Before my 6-month-old became my number one client, I spent a lot less time at home.
As a keynote speaker and consultant, I would spend 125 nights (or more) on the road every year, delivering speeches at conferences and corporate workshops on brand storytelling and content idea generation. I’d travel from state to state, or country to country, working from whatever hotel or airport I happened to be passing through.
And even when I was home, I wasn’t. Since I get out of my company what I put into it, I’d spend my days bouncing around New York City, having meetings with current and prospective consulting clients or working until closing time at a local coworking space or café. My husband, Yasin, is an entrepreneur too; not only did he understand, but he’d often be right there with me, working on his business (he’s the CEO of the Fantasy Life app).
Now that we’ve got a daughter at home, heading out on the road is a lot more complicated and a lot less enticing. So while I’m adjusting to life as a mom and launching my first book, I’m also working on adapting my business to require less time away from home.
Every day is a little bit different—my schedule varies based on my consulting clients, my travel schedule and what needs to be done to promote my book—but having a baby has still given my “home” days a lot more structure. Here’s how I get it all done.
Good Morning, Dad. Our daughter is a great sleeper and wakes up for the day pretty consistently around 6 a.m. My husband is a heavy sleeper but an early riser, so I take care of the baby’s nighttime wake-ups and he handles her morning routine while I try to snag a little extra sleep.
Good Morning, Mama. I’m up by 7, by which point Yasin has gotten our daughter changed and bathed, and fed her the first bottle of the day. (I know most babies have a bath as part of a bedtime routine, but this kid gets way too excited for baths for them to be a “wind down” activity, so we mostly do morning baths.)
We trade off holding, dressing and otherwise prepping our daughter for the day while we get ourselves ready, in turns. This includes blow-drying her hair. (Yes, seriously. She’s got an impressive head of hair, and we won’t go out while it’s still wet.)
Off to Day Care. Since I went back to work in mid-January, our daughter goes to day care four days a week. On those days, Yasin and I pack her up in the stroller and walk her to school together.
Yasin and I try to have breakfast together every day. Sometimes that means a quick bowl of cereal before we leave home, but assuming neither of us has an early call or meeting to race off to, we sit down for egg scrambles at a place that’s on our way. If nothing else, we often stop for coffee on the walk back home. My husband works from home most days, so he can be available for day care pickup in the afternoon. I hop on a bus to my coworking space, and I pick up another coffee (decaf caramel with a bit of milk) on the way.
Speaker Business Development Calls. I’m set up at my coworking space, ready to start the day. My first order of business is always an inbox clearout and updating my to-do list to set priorities for the day. Because of the time difference, my morning calls are often with overseas events and organizations considering hiring me for a keynote or workshop. We discuss their audience and their goals for the event, and I share which of my programs would be a fit. Hopefully, we end the calls with the next step to sign a speaking agreement.
Social and Web Check-In. I manage my own digital presence—for myself and for my company, StoryFuel—so I take 30 minutes or so in the mornings to make updates to the website, edit photos and graphics for social media, reply to social comments, schedule posts, work on blogs and other digital content tasks.
Virtual Assistant Meeting. I check in with my virtual assistant regularly via video call. We review some recent and upcoming calls and meetings on the calendar, confirm travel logistics details for my next trip, coordinate travel details for upcoming trips and make a list of potential podcast appearances and client calls to be scheduled.
Lunch. At noon, my phone reminds me to eat lunch. I know this is a little sad, but I find that since I’m more focused than ever on making the most of my workdays, I otherwise get so caught up in work that I forget to eat. It’s almost always a working lunch.
Podcast Interview. I throw my headset on, pop into a conference room or phone booth at the coworking space and do a podcast interview to promote my new book, The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas.
In the month leading up to the book launch, I’ve recorded 20-plus podcast interviews. I’m approaching it like a “virtual book tour” that helps me reach new audiences for the book without having to get on a plane and leave my family behind. If the interview ends earlier than the hour I blocked off, I use the time to reach out to hosts of other shows.
Presentation Prep. I have two keynote speeches that I give frequently, and they’re well polished, but I’m developing a new one in coordination with the launch of my new book, so I’m always trying to fit in review and rehearsal of the new content.
Depending on the day and what part of the talk I’m working on, this might mean refining the speaking script, tweaking the slides or doing a full-on standing rehearsal in a conference room. (Like an athlete, I record the rehearsals and watch the tape back to see what’s working, what’s not and what I should continue to work on.)
The Clock Is Ticking… Since I know my husband picks up our daughter from day care at 3, I start feeling snuggle FOMO soon after. It’s always a struggle to focus for the last part of the day, so I occupy myself with smaller tasks: replying to new emails, checking in on social media again and tying up other loose ends for the day.
Around 4:30, I close up shop. If I haven’t planned what to cook, I pick up or order dinner on the way home; lately we’ve been opting for healthy wraps or Thai if we’re ordering in. I always make sure to stop at the mailroom on the way in too. With the baby, the only way for us to keep up with our household inventory is a combination of Amazon subscriptions and online grocery orders. (We used to make several smaller grocery trips each week since we don’t have a car, but that’s just not doable anymore.)
Dinner and Decompress. Once I’m home, I’ll often toss a load of laundry in, and then it’s dinnertime for all three of us. If I’m cooking, it’s often pasta-, veggie- or chicken-based meals, or a Crock-Pot concoction that I would have tossed in that morning. This is also when our kiddo gets her one solid (well, pureed) meal each day, so there’s some cleanup involved after that. Yasin and I generally watch something on Netflix or Hulu while we feed the baby. (Most recently we binged the latest season of Better Call Saul.) This is usually the calmest part of the day, and I try to make a conscious effort to be present and not get lost in work or my phone.
Bedtime. Around 6:45 or 7—after I toss the laundry into the dryer—we take the little one into her room and start her bedtime routine: diaper change, pajamas, snuggles and a book in the rocking chair, the “falling rain” setting on her sound machine and one last bottle around 7:30.
Chore Catch-Up. Once the baby falls asleep, there’s a sprint to get a bunch of baby things done. We hand-wash bottles, retrieve frozen milk from the freezer for the next day and gather up the toys, binkies, burp cloths and bibs scattered around the apartment. This is also when I read through the day care report and pack her bag for the next day with anything she may have used up (diapers, wipes, bibs, formula, etc.).
It’s also time to catch up on general home things: start another load of laundry, open and sort the mail, load or empty the dishwasher, refill the humidifier, take out the trash and recycling, restock and refill various things around the house and generally neaten things up.
Pack or Work. If I’m headed out on the road the next day, it’s time to pack. Luckily, it’s a quick task: I’ve purchased second copies of all my essentials—toiletries, chargers, everything—and keep my go-to carry-on mostly packed. Once I add some fresh clothes, I’m good to go.
If the next day is a “home” day, both Yasin and I will probably log back on to do a bit more work before bed. (Lately, that’s also included signing books and addressing envelopes so I can send them out to reviewers and clients.)
Bedtime. We both get lost in our work until about 10:30, when one of us realizes what time it is and suggests we go to bed. My husband or I will check on the baby quickly, and then we fall asleep to the sound of the white noise machine playing through the baby monitor.
Melanie Deziel is a keynote speaker, author, award-winning branded content creator and storyteller on a mission to share the power of compelling and credible content with others. She is the author of The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas and the founder of StoryFuel, which teaches marketers, publishers, creators and companies of all sizes how to tell better brand stories. Prior to founding StoryFuel, Deziel was the first editor of branded content at The New York Times and a founding member of HuffPost’s brand storytelling team, and she served as director of creative strategy for Time Inc.