Striking a work-life balance isn’t easy for most of us. Especially us moms. We are constantly being pulled in 100 different directions, from meal prep, to after school activities, household responsibilities, boo-boo kisses, tear wiping, and everything in between! It can most certainly get overwhelming. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years as a mother, is that taking care of yourself should be your number one priority. Yes, I said it! Not your kids, not your husband but you! Why?
Because if you’re not the healthiest, happiest version of yourself, you won’t be any good to anyone else. Without self-preservation you’ll quickly realize that you don’t have much else to offer those who matter most.
How to be a WFH Mom
I wasn’t always a work from home mom, but in recent years I was blessed with the opportunity to do my work from the comfort of my house. Though it’s a blessing in so many ways, it’s also a curse. It’s sometimes difficult to motivate. It’s also very easy to become distracted by other household responsibilities like laundry, cooking, vacuuming and the like. Another hurdle is explaining to your children that mommy is actually working! Yes, she may be home and yes, those are last night’s pajamas, but that doesn’t mean that she can be disturbed. This isn’t an easy concept for most little ones, so here are some tips for helping maintain your sanity while working from home.
Create an Office Space
Creating a designated office space for your work is the first step to successfully working from home. This holds true whether or not you have kids. You’ll be amazed at how much more focused and motivated you are when you have a place to call your own when it comes time to work. Trying to sit at the dining room table or in bed isn’t really conducive to a productive work environment.
This will come in super handy when your kids are at home. You can retreat to your office and explain to them that this is where mommy goes to work. When mommy is in her office she needs quiet and she’s concentrating. It may take some time for your children to grasp the concept, depending on their age, but they’ll quickly learn that even though mommy is in the house when she’s in her office, she’s working.
I am guilty of this and have been trying very hard to adhere to a timeframe and schedule. If you’ve never worked from home you may not realize that sometimes, it’s difficult to know when enough is enough. To turn off the computer, shut your phone, and unplug from your work life. Because your work overflows into your home space, sometimes lines become blurred.
Schedule your day and work hours just as you would if you traveled to an office outside your home. I currently work in the morning from 5:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. I wake my son and get him off to school before returning to my desk at 8:30 a.m. I work until 2:00 p.m. when I stop to incorporate exercise into my day, shower, and button things up before my son arrives off the bus at 3:00 p.m. I try very hard not to return to my computer or desk until my son is asleep.
That after-school time is precious and special. He deserves my undivided attention. On those rare occasions that an assignment or project requires my attention outside of my regularly scheduled hours, I will adjust my schedule, but I make every effort to stick to the work hours I’ve set forth. If not, I’m at risk of being overworked and missing out on quality time with my family.
Focus on What’s Fulfilling
Not everyone has the luxury of doing what they love for a living. But if you’re a working mom, it’s important to try and find a job that you enjoy doing. Why? Because your true full-time job is being a mom, which is the most demanding yet fulfilling job on earth. The problem is, there is no time clock for motherhood. You never punch out, there are no vacation or sick days and you’re on emergency call 24/7. You need patience, compassion and discipline. Could you imagine trying to accomplish all of those things as a mom following a day at a job you can’t stand? It can be done, but it’s not ideal.
If you’re able, find a job that makes you happy. One that fulfills your passion. Do you love health and fitness? A career in personal training might be perfect for you! You’ll have the ability to schedule clients based on your lifestyle and availability. If you love to write, there are countless opportunities for freelance work online. Teaching careers offer a great schedule for while your children are in school and allow you summers off. Remember, feeding your own interests will only make you a better, more well-rounded and patient mother.
If I’ve learned one thing as a busy mom it’s that if you don’t schedule time for something, it usually doesn’t happen. It’s all too easy to put things off. But scheduling time with your children and family is not one of those things. If you work a full-time job that requires you to be away from home more times than not, it means that those times when you are home are all the more precious. And should be treated as such.
This means dedicating specific days and times for family time. This can be achieved in so many different ways from a family walk after dinner, a trip to the park on Saturday morning or church on Sunday. Whatever it is, add it to your calendar or date book and commit to it. Commit to family time the same way you commit to a business call or meeting. It’s an appointment on your calendar that needs to be kept. In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a mom, scheduling family time is non-negotiable.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a mom takes time. It’s not something that will likely happen overnight, but anything worth having normally doesn’t. Start small by buying yourself a planner. Then, slowly start filling that planner with both work and family-orientated appointments.
If you’re stuck in a rut at your current job, start searching online for other options that will fit your schedule and feed your passion. If you find it difficult to “turn off” as a WFH mom, specify what time your workday ends and stick to it! No sneaking on your computer while the children play outside or checking emails on your phone during dinner. No work means no work. Hold yourself accountable!
I’m not saying the change will be easy and not all of these changes are practical for all working moms. Take a look at your individual situation and find ways to make it work for you. Your children and your future self will thank you.