I am a work from home mom. I haven’t always been a work from home mom. When the two oldest children were toddlers, I worked part time around their father’s schedule. Now, we only have one baby bird in the nest. And because of his delays, he will always live at home.
However, working from home as a mom is romanticized online. More quality time with the kids, not paying for daycare, adding to the family’s bottom line. It’s all smiles and sunshine!
Except that it isn’t. Work from home jobs for moms can suck just as much as having a traditional job. For some, it can be worse than working a more traditional part or full time job. Working from home isn’t for everyone. You must be able to self-start. You must be able to prioritize. You must be able work on your own. But, hey you still get to be home with the kids. I love working from home as a mom. There’s a definite learning curve involved. Here are my top 7 tips to make work from home jobs for moms suck less.
Get Dressed, Every Day
Yes, I know…part of the allure for both being a stay at home mom and working from home is wearing pajamas. I mean, there’s all kinds of stock art of moms and kids smiling and lounging around in pajamas with the sun streaming into the room where mom sits working at her computer or being on the phone.
The reality of working from home is that the pajamas you’re wearing has stains on it from wiping up whatever mess the kids made and maybe not even knowing the last time you changed your shirt because you’ve not left the house. And when was the last time you washed, let alone brushed, your hair? And when we don’t take care of ourselves even at a basic level, it rubs off on the rest of daily lives. And then the self-loathing kicks in or gets worse. And then the depression starts or gets worse.
If you take nothing else away from this blog post, get dressed every single day. Put on a clean shirt. Put on a clean pair of shorts, jeans, a skirt, or whatever. Get dressed. Science shows that we feel better when we take this one step.
Create the Right Routine for Your Life
My daily routine is different from yours. It’s different from other work from home moms. And that’s okay. There’s a lot of information online about how you can “hack your life” and “supercharge your day” to be more productive. The funny part is that most of those articles rehash the same information. While there is some validity to many of the points in those types of articles, they don’t necessarily take being a parent and working from home into consideration.
You’ll likely have to test out several routines to find what works best for you. And you may find two or three that work well. That’s great. You have a plan and a backup plan and another backup plan.
Even those who work outside of the home have some kind of routine. Many times, we moms create household routines for the whole family. And our children often have routines. So, of course, you need one if you’re going to work from home.
If you have school-age children, the best routine may be for you to work during the time they are in school. If your children aren’t school age, you’ll have to consider getting up earlier than they do for uninterrupted work time. We all know that while silence is golden, a quiet toddler is suspect. My sons were not really prone to naps after they turned about a year old.
They key to a routine that works is following through with it. We follow through even when it sucks. Or when we’re tired. Or whatever. At the same time, being a mom means that we must also be flexible. Sometimes, children just have a bad day. And we must work around that as well as their needs. Our ten year old has autism and goes to various therapies. So, our schedules (we both pretty much have separate ones) work around what he needs.
Accept That This Isn’t a Balancing Act
Work-life balance is a common concern for many people. It does not exist. It especially does not exist for those of us who literally live in our work space. That also highlights the need to adopt and maintain a routine…so that you do get some downtime.
Remember how I said that work from home jobs for moms are romanticized? That the dream is all smiles and laughter and clean pajamas? The fact is that when you’re working, you’ll feel guilty for not spending that time with your kids or doing the dishes or vacuuming or whatever. And when you’re spending time with the kids, doing dishes, or vacuuming, you’ll feel guilty about not working more on client matters.
This is not a balancing act. It is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that many of us adopt for personal reasons. I, for one, can’t stand daycare facilities. I also can’t imagine leaving my nonverbal child with someone because he can’t tell us if something happens. You may found that it is a battle for you, just as it sometimes is for me, to not feel that guilt. A lot of moms who work outside of the home feel the same way.
Enjoy the time with your children. And learn to focus and enjoy your professional pursuits.
Recognize That Work from Home Mom Jobs Are Just That: Work
I am always slightly shocked when someone comes to me and says that they can’t believe how their work from home mom job is actual work. And I’m always likes…well, yeah. Your clients NEED these things done…often on a deadline. It takes work to prioritize and push through when you’re tired or stressed. There’s no one standing over you to make sure that you’re doing what you agreed to do. You are your own boss.
Get some sort of planner or use Outlook’s task manager and break down your projects with deadlines. Then, learn when you’re most productive and try to work during that time. I know that’s not always possible. Sometimes you will have to work when you’re tired or don’t feel like it. That’s what makes it hard. Treat it like a real job because that’s what it is.
Protect Your Schedule
No, you cannot ignore your work and go run errands for someone else or watch their kid(s) on top of your own. No, you cannot just do it later. Later often never comes, especially when you’re tired from doing things for others. Your work time is your work time.
Ditch the Distractions
Unless your job is creating and implementing a social media strategy for clients, stay off Facebook, IG, and Twitter during your work time. You can use tools, such as Buffer or Zoho Social, to create and send out promotional work or memes on your behalf at the best possible times. I promise you that the vaguebook statuses, drama, and name calling will all be there later. The hours you spend daily on social media is prime time you could invest into growing your work from home empire.
Put your cell phone on vibrate and place it out of sight. I leave mine on vibrate instead of DND mode because I have a kid in school. If the school calls, I need to know. So, my cell phone is on silent and sits behind my laptop monitor or just out of my eye sight.
Turn off your email notifications and set specific times to check your email. Email is one of the biggest time wasters for people…and don’t bother with Inbox Zero. You’ll likely never reach it.
Learn to Embrace the Suck
Some days, working from home just plain sucks. I could give you tons of reasons why this happens, but that doesn’t matter. Those are the times when you must buckle down and learn to embrace the suck. Pushing through as best you can makes you more resilient which will lead to an increased sense of confidence that you can do this.