How To Work From Home Without Losing Your Mind
Want to know how to work from home without losing your mind? Here are some tips to help you out from a mom who has worked at home for the past six years!
Yes, working at home is very cool and incredible and all those things people say because I get to sit in my PJS all day. (Which by the way, I never do, but I do get to wear t-shirts, jeans, and my chucks if I want so that’s pretty cool)
Over the past few years, the minute I tell someone I work from home, the first thing they say to me is, “Oh that must be nice!” or “Wow, you’re lucky!’ or something along those lines.
Well, let me tell you, it is WAY harder to work from home than any other job outside of the home that I have ever have! At least it has been with children in the house! The constant….and when I say constant, I mean CONSTANT interruptions are unbelievable!!
I remember a good friend of mine telling me that her husband started to work from home a few years back (mind you, they have 5 children) and they made an office out of one of their rooms. I thought this was so cool for him! Less than a year later she told me he decided to rent out an office space because it was too distracting, especially in the summer since she stayed home with the kids. At the time, I didn’t really get it but now…..OMG do I get it!
A typical day for me is pretty insane and to give you a break down of my own situation, I have 3 kids ages 2, 5, & 7. For the most part, the older two aren’t as difficult as the youngest but they require different needs, which I’ll get into later. My husband works the craziest swing shift hours and isn’t home that often which leads me to do the majority of the parenting alone. I work as a consultant part-time so I am able to set my own schedule which is good. I also run this blog here which I’ve dedicated a lot of time to so I try to squeeze this into my day as well. I am basically NEVER alone so I’ve had to find ways to work around my kid’s schedules and my husband’s.
Let me ay this- it isn’t easy and I have no privacy ever! However, I am blessed to be able to be here for my kids at all times whenever they need me. The most difficult part is when I have a deadline for work or a great idea in mind for my website and want to get that done ASAP but I can’t because my kid’s take top priority.
Here are a few things that I have learned over the past 4 years from working at home to help other moms/dads out there in the same boat. I have tried many different situations and I now know what works for me and what doesn’t. If you can implement some of these tips into your life, it will help you focus, get your work done, and still be a great parent without losing your mind! However, you may still be a tired parent…I’m not sure that ever goes away! 😩
1. Have your own work space~
Having a home office is obviously ideal but not everyone has the extra space for a whole room to themselves, especially in the beginning.
If that’s the case, turn a corner of your bedroom into your own space, or a utilize the dining room or any spot/corner that’s empty and put a small desk there and all your necessities.
As a mother, we wear many hats and it’s important to have a space dedicated just for your work stuff so it doesn’t get mixed in with everything else. It’s also crucial just to have a space that you love and is just for YOU! We tend to give all of ourselves to our children and not leave much left for yourself. I love my office space so much that I look forward to having a few hours to myself in there to work. That’s how you should feel too! It will help you work harder and be more productive!
Here are some cute desks from Amazon that will give you home office/work space ideas! Click the photos for more information:
2. Make a schedule but be FLEXIBLE~
Every Sunday, I try to make a weekly schedule of what times I’m going to work and what times I can work on my blog. I try to spend at least 6-8 hours a week on my website and 4 hours a day as a consultant.
Make sure this is flexible because as you all know with kids, anything can come up. You could have a child home puking all day and be stuck cleaning, cuddling, helping them, doing laundry, and disinfecting the entire house so no one else gets it! This can completely throw off your day! Of course, once they are over it, the sibling will get it and then you have another day that you couldn’t get anything done that you planned!!!
So make sure it is flexible and if not, then make sure you have a back up plan for emergency situations! Daily/Weekly/Monthly planners are a Godsend for me because I have so much going on with both jobs and my kids that I need to keep track of it all. Feel free to print out my free 3 page planner printables below to help you stay organized too!
3. Work in the early morning hours or late at night~
This is the ultimate secret of working at home, especially if you’re also a STAY at HOME mom at the same time! I’m talking no sitters or daycare occasionally, you are ON all the time!
