My favorite thing in the world is being a “work from home mom.” It’s right smack in the middle of stay at home mom (full time job) and working mom (also a full time job). Working from home with kids is definitely the equivalent of two full time jobs. And some days it feels like you’re juggling a double serving of both!
I have worked from home since before my children were born, and my side-hustle-turned-thriving-business has seen me through every stage since. With no children and free as a bird, through crisis and grief, during bedrest, with infants, with 2 under 2, with 1 or both in school, and now with a new baby all over again. My husband works from home now too, so that’s added an extra blessing (and chaos) to the mix.
The beauty of working from home is that it is always, always, always adaptable to your current life season. And even more amazing is that YOU call all the shots! It’s good to be the Queen.
Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s an absolute logistical and physical nightmare. My laptop gets buried under baseball equipment, my freshly pumped breast milk spills on a beautifully printed report, and I use dry shampoo for the 5th day in a row so I can get to carline on time after finishing my workday.
But most days, calm and intentional productivity reigns supreme and we’re able to knock out everything we need to do with time to spare. Even while working from home with baby.
By using great time management, managing work life balance, and establishing a child care schedule for working at home with kids, you can create a work from home lifestyle you absolutely love.
Time Management Tips for Work From Home Moms
When you work from home it’s easy to work all day, or not at all. Every day brings a fresh blank canvas that can either be turned into a beautiful masterpiece or get completely overrun with colors I didn’t choose. It’s all up to me how I use my day. So if I set my intentions and stick to my plan, I can feel great about what I’m intending to accomplish. However, if I don’t set those intentions, I end up reacting to everyone else’s needs and my own agenda gets pushed off the table.
Most of us can accomplish a fantastic day of work in 4 solid focused hours. How do we make it work?
Schedule personal time FIRST.
Without it, the day just doesn’t go well. Are you filling your mind with great positive material, feeding your body with wholesome meals and exercise, and nurturing your spirit and faith? Especially working from home, you will be pulled in countless directions every day. Get centered and grounded FIRST and the rest will fall into place so much easier. That hour of the day is a non-negotiable if you want to maintain your sanity and enjoy a life working from home with kids.
Set your schedule the way you want it. (graphic: weekly plan sheet. Alt text: schedule for moms|time management tips for stay at home moms|calendar|weekly plan sheet)
Get everybody on the same page with a simple weekly plan sheet shared with your family. Post it on the fridge or share it digitally. When you respect your own time, you will teach your people to respect it too. Which means: when you’re working, you’re working. And even more importantly, when you’re finished working, put the work away. Turn off the computer and put your phone down. That time off, spent with your family, is everyone’s reward for working so hard in the first place.
When my children were 2 and 3, my husband was still working outside the home and I did not have the luxury of daily help with them. That meant that I had to take calls sometimes while they were awake. We established an understanding that when Mommy’s office door was closed it was never to be opened unless it was an emergency. They could hold up a sign or a picture or wave to me through the glass of the French doors, but while I was on the phone I was not going to refill sippy cups or snacks, retrieve lost toys, settle disagreements, or otherwise help them with whatever game I had set them up with before my call. When it was over and they had managed well without me for 15 minutes, they earned a high-value reward (appropriate for their ages) like bubbles or a popsicle. Use what you have – you know what they like. Did this system work 100% of the time? Of course not. But it was a decent plan that was mostly effective.
The baby is going to cry. The bug guy is going to be late. The post office is going to be a zoo and a conference call is going to run long. Unexpected delays and distractions will happen. How you respond to these curve balls will either create peace or provoke chaos. Control the controllables and give yourself (and everyone else) grace when things change.
How to balance work and family tips
This single aspect of working from home can make or break the whole experience. Managing work life balance is the proverbial holy grail for any working mom! The fact of the matter is that the idea of “balance” can feel incredibly frustrating. For things to balance, the scale stands still. Since when does any working mother’s life stand still? We’ll make ourselves crazy trying to chase that unattainable goal of balance.
