How I’m writing my ebook

Yes, one of my goals for this year is writing my ebook! I plan to finish the first draft this month. See the end of the post for more on this.

But for now, here’s what’s working for me.

I started off really overwhelmed with how exactly to start writing my ebook! I mean, I used to write research papers in school, and creative writing assignments, and there was a process the teacher had us follow. But I didn’t have a process for writing an ebook.

And I’m an ISTJ, so I need to follow a process, a recipe, or some kind of instructions.

I came across Mandi Ehman’s course From Idea to Ebook which I think was exactly what I needed! It’s only $37 USD so if you’re similarly confused and overwhelmed, I highly recommend it. After going through the modules, writing my ebook seemed a lot more achievable.

Writing my ebook

The first thing I did was write out a list in a Word document of all the topics I want to cover in the book. I wanted to end up with a certain number, so I wrote plenty more than that number on my list. Some topics will get merged, and some I’ll ditch altogether, before the final draft is ready.

I created a list on my ebook board of all my topics. Then I decided to split up all the different topics into groups with their own lists:

writing my ebook chapters

These lists will be the main information chapters of the book.

writing my ebook chapter

Then I started writing.

After I finished some of the subtopics, I decided I’d like a way to keep track of which ones I’ve finished and which ones I haven’t. So I gave each finished topic a red label. I’ve done the same thing with the list of chapters as well, so I know how far through I am.

writing my ebook finished chapters

As I get further through the book, all those red labels keep me going. As an ISTJ, I’m very keen to finish things that I start, so being able to easily see how much is left is a huge motivator.

Now, I’m not done writing my ebook yet, so I’m sure I’ll learn more along the way. One day I’ll write another blog post about the rest of the process. 🙂

Homeschooling and Home Business 101

I’m a part of several Facebook groups for small biz owners. I’m noticing more and more are homeschooling! This is great, because I’m homeschooling my kids too. It’s good to be in contact with others who are doing homeschooling and home business.

It’s a lot to have on your plate, for sure – homeschooling and home business. So some planning and forethought is definitely required!

If you’re on the fence about whether to send your kids to school or homeschool them, here are three words to bear in mind.

Simplicity. My husband and I have decided that for the most part, we’ll focus on the three R’s, and let everyday life and the kids’ interests take care of the rest. Because when a child can read, they can learn about whatever they want through reading about it. If they can read and do basic arithmetic, they can get by quite well in society.

The workbooks we’ve decided on for our boys are things that they can do on their own. Sometimes they’ll ask for help, and that’s okay! We don’t expect them to know everything, because they’re learning. But when you have multiple children, a home business to run, and the regular home upkeep, it’s good that they can work on their own for the most part.

Flexibility. This is important, because no two days are the same. Some days you’ll have a sick kid, or an excursion (field trip). Sometimes you’ll decide to go on holiday (vacation) during the normal school term – because you can! And those days when you have meet-ups with other homeschooling families, and take care of that thing that non-homeschoolers always worry about – socialisation!

And then some days, you just need a mental health day, and tell the kids to watch TV.

Rhythm. Sort of like a schedule, but not as strict! Our rhythm most days means schoolwork & chores in the morning, then lunch, then kids on their computers while I work in my office. My husband’s work start times are different each day, so sometimes we’ll have lunch at 12, and other days not till 1:30 or 2. But regardless of the actual time that everything happens, it happens in a certain order most days. This way, we all know what to expect, and everything gets done.

Often, I’ll do some work in my office after the kids are in bed. Or if I’m still getting the baby to sleep, I’m on the couch watching Buffy. 😉

And we try to keep to this rhythm during the school holidays, too – although without so much book work!

So this is how we do homeschooling and home business.

Are you homeschooling? How do you do it?

Surviving the newborn period as a homeschooling WAHM

So I had a baby a month ago. Almost exactly, in fact – Micah will be one month old tomorrow. We are well and truly in the middle of the newborn period.

I have two older boys as well, age 5 and 9 1/2. We homeschool. And I run my own business from home.

That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It certainly feels like it some days! And I knew it was going to be a huge adjustment having another baby, so I made some plans ahead of time for how to get through the newborn period without completely losing my mind.

How I’m surviving the newborn period as a homeschooling WAHM

  • Babywearing. When the baby only wants Mum, but Mum needs to do something other than just hold the baby before she tears her hair out, babywearing is awesome. While babywearing my three boys, I’ve been able to play computer games, work on my website, wash dishes, put on a load of laundry (and hang it after), walk around the shops with a shopping trolley, use my sewing machine, cook dinner – and that’s just the beginning. I’ve heard that some anthropologists believe the baby sling was the first human invention, and it’s easy to see why. It’s useful not only during the newborn period, but for the months to come – as long as your back is strong enough to carry your child!
  • My kids are, by and large, on school holidays. I told Caleb, my 9 year old, that when the baby came he’d get a break from his schoolwork. The newborn period is a time when pretty much everything else falls by the wayside, so I expected that we wouldn’t be up for checking his work and reminding him to do it every day. Instead, I’ve told Caleb that he can do his workbooks one day a week, and he can choose which day that is.