I’m not going to lie, it’s exhausting doing both. However, I love being with my kids and I love my job, so being able to be with them and still make an income is incredible and something I’m so thankful for every day.
Yet, it sure isn’t easy! That’s why I say be flexible because there are days that I put my 2 yr old to bed at 7pm and I pass out laying there with her! That means that the extra hour I normally work at night on my website has just been lost! So be prepared for anything because you never know what can come up!
It’s funny, because I use to be a night person and always thought I’d stay one. I’ve bartended on the weekends from the time I was 20-35 and it never bothered me working late until I had my second child. Life gets harder with 2 kids! Once I had my third….forgetaboutit! I’m done talking or thinking by 7pm!! Yes, I’ve become that lame but I’m just tired!
I realize I work best in the mornings so I wake up at 3:30 and I work until 6am during the week. My youngest gets up anywhere between 5-6 so this is when I have to be flexible again. Once my older two are awake, it’s go time and I need to put my laptop away. I’ll work another hour when my youngest naps during the week and my other two are in school. Then from 7-8pm, I’ll finish anything I didn’t get to and I do website/blog work.
Yep, it’s crazy but this is what works for me. I try not to do a lot on the weekends but if my kids are busy watching a movie or playing with friends, I’ll work until 7 or 8am some weekend mornings. Many moms that I know that work from home are more night people so they work once their kids are in bed by 8 until 10pm or later. I am just too tired from my long day to even think at that time, so I work mornings. I also have little ones that sleep really good from 7-12 but love to wake me between the hours of 12-4. If I don’t get at least 4 hours of sleep, I can’t function the next day and this happens OFTEN!
If you already know that you’re a night person, then set your work schedule up so that you dedicate that time for yourself. Only you know what times work best for you and your family but try to utilize your children’s sleeping or nap hours as much as possible! Trust me, you’ll have so many fewer distractions!
4.Take Advantage of Nap Time or make a Quiet time~
If your children are still little, then you will obviously work while they nap. Besides my morning hours, I am also very productive during this time. The problem is with the older children that don’t nap!
When my older girls are home for the day and I need to get work done, I bring them into my office with me and give them art projects to do. I tell them their baby sister is napping so it’s our “quiet time” and I’ll have my 7-year-old do her reading then and my 5-year-old practice writing/reading once they finish their art projects. I tell them we all have to work together for one hour and then we can do something fun after.
They usually are great about it and the only problems are when they argue with one another over something silly like who has the best marker! For the most part, they feel like they are working like a big girl with Mommy so it’s pretty cool to them.
5. Make Separate Schedules/Lists~
This is similar to setting a schedule but slightly different. Make a list each day of what you need to get done. I’m talking two lists here, one for work and one for mom stuff.
My mom stuff can be so damn long that I want to cry some days!!! I look at my work list and think how in the hell will I ever get to that? But I always do, and making the list helps me because even if I get to cross off 2 things on it, then I know I made some progress.
The mom list includes the basics that are like a mile long, paperwork for schools, doc appointments for kids, dinner, grocery store lists, cleaning, laundry…..I could go on forever but I really don’t want to bore you because we all know this list is never-ending!
However overwhelming it can get, make it anyway because you’ll need it to help you stay organized so you can then focus on the fun parts of being a momma! Whatever little things you can do to free up your time or make life easier for you, then take advantage of them!
If your local grocery store has an online order and pick-up/delivery, then take advantage of this! Hire a cleaning woman once every so often if you need to, or better yet, do what I do and have a cleaning chart for your kids to help clean the house so it frees up time for you to do fun stuff with them later!
Take advantage of Target’s Red Card and Free shipping on all products if you are a Target shopper! (I don’t know many moms who aren’t lol)
Also, and most importantly, get Amazon Prime! I actually know a mother of 4 kids who doesn’t have this and I may buy it for her as a gift! It is the best time saver/blessing I have ever had! If I forget a gift for someone or need something ASAP for the kid’s school projects or whatever and can’t get to the store, I know Amazon will have it and be here in 2 days as promised! I could go on and on about Amazon Prime but you can read more about that here! Do your self a favor and get it if you don’t have already, trust me, you’ll thank me! These little things can help shorten that huge mom list we have!
