JUGGLING WORK & FAMILY ISN'T EASY—ESPECIALLY NOT UNDER ONE ROOF. HERE'S SIX TIPS TO BALANCING BOTH FOR THE MOMS WHO WORK FROM HOME.
Being a work-from-home mom is different for everyone. Some women have full-time jobs that enable them to work from the comfort of their home office, but still keep fairly traditional hours and the flexibility to pop out and play with their kids at lunchtime.
If you’re like me, though, it’s more of a juggling act. I don’t have regular childcare, so I take advantage of small snippets of time where I can. I’ll squeeze in writing a blog post or brainstorming an article pitch while my son is napping. I take advantage of evenings after he goes to sleep and Saturday mornings when my husband takes him running—and I can be found in our local coffee shop.
I have been doing this for about five months now, and have pieced together some advice to help you keep your sanity while maximizing your productivity (and fit in a little relaxation time, too!).
1. Be as organized as you possibly can.
This comes more naturally for some people than for others, but figuring out a system and maintaining it is key. My son is an irregular napper so when he falls asleep, it’s usually a surprise. Initially, I wasn’t prepared for the quiet time and typically ended up flipping through a magazine instead of working on a project.
Before I left my previous job, I maintained an up-to-the-minute to-do list that I would review and update every evening for the following day. I’ve recently started doing that again so I can always quickly figure out what I need to work on if I have a window of time.
2. Take advantage of naptime, school, and play dates where you don’t have to be present.
I already take advantage of naptime, but am looking forward to enrolling my son in a preschool program when he gets a little older. A few hours a week at school means more time to work for me, and the ability to focus more on him when he is at home.
If your kids have friends who also have a mom at home, try and do a time swap. Even if the other mom isn’t working, she would probably love some time to herself. See if you can send your kids over to her house for a few hours a week, and then take hers for the same amount of time.
If your kids have friends who also have a mom at home, try and do a time swap.
3. Have a trusted babysitter or mother’s helper.
Even if you don’t use regular childcare, ask for recommendations from friends and know who you can call if a particularly strenuous deadline comes up. If you can afford it, hiring someone to come in for a few hours a week to play with the baby can be a lifesaver. It’s truly amazing what you can get done in three hours if that’s all the time you have.
4. Have a workspace where you can close the door.
We’re lucky enough to have an office space off of our living room, but it’s completely open with no doors which means that if everyone else is home while I’m trying to work, there’s a constant stream of disruptions.
After a few unsuccessful work sessions, that room has since been repurposed into a playspace for our son and I typically leave the house to work or hide out in our bedroom. It’s not my ideal situation, but I discovered it was necessary after I had a babysitter who would sit with the baby five feet from where I was trying to work and interrupt constantly, which brings me to…
5. If you have a caregiver, make sure to set boundaries.
As I mentioned before, we had a babysitter who didn’t understand that I was trying to work and I hadn’t hired her so we could all hang out together. She would frequently initiate conversations and bring the baby over to interact with me.
When the problem first cropped up, I started heading to my local coffee shop to work only to find her taking the baby out for walks and stopping by so he could say hello. I realized it was my fault. I wasn’t clear on how I was spending my time and how important it was for me to be uninterrupted for the time she was there.
6. Don’t spend every available minute working.
Because I don’t have set hours or a regular paycheck, it’s very tempting to feel like I should grab a project every time the baby is asleep or I have a few free minutes. This can result in a constant rotation of work, babycare, house cleaning, laundry, errands, etc. Everyone needs a break and I like to think my husband would occasionally like to see me.
While I take advantage of Saturday and Sunday mornings to work for a few hours, I try to keep the rest of the day available for family time. I throw loads of laundry in during the week as it’s something easy I can do while I’m hanging out with my little guy, and it means that I’m not closeted doing chores while my husband and son head to the park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Splurge on a babysitter for date night so you and your spouse can spend some time without your children and make sure to pencil in your friends. While you probably see them a lot less than you did before you had kids, it’s important to make sure you’re focusing on all aspects of your life.
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Finding the perfect balance is different for everyone. For some, it might be ensuring that they can get a weekly pedicure while others may want to try and grab drinks with friends in addition to family and work responsibilities. Whatever is most important to you, a little planning ensures that you can have fun in your life even if you’re a work-at-home mom who feels as if she has no free time. Ensure that your working hours are as productive as they can possibly be so you have time to devote to your family, to your friends, and most importantly, to yourself.