My husband and I feel lucky to be entrepreneurs who work from home. We’ve designed our lives so that there’s always time for a surf (him) or a trail run (me). I’m an author/jungle lodge owner. My husband is a sustainability guru. Working hours? No such thing—our mantra has been to get work done between adventures—no real difference between weekends and weekdays.

Then we got pregnant (yay!). Our flexible lifest‌yle would be perfect for a newborn…right?

The reality was a bit of a shock. I was suddenly juggling two babies—a newborn and a book launch. Maternity leave? Yeah, right. I soon found myself breastfeeding with a computer on my lap and cell phone in hand (yes, it can be done, but this isn’t exactly ideal!!). I barely had time to brush my teeth and make a meal, let alone keep up with work e-mails and publisher deadlines.

The 4th trimester pushed me way out of my comfort zone—personally and professionally. We argued plenty, realized that was useless (and exhausting), then embraced the challenge and decided to become masters of artful mistake making.

Our little one (son, Zephyr) is now nearly 6 months old. As I reflect on the journey of being a mama entrepreneur, I hope these 5 tips might help new self-employed or work at home parents.

1. Find a carrier you love. Our baby naps a lot longer in the carrier and we get free hands for computer tasks (win-win!!). We decided as parents to minimize screen time for baby. Easier said than done…baby carrier to the rescue!!! Our baby loved to be held (all the time) and with the carrier, he’d be facing away from the screen. Note that there are a ton of different st‌yles of carrier out there. Try a bunch of models and see what works best for you (my husband and I each have our own favorite carrier).

2. Prioritize and become efficiency masters. Work time becomes scarce, use it wisely. Think of this as an opportunity to let go of the non-essentials. Prioritize your to-do list. Give yourself twice as long (at least) to accomplish tasks and meet deadlines. You may have to let somethings go for a bit. I made no social commitments for several weeks (your friends will understand!).
3. Ask for 2 hours. We whined about not getting our work done, then realized the real problem was that we just weren’t communicating well. We learned that the simple request: “I need 2 hours of uninterrupted time to get (fill in the blank) done,” can really help. Time is a different creature with a baby. Schedule and communicate with your partner about your work projects, deadlines, etc. We’ve found that giving each other 2-hour windows of uninterrupted time is like gold. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with undistracted bursts of work time.
4. Power siesta. Mama brain is very real!! My brain felt like a fried egg (our little guy is not a sleeper). 10-minute siestas throughout the day made a huge difference to my focus and thinking power. Before you get to work, consider that a quick nap may make you more productive.
5. Hire helpers and use grandma. As an entrepreneur, I’m used to being independent and wearing many hats. With a newborn, I quickly learned to ask for help in a variety of different forms. Professionally I hired little helpers—a social media expert, publicist, graphic designer and coaches. They helped my postpartum brain stay focused and on track (life coach, business coach, nutrition coach, etc.). I had a small budget for these helpers and when funds ran low I asked about work-trade options (and got many yeses!). Personally, I looked to my mom for help as well (I’m lucky to have her nearby and she was happy to go to the bank, pick up groceries, play with baby etc.). Plus, I think she’s really enjoyed being a helper.

These tips may seem simple or obvious but they’ve made a huge difference for us so far. We’ll see what work/life/baby adventures come next…

Bonus: I’ve actually discovered that life with a baby has made me a more mindful and balanced entrepreneur. Juggling a baby and book launch have brought some surprisingly beautiful synchronicities and benefits (breastfeeding + oxytocin = I’ve overcome my fear of public speaking…very helpful for book tour!). As I slow down daily to play with Zephyr, new inspiration is catching up with me. Thus, I’m writing this article for you! I haven’t written since I finished the manuscript for my book (before I got pregnant). I hope to have more mama entrepreneur inspiration for the Red Tricycle community soon.