6. Have activities planned~
This one is especially for those summer months when the kids are home all day with you! The night before or early that morning when you know you have a ton of work to do, prepare yourself for whiny kids who want to do something and need to stay busy!
Think of some great activities they can do to keep them busy while you are working. For school aged children, bring out the art projects! Anything that can keep them content for at least 30-45 min will be a lifesaver for you! My older girls that are 5 & 7 actually enjoy coming into my office and doing their own work as I like to call it. They have their own small kid’s table and chairs in there so I work with them and they think it’s super cool!
For the little ones, break out those toys or give them a box full of blocks that will keep them content for at least 5 min and then have another one lined up quickly after!
Go on Pinterest and come up with some great kid’s projects and tell them they get to work hard just like Mommy and they will love it! For some awesome activity ideas for your little ones, check out Teacher Turned Mom’s page that’s full of ideas to keep your kids busy for hours!
That way, when Mommy or Daddy do have to get work done, they won’t feel ignored or interrupt you as much. They might just enjoy “work time” with you! Here is a simple Race Track Activity I made out of tape for the kids. Takes 5 min to make and all you need is tape, some cars, and your imagination! Kids loved it! 😍
I have a closet that I keep stocked with playdoh, art supplies, kinetic sand, and aquabeads! I rotate them through and bring new ones out to play. My older girls even love the playdoh! If you get a cool playdoh set like the ones below, it will keep your kids busy for a while! Here are some toys I’ve used that have helped buy me some working hours! My kids love this stuff!
I love this one below because you can fold it up and store it easily!
These water toys 👆 have literally bought me hours of work time! I’m not even kidding! I bring my laptop and sit outside and watch my crew play. Yes, they may ask me 20 times for popsicles or someone has to go potty constantly but I never said anything was perfect! I am able to get a lot more done and these toys are so much better than plopping them in front of the TV!
Make sure you set goals for yourself every month and especially every year. This helps me stay focused when I’m exhausted and my mommy list and work list are so full that I’m about to lose my mind!
I look over at my goals and they help remind me why I work so hard as a writer/consultant and as a mother. Put your goals where you can see them on a daily basis and explain to your children your goals and make one for them as well!
Goal charts or vision boards are crucial in being successful! You can get your own free 8 page goal printables here! Below is a sneak peek of the printables! Keep these somewhere in your office or on your desk where you can see them daily!
8. Back-UP Plan For Deadline Days or Emergency Situations~
If you do have a really important deadline coming up or a conference call/Skype Meeting and a child is sick or home at that time, be sure to have some back-up plan.
If you’re lucky to have family close by (I’m unfortunately not), see if they can watch your little one or hire a sitter just for the hour if possible. If you don’t have a back-up plan, you’ll be stressed it and won’t be able to concentrate or do a good job. I had to learn this the hard way once and had my incredibly talkative and curious 4-year-old walk in on a Skype interview. My 4-year-old was amazed with Skype and wanted to know all about who I was talking to and what I was doing! Even when I got her to be quiet, she didn’t leave the room and when the woman asked me a question, I stumbled over my words and had no clue what the question was about or what she had said for the past few minutes prior to the question since I was busy shushing my daughter away! 😩 Needless to say, I didn’t get that job! (It’s all good though, I got a better one instead! 😉)
My point is, make sure when you have an important conference or meeting that your kids are in good hands so it won’t cause any extra stress on your part. Working from home is a blessing because I am able to be present for all the things my family needs. However, it definitely has its ups and downs and most people don’t realize how difficult it can be to concentrate with so many distractions. You can have great days where you get everything done you wanted to accomplish, then other days a child gets sick or something comes up and you just have to roll with it!
Working from home with your kids CAN be done but you need to be very organized and prioritize like crazy so you don’t lose your mind! 😉
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