10 Simple Tips for the Work at Home Mom. The number one question I get: How do you do it all?! Here’s the secret: I don’t! Here are a few ways I manage to work from home with kids…without losing my mind (most of the time). 🙂
I love that I can work from home, but the truth is, the distractions are many. Between the emails, the phone calls, the creating, the blogging, the social media marketing, etc. there are also never-ending piles of dirty laundry, nap times to manage (or not manage since my youngest thinks naps are for nerds these days), diapers to change, potty-training to attempt, meals to cook, kids to shuttle to and from appointments and school, two dogs, errands to run, and a whole house to keep up. Not to mention things like finding time to work out and take a shower and spend time with my hubby!
Honestly, I thought “mommy-brain” would get better as my kids got older, but it’s only getting worse. If you ever email or text me, I respond fast. Why? Because if I don’t do it immediately, I forget. So I just do it on the spot whenever possible.
I don’t share many photos of my kids on the blog, but they really do exist! As of this month, they are 3, 5 and 6 1/2 years old.
Here are 10 Simple Ways I Manage Working From Home with Kids…
Note: I like to think I’m learning to juggle this whole WAHM thing pretty well but please don’t think this list means I have it all together and it’s all sunshine and rainbows over here. Case in point: Yesterday was one of “those” days. I washed my iPhone in the washing machine. On the heavy duty cycle with all our winter coats. Awesome. I don’t have phone insurance and we’re two months out from upgrade. It took me 3 hours write what should have been a 20 minute post to type up due to constant interruptions and by bedtime, I was certain that if one more kid said “Mommy!” my ears were going to start to bleed. Also, for the record, I think all Moms are work at home moms. 🙂
1. I make the most of Mondays.
As a general rule, I never plan anything on Mondays. No appointments, no play dates, no errands. This is my most productive day of the week since I don’t spend time on the go (and it also usually means we stay in our PJs all day. Yay!). As a result, I actually look forward to Mondays! After the weekend, I wake up ready to get back to the grind. I get so much more accomplished this day than any other day of the week when we have appointments and school and errands. Mondays may not work for you, but try to pick a day of the week that’s kept free to just work. You’ll be amazed how much you get done in one day!
2. Accept that your hours won’t be traditional.
Work when you’re most productive and/or as your family schedule allows. For me, that’s Mondays and mornings (the time when my two kids that aren’t in school full-time yet are content to play or watch a few cartoons). Two mornings a week now, though, my middle child has speech class. So, I opted to take the very first appointment of the morning. Yes, it’s early but it means we’re back home a few minutes after 9am, which still leaves work time in the morning.
I know a lot of bloggers work from when they’re kids go to bed until midnight or later. I’m just plain too tired by the time my kids go to bed so I rarely work late at night. Do what works for you.
3. Get organized for the morning the night before.
When I’m tired at night, this one is easier said than done, but it’s such a simple thing that makes the mornings go much smoother. I make the kids lunches, pack backpacks, and set their clothes out for the next day before I go to bed. And ideally, I make my to-do list for the next day too! Speaking of lists…
4. Lists are your friend.
I use a family calendar downstairs and an Erin Condren Life Planner for work/blogging. I make a lot of lists. This is the to-do list and week at a glance list I created to keep myself organized. You can download them here.
I prioritize my daily to do-list and attack it from the top. When I don’t get to it all, I just move the lowest priority stuff to the next day. Some things get moved to the next day repeatedly until I get to them.
5. Do one small load of laundry a day.
Sometimes, I skip a day, but this super simple change has been life changing. Really. No more “laundry days”. Yay!
I am not the type to ask for help. I usually just burn myself out trying to do it all. I finally realized that something had to give though so I did three things to alleviate some of the stress.
- We clean as a family on the weekend. Sure, we pick up during the week, but every Saturday morning, we clean the whole house as a family.
- Give the kids more responsibility. I made my kids this chore chart from an old crib rail (shown below) and it’s worked wonderfully. And it’s pretty low-maintenance which was key. I didn’t need one more thing to manage on my to-do list. It’s simple but effective.
- If your kid’s aren’t school-aged and you don’t live near family that can help out, consider a Mother’s Day Out program for your child(ren). Initially, it made me feel guilty to send my kids somewhere when I stay home all day, but I get SO much done while they’re there and they LOVE it (and are learning a ton!). 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!).
7. You can’t do it all and that’s ok!
Accept it and embrace it. It’s impossible to do everything. It just isn’t realistic. Life happens.
I love this article on this very topic. “Only Wonder Woman can do it all, and all at once. And she isn’t real”. Finding balance sounds so simple but it’s crazy hard. It’s an ongoing process to find a good balance and sadly there isn’t a hard and fast rule for finding it. What creates balance for my family, may not work for yours.
8. Create a dedicated work space. You don’t have to devote an entire room of your house to it (although it’s awesome if you can!), but a desk in a corner somewhere with all your work items will help you stay focused and organized.
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 meals around your schedule. On busy days, I plan a slow cooker meal or other easy, healthy dinner. I frequently double meals to freeze half for easy meals later in the month.
I made this simple menu board cabinet to keep on track (yes, another list!).
Work smarter, not harder. This is something I’m majorly focusing on this year. I’m cutting back on unnecessary things and learning to say no so I don’t over-commit myself (I tend to do that!).
For bloggers, focus on doing more of the posts that are your biggest traffic drivers and/or make you look forward to working. Finding my “niche” has taken me years! Learn about and use SEO to your advantage. Choose quality content over quantity of posts. Follow trends (but make them your own!). See what people are pinning and take notes. Use a scheduling tools for social media and Pinterest. (You can read more about the ones I use in this post on Blogging Resources).
My secret weapons: Coffee: It fuels my days. Hats: For when there’s no time to do my hair.
And no, I don’t wear makeup on Mondays, for the record. 🙂