    Chuckie, our five-year-old, is learning how to read and doing his first mathematics workbook. He’s still excited about these things, so he grabs his maths book whenever he feels like doing some work (about 2-3 times a week). A friend of mine, who has homeschooled her eight children, said that right from the start, she chose workbooks that her kids could do mostly on their own. This has proved to be a useful strategy for me too, even though I don’t have as many kids as she does!

  • I let my clients know that I was going on maternity leave, and to expect I’d be out of action for at least a few weeks. I’m also not taking on any new clients at the moment, because it’s too much at this time. Right now, I need to focus on getting to know my baby and recovering from the pregnancy & birth. Everything else can wait.
  • Online grocery shopping. Actually, I’ve been using this one since I was about 35 weeks pregnant. It’s so much easier to have a Coles delivery driver carry your heavy groceries into the house than having to do it yourself. Sure, it costs a bit more, but the extra I pay for the delivery is less money that I’m paying for chiropractic adjustments from overdoing it.
  • Accept help from whoever offers it. I know – a lot of us have trouble accepting help, myself included. I hate being dependent on anyone. But you simply can’t do it all on your own, so whoever offers to babysit your older kids, bring you meals so you don’t have to cook, clean your house – let them.
  • Disposable everything. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this one, but as I’m writing this, we’re using disposable nappies and disposable plates in our house. It’s just easier at the moment. When things settle down a bit more, Micah will be back in the cloth nappies (love my Seedling, Baby Beehinds, and Cushie Tushies nappies!), and we’ll use our standard dishes again.
  • Packaged food and take-away. Yeah, this one too. Today we had chicken nuggets for lunch. About half our meals at the moment are frozen packaged things that are easy to prepare – because inevitably, the baby is always hungry when Mum is ready to cook.
  • Giving the older kids more responsibility. The 9 year old is getting really good at doing laundry, preparing food, and washing dishes. The 5 year old checks the letterbox every day, puts dishes away, and helps Dad empty the bins every week. Older kids can do a lot more around the house than most people give them credit for.
  • Whenever I feel up to cooking, I make a double batch and freeze half. This gives us an extra meal we can warm up quickly if we’re having a crap day. Or, depending on the meal, it gives us leftovers that the big kids can grab for their own meals over the next few days.
  • I only do one big thing a day. If I go out shopping, I ONLY go out shopping. If I do housework, I ONLY do housework. I don’t try to go to several different shopping centres on the same day and then do three loads of washing and wash dishes when I get home – that would result in certain disaster.
  • Whenever I’m able to put the baby down, I have a list of priorities. The first thing on this list is go to the toilet. After this is eating, drinking, showering – and further down the list is any kind of housework. This ensures that I look after myself before I do anything else. Putting on my own oxygen mask first, so to speak.
  • Well. That was a bit longer list than I was anticipating writing, but I think you get the idea!

    What other things would you add to this list, or do differently in the newborn period?

How to get started on your to-do list

The best way to get started on your to-do list is just to start.

It sounds so simple, but it’s true!

But you’re still asking ‘HOW? Because my to-do list is a mile long and I have no idea where to start!’

Okay. I hear you. I’ve been there, and I’ve got some tips for you.

Step one – write down everything.

Yes – everything. Everything you need to do – biz related, housework related, everything you can think of that you need or want to do, write it down in a list. You can use pen and paper, whiteboard, an online tool – whatever works for you.

This is always my first step when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I write down absolutely everything I can think of that needs to get done.

Why do I start by writing everything down, when I could just start one of the things on the list already? Because usually, I have a million things running around in my head bumping into each other and causing me stress. Once I’ve written them all down, my mind is a lot clearer, and I can look at things objectively to come up with a game plan.

Try it. Even if you’re not usually a List Person like I am, give it a go and see how it feels.

Once you’ve written out your to-do list, then you can decide how to approach it. Do you want to tackle the quick, easy tasks first, so you feel like you’re achieving a lot? Can you delegate some of these tasks to other members of your family or your team?

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE crossing things off my to-do list. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, even if I’m only crossing off a couple of easy things! Then I have momentum to get the rest of it done.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed after you have a written to-do list, I’d love for you to download my free e-book, Overcoming Overwhelm. You can sign up for it right at the bottom of this post, and I guarantee the five steps I talk about will bring clarity and peace.

Kids and home biz: Bringing them together

Did you start your home biz so you could be home with your kids? I’m betting you did. It’s a common reason for starting a home biz.

