I became a work-at-home mom by default. When my hubby was accepted to medical school and we had to move around so much, my original job fell by the wayside and I was unable to find work in some of the cities that we lived in. At the time, we only had 1 child, so it wasn’t too much of a big deal. It was nice to be home with her and not blow most of my paycheck on daycare for her while I went to work.
After she started kindergarten, I struggled to find things to fill my time while everyone was gone. I started blogging as just a hobby to give me something to do. Over the years, we’ve added more kiddos to our family and I made a decision to stay home with all of them and turn my blog into my business and my job that I work at every day.
Yes, even on the weekends.
Working from home always sounds ideal. You can take calls in bed, do work in your pajamas, and lounge on the couch while taking calls or answering e-mails. On paper, it sounds way more ideal than getting up at the crack of dawn, getting ready, driving to and from work every day, and sitting in a stuffy office between beige walls of boringness.
However, as a work-from-home-mom myself, I can tell you that while it is amazing to have the flexibility of being at home, most days it’s also a huge struggle.
Working from home, you’re constantly juggling your work and home lives. Yes, it is great to be at home with 2 of my kiddos but it’s also a struggle to get all the things done all the time. Of course, it’s not impossible… if it was no one would be doing it. You just need to find strategies that work for you to keep everything running smoothly.
Here’s how I work from home with small kids:
Designate a Workspace
This definitely varies for me depending on what I am working on. If I am writing and recipe testing my “office” is in the kitchen. If I am photographing, then my “office” is in the dining room or the bedroom depending on the time of day and where the light is better.
However, if I am writing posts or doing any of the back-end things that keep my blog running, I need to have a dedicated space to get that done. Sure, I love having the flexibility of being able to work from the kitchen counter, couch, or wherever in the house I want to plant my behind but I’ve realized that my productivity increases if I keep certain tasks in certain areas.
I’m less likely to get distracted when working in my office as compared to the kitchen or living room. Plus, it helps my kids know that mommy is working when I’m in there and that I’m busy. Of course, they can come in and ask for things but they know it’s a place for work and they tend to leave me alone (for the most part).
The work space serves as a essential and visible barrier between my work and family responsibilities.
Put my Phone Away
I have been terrible at checking my phone lately and I really want to change that. I don’t really need to check every notification that pops up and ruins my focus, so I’ve started leaving my phone in the bedroom on the charger.
Leaving it there cuts down on the phone screen time and also checking every notification that comes in and then falling into the black hole that is social media. It’s also still close enough that if I receive a call, I can reach it before it goes to voicemail.
You can also try and just turn your phone over instead so that you don’t even see the notification coming through. I tried that and it didn’t work well for me so in the bedroom it is.
Recruit the Kids to Help
I’ve started letting the kids help me more when creating and photographing recipes. I used to never let them help because I thought they would just create a bigger mess for me to clean up, but it turns out the opposite is true. With just a few simple directions, they are able to do everything I ask with minimal mess and they even help clean up! Score!
Also, they really love helping mommy bake and cook and even set up for shoots. They love to gather ingredients or get props for me that I might need. They love the feeling of being needed and helping. I love that I get to be in the kitchen spending time with and teaching my kids while also working at the same time.
And of course, we all reap the rewards with delicious food when we’re done working.
Get Up Earlier
With kids, it’s always so difficult to stay 100% on schedule. However, if I get up just 1 hour before the rest of the house I can get most of my to-do list done before they even open their eyes in the morning. I start the day feeling and having accomplished so much and can then dive into the kids morning routine and not be rushed to get into the office and get my things done.
I also always take advantage of the quite time we have every day during nap. The little two go down for a nap while the older two have quite time in their room for 2 hours. It’s a win-win-win for everyone and I get to finish up my to-do list.
Create a Stick to a Schedule
I’ve been mentioning my to-do list throughout this article and it really is the most important part of working at home. You have to create and stick to your schedule… weather that be while your kids are napping or for your full workday.
I cannot function and stay on task without a to-do list or schedule for my time throughout the day. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the household things that you know need to get done while working. If you have a list of your work stuff and your home stuff then you can designate time for each throughout the day and not feel overwhelmed and that you don’t have time for anything.
Learn to Say No
Let’s face it, you have to give up things when working at home just like when you’re working outside your home. You can’t expect to do all the kids activities, volunteer activities, and all your friend/family activities and expect to get all your work done also.
I found this out the hard way when I found myself on too many nights staying up way too late to get projects done because I had said yes to too many other things. It has gotten easier over the years and I’ve also learned better how to prioritize so that I can say yes to things and not have to worry.
Working from home is the most rewarding because I get to have that precious time with my kids while also providing for my family. I wouldn’t have it any other way!