apples don’t change color. Follow their Instagram, @yumboxlunch, they have tons of food ideas each day. I also use one of our extra ones to pack food into to take to births. If all fails, I keep money on their accounts at school for school lunches. While my 2yo stays home with me, I still make her a packed lunch in the event I need to head out to a birth. It’s also great to have when running errands or needing to get work done during the day. *I always ask if there are any students with a peanut allergy, but still use almond butter in school lunches. There is still a possibility of an allergy, but less likely with almonds.
When I first created this I thought my sitters would think I was some crazy overbearing parent, but they love it! It’s more of a guide, than anything else.. I have many sections in my binder including meds, food preference, school information, emergency contacts, local hospitals, pet information (because we have a whole slew of those too), and much more. There is also a section for timesheets. Weird? Maybe, but I come home like a zombie from births. This way I can see who babysat, how long they were here, and who may have replaced them while I was gone (I have several sitters I can rotate and rely on if one can’t be here the whole time). They get the option of cash in a few days after I return home or immediate payment using Cash.me from the creators of SquareUp.com.
To purchase a PDF Babysitter Binder template:
Fill in yourself – $15
Completely custom binder, you provide me with the info -$35
Payments can be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Teachers
At the beginning of every school year (or move), I make my kids teachers aware that I am a doula and birth photographer. I am the first person of contact on their school emergency cards, but when I am at a birth I will not be able to answer my phone. I have a laminated card I place into their daily folders that states I am at a birth. Each card contains who to contact first in the order they are listed in the event of an emergency or if a child needs to be picked up due to illness. I will usually leave the notes in their folder an extra day so I can really get caught up on sleep.
Talk to any birth worker that has been doing this work steadily for a minimum of 2 years and they will tell you their home is usually the last thing taken care of next to their own self care. LADIES! We HAVE to take care of our homes and selves. I speak for myself when I say that when my home is clean, I am a happy being. I used to say, “as long as everyone is alive when I get home, that’s all that matters.” This did not work and I ended up having more work for myself. I adapted and love all things FlyLady. She has all the tools available, but breaks it up into baby steps so you don’t become overwhelmed (which I never do, I jump in head first). I have certain days that I do certain chores: laundry Sundays and Wednesdays; floors Sat/Sun, Tuesday, Thursday; tidy the bathroom anytime I go in there — a quick wipe down, straighten the towels, take out a trashcan.
I love fresh food, but it can be difficult to keep fresh veggies on hand, and lets face it, not everyone loves to cook like I do.Once a week, I go to the grocery store to shop with meals in mind.. When I cook dinner throughout the week, I cook double batches for meals we really love and freeze. I place complete meals into ziplock bags, placing individual ingredients into individual bags, and then into disposable tin catering pans with instructions. Trader Joe’s and Costco have some decent frozen meals, and I’m finding myself stocking up on a lot of frozen veggies. If you decide to freeze your own veggies, remember to blanch them prior to freezing. Check out Trader Joe’s Recipe section for awesome ideas!
Last, but not least, do not forget to have FUN with your family and make memories! Set work hours for yourself, there is no right or wrong schedule for you as long as you are not burning yourself out and getting good quality time with the ones you love. We have zoo passes, go to the local splash pads, parks, cook together, even the carwash is fun entertainment for my kiddos (and I get a clean car 😉 ) They are really getting into board games and I just made a maze for them in the backyard. It’s nothing grand, but they love running it for hours.