But do you feel sometimes like you’re spending more time in your office, sewing room, or workshop than you spend with your kids? And you’re not sure how to get that balance back?

 

Most blog posts about this topic say things like you need to set boundaries, or your work will overtake the rest of your life. And delegate tasks to a virtual assistant, so you spend the most time on what earns you money, and less on things that don’t. Both of which are true! But what about a solution a little outside the box?

What about involving your kids in your biz?

 

Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Every morning (or afternoon, or evening – whatever time you work at home) your mum or dad goes off into this room of the house that you’re not allowed into. They shut the door, and for a couple hours, you don’t see them.

They could be doing anything in there! What if it’s fun, and they’re not letting you in on it? What do they do in there by themselves?

Kids are curious. Just think of all those awkward questions they’ve asked you in public. They love to learn new things, and to show how competent they are.

What if, instead of locking yourself away every day, you brought them in to help you once in a while? This way, they get to see what you’re doing, and spend time with you while you do it.

How your kids can get involved in your biz

  • Modeling children’s clothing
  • Product testing (toys, books, other children’s items)
  • Packing orders & going to the post office (I know mine love putting things in the postbox!)
  • Stuffing envelopes
  • Unpack & help put away new stock
  • Stocktake – ask them to count how many of a certain item

Older kids, of course, can help in more advanced ways. They often want payment for their services, however. 😉 Younger kids are usually happy enough to just help Mum or Dad with whatever they’re doing.

Do your kids help out with your biz? In what ways?

Home biz + homeschooling: A typical day

Most of you, I assume, take your kids to school in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon, and the hours in between are your working hours.

My family is a little different. We’re homeschooling. Now, the reasons for that are many and varied, but the main thing you’re probably thinking right now is “How the heck do you manage to work at home when your kids are ALWAYS there?!”

Or, maybe you’re considering homeschooling, and wondering how the two can fit together.

So I’d like to share a typical weekday in the Smith house.

A day in the life of a homeschooling family

8 am: My alarm goes off. I get up, check social media, emails, and play games on my tablet for a few minutes to get adjusted to the day. I know a lot of people recommend against this, but it works for me. Also, I usually make myself a cup of tea, and try to remember to drink it before it goes cold!

Anywhere from 7-9 am: My kids wake up. If I’m lucky, they wake up AFTER I do, and I get a bit of peace & quiet to start the day off, which REALLY helps. If I’m not, they wake me up with their fighting at 7:30, and I know a miserable day is ahead.

9 am: My 8 year old starts his lessons in my office/sewing room. We use workbooks for most of his learning. Until this week, he was working on them in the lounge, whilst his younger brother was playing nearby. This week, we began letting him use my office, and things go much smoother. He doesn’t complain as much, and it takes him half as long!

10 am: My husband gets up. He’s a bus driver and works the night shift, so he HAS to sleep late. This is the point where I can go off to the shops if I need something, even if it’s just a half hour break from kids fighting! (Yes, even homeschooled kids fight. Can’t get away from that one, I’m afraid.)

11 am: My husband spends about an hour with the kids, teaching maths, science, or geography. While they’re doing this, I usually tackle the dishes and cook lunch.

12 or 12:30: we all eat lunch together and watch something on TV. The 8 year old likes Megastructures at the moment, but if Dad has his way, it’s Top Gear. Actually, any engineering show goes over well with most of us. What can I say? We’re geeks. 😉

1 pm or so: I go into my office and work until my husband needs to go to work. This doesn’t happen every day. My husband’s schedule varies, and he starts work anywhere from 2 pm to nearly 5 pm. On the late start days, I get a lot of work done in the afternoon.

After Dad goes to work: mostly we all just potter around, play on computers/tablets, watch a bit of TV, play. Sometimes, if the kids are quiet enough (but not TOO quiet!) I can get some work done while they play. On Friday afternoons, we usually meet up with our homeschooling group at a local park.

6-7 pm: dinner time. The kids & I are pretty laid back about dinner. Sometimes I just tell them to grab their own (if there’s enough grab-able food in the fridge), and other nights I cook something for all of us.

8 pm: Start bedtime routine. (I’ve never understood why people think kids should go to bed at 7. That just means they get up earlier!)

9 pm: In bed listening to music with the kids. Once the 3 year old falls asleep, I’m free to do whatever I want.

Sometimes I work after the kids are in bed. Sometimes I’m so knackered from getting them to bed that all I want to do is curl up on the couch with whatever TV show I’m currently watching.

Then, anywhere between 10:30 and 1 am, my husband gets home from work. I’m in bed at 12, but rarely asleep when he gets home. So we chat a bit about how our nights have been, then he usually watches something on TV and comes to bed later.

For the moment, this works for my family. I know that things will change as life goes on, and we’ll adjust. I’ll still make time to get my work done.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to mean the end of your biz. It can actually be an educational tool too!