Strive for equilibrium, not balance
Instead of balance, in our home we embrace the idea of equilibrium. Equilibrium means all areas of our life are functioning in harmony. In seasons where work requires more of my focus and attention, my commitments to children’s school activities takes a back seat. In seasons where the kids’ sports playoff schedules take over our entire week, I structure my work more intently. When my marriage needs more TLC, we budget for a quality date night and a better sitter once a week. Most of all, in every area of my life, I have to get honest about what needs to be done now, what can wait until a later time, and what I can delegate to someone else.
Do it, drop it, or delegate it
You cannot do it all, mama. It’s not a badge of honor to burn out at both ends. So when the tasks start piling up, and you feel pulled in every direction, ask yourself: Is this something I have to do personally? If so, I’ll DO it. If not, and often it’s not, then I will DELEGATE IT to someone else who will do a wonderful job. (Perhaps they won’t do it as well as I might, but they will save my time and my sanity by being willing to fill in.) And when all else fails, if I can’t do it, or delegate it, it’s time to DROP it.
It really is okay to say no
It’s okay to say no. It’s a gift to yourself and other people to set and respect your own boundaries. From an entire toolbox of balancing work and family tips, this is the simplest fix… and the hardest to do. When you say “no” to things lower on the priority list, you can give a full and present “yes” to the things – and the people – that matter most.
Working from home with kids tips
Work out a child care system you love
I’ve found that my main stressor is child care. The entire reason I worked so hard to become self/home employed is so that I did not have to arrange a child care situation for my little people. But there are some events and appointments where my children simply cannot be present. Often, my husband and I can trade off care of our children but it can feel incredibly draining when I need help and don’t have it.
I’m a big fan of the barter system. What product/service do you offer that can be traded for help with your small children a few hours a week? OR, are you willing to pay for help with menial tasks like paper filing, or even household chores like laundry or grocery pickup? Buy or barter your balance. There is only so much “you” to go around.
I know something is out of whack when I start feeling frustrated with my children… for being children. It is not their fault they need me. They are supposed to need me. However, if I am pulled so thin that I begin resenting my children for needing me, I know it’s time to ask for or arrange more help.
Ask for good help
What does good help look like? Neighbor kids are wonderful resources and every teenager I know is eager to earn a little extra cash. (I trade for beauty products, consistent with my line of work!) Train them on the job. They supervise the children for an hour or two while you work in the other room with an ear to the door. Repeat this process until you trust them. Every mama needs a list of 5-6 quality, reliable sitters she can call.
Don’t have reliable neighbor kids or church kids? Trade off mornings with a mom friend. You keep all the little ones M/W mornings for a couple hours, then she keeps them T/Th. It costs you nothing, and gives you 2 free mornings a week to conquer your task list uninterrupted.
A hidden perk here is that you will have a kid-free from time to time. Those little windows here and there will refresh your spirit and you will pick up your kids as a more relaxed, patient, and present mother.
Cash in on a good sleep schedule: tips for moms to save time
It’s work to get small children on the same nap schedule. But it will save you to have a guaranteed block in the middle of the day to work. But even if that won’t work, are you maximizing the hour before the children wake up and the hour right after they go to bed? There is available time hiding right in plain sight. Make better use of those bookend hours and you’ll amaze yourself with what you can accomplish. In addition, make sure you’re getting to bed at a decent time yourself. If your own sleep schedule gets out of sync, it’s hard to catch up. And without good sleep, your focus, productivity, patience, and general wellness all suffer.
Working from home with kids: it’s all worth it
Working from home is the greatest blessing for our family and it can be for yours too. It takes hard work and logistical engineering, and plenty of patience. But with good time management tips, establishing reliable child care, and embracing the idea of equilibrium rather than balance, you can enjoy working from home and design the life you love!
Jessica is a wife, infant loss and adoption mother, entrepreneur, and writer of true stories. Interested in more tips for creating your best life? Check out Jessica’s corner of the Internet at www.heartfullypresent.com