When you work from home, the distractions are many. Between the emails, the phone calls and the social media marketing, there is also never-ending piles of dirty laundry, nap times to manage, diapers to change, meals to cook, and a whole house to keep up. Not to mention things like finding time to work out and take a shower!
Between managing my blog, my Graphic Design company, Creative Type Designs, and my household of 7 (which includes my husband, three children ages 5, 3 1/2 and 18 months and two crazy dogs), I suppose it’s normal that from time-to-time I find myself the kind of completely overwhelmed and burnt out that even a glass of my favorite wine just can’t fix. I sat down not too long ago and started making a list of what helps me get through the “down times” to share with other work-at-home moms.
1) Set up an office or space devoted to work time. You don’t have to devote an entire room of your house to it, but a desk in a corner somewhere with all your work items will help you stay focused and organized.
2) Get Dressed. It’s really tempting to stay in your PJs or yoga pants all day when you work from home, but getting dressed and putting on makeup can help you feel more ready to work and you’re a lot more productive when you’re in the right mindset.
3) Find a schedule that works for you. Be straightforward about the fact that you work from home. It’s ok to tell clients that your hours are non-traditional. You’ll be less stressed about it, knowing that clients know upfront how and when they can best reach you. While I do provide clients my phone number, I also tell them I strongly prefer to work via email for two reasons: (1) Talking on the phone with little ones at home is darn near impossible and screaming kids in the background certainly isn’t professional sounding, and (2) I like to have written record of things we’ve discussed.
4) Get a little help with the kids. If you don’t live near family that can help out, consider a Mother’s Day Out program for your child(ren). Even if you only do it once or twice a week, it gives you set free hours in which you can take phone calls or work un-interrupted. Some in our area are as inexpensive as $4 per hour (whereas babysitting runs $10 per hour!).
5) Use the kids’ nap/rest time wisely. What kinds of things can you only do while the kids aren’t around? This is the time to focus on those things.
6) Create a weekly meal plan. This helps me cut out all those extra trips to the store for little things and eliminates me staring into the fridge at 4pm wondering what I can whip up with what I have (or ordering something unhealthy out of desperation). Plan your meals around your schedule. On busy days, I plan a slow cooker meal or other easy, healthy dinner. I actually post a weekly meal plan on my blog if you don’t feel like you have time to make your own or just need some new, healthy meal ideas.
7) Take a break. It’s extra easy to get burnt out when you work from home with little ones because you’re multi-tasking to the max. Every now and then, take a day (or even a week) off, and spend the time you’d normally spend working doing something you enjoy but rarely get to do. Read a book, meet a friend for coffee, or try one of the million DIY projects on your Pinterest-inspired to-do list.
8) Have technology free time. As a general rule, I try to stay off my laptop/phone after the kids go to bed so I can spend quality time with my husband. Even if that just means sharing some popcorn, wine, and watching a TV show we enjoy together. I also try to work hard during the week so the weekends can be focused on spending time as a family.
9) Work it Out. In the gym, that is. Working from home creates extra stress since you’re always multi-tasking (especially if you have little ones at home). Often, it also means spending a lot of time in front of a computer. Working out is a great stress-buster, re-energizer and good way to get your mind off work. With three little ones, it’s hard to just pop out for a run so we opted to join the YMCA. I get an hour to workout alone and the kids love getting out of the house to play with other kids in the playroom.
10) Embrace the fact that you can’t do it all. I love this article I read recently on this very topic. “Only Wonder Woman can do it all, and all at once. And she isn’t real”. My goal for the year has been to find balance. It sounds so simple but it’s a challenging, ongoing process to find a good balance and there isn’t a hard and fast rule for finding it. What creates balance for my family, may not work for yours.
We’re all just doing the best we can and I think simply knowing you’re not the only one who struggles to “do it all” is a huge source of relief.
“A wise woman recognizes when her life is out of balance and summons the courage to act to correct it, she knows the meaning of true generosity, happiness is the reward for a life lived in harmony, with a courage and grace.” -Suze Orman-
I originally shared this post last month over on the Military Spouse Business Association Blog.
Do you have any tips to add?