Let me preface this by saying all moms are superheroes. Whether you work from home, stay at home, work in an office, or a little combination of everything. Whether you put on scrubs in the morning or a business suit, or your pajamas. You’re raising another human being (or multiple!). You’re incredible.
That said, let’s talk a little bit about working from home. Thanks to the proliferation of the Internet of Things, we’re more connected now than ever before. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the year 2020, there will be more than 8.4 billion “things” talking and interacting with each other.
That increased innovation means there are now more opportunities than ever before for moms to work from home. Whether you opt to freelance write (like me), teach in a virtual classroom, or simply perform your usual in-office duties from the comfort of your living room, you’ve got options.
Sounds ideal, right? Wake up and get some coffee, check your emails, and slowly ease into your workday. Make yourself a sandwich when you want, take a walk to clear your head, then knock out some more work before shutting down early.
Oh yeah, except for one thing. Those kiddos.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my babies. I get all up in their face multiple times per day and squeeze their cheeks and look them in the eye and tell them, “I absolutely adore you.” They’re my everything, but they make it really hard to clock in and stay focused.
After working in the corporate world for seven years, I chose to stay home when I had my daughter. For me, it was an easy decision. It was a dead-end job and I’d had enough. I didn’t feel totally respected and the work was mind-numbingly dull. So I left and decided to pick up writing for fun again. I joined a small marketing firm and created blog posts for tech companies around the world. It was fast-paced, but my newborn slept most of the day, so I was able to keep up.
Then, as they tend to do, my baby grew up. And I had another.
Suddenly, I found myself knee-deep in article assignments, with two toddlers at my heels. They needed to play. They needed to learn from me. Oh yeah, and they needed to eat.
I went crazy for a little while. I stayed up until 4:00 a.m. just to get the work done, so I could be present with them during the day. The irony? I was anything but present. The next morning, I was a shell of a zombie, totally spaced out and incredibly exhausted.
Something had to give. So, I started rearranging things just a bit. What follows is simply what works for me. If you’ve already got a banging work-from-home schedule down pat, by all means keep that rhythm going! These tips make my hectic life a little saner though.
1. Give Yourself Designated Office Hours. Just because your schedule is flexible and you can get things done on your own time doesn’t mean you need to work 24/7. In fact, you shouldn’t. Studies show when we’re exceedingly tired, our production levels dip. Don’t let the rat race kill you. If you’re full-time, designate eight hours of work, or four hours for part-time. This might mean a few hours in the morning and a few at night. Break it up into chunks that work for you and sleep when you can.
2. Make an Office. This one is paramount. For years, I wrote on our sofa into the wee hours of the morning. Then, my hereditary bad back flared up and I was forced to lie on a heating pad for days until the kink worked itself out. Don’t sit at your kitchen table, or on your bedspread. Focus on ergonomics. Set up an office chair at a table and get comfy. The idea is to make your “office” a place you want to work at, not avoid. Don’t risk poor posture or discomfort. Find a practical spot in the house and set up shop.
3. Give Yourself Some Grace. You could have the best office setup in the world and a killer work/life balance but still feel guilty for working when your babies are in the other room watching television. Just me? I try to limit their screen time (and mine) and make sure we’re getting plenty of good experiences in when I’m not at the computer. We do library on Thursdays, nature walks every day, picnic lunches, and more. I’m as present with them as I can possibly be and I still feel a little tinge of guilt at the end of the day. That’s where the grace comes in. Give yourself the freedom to try your hardest and do your best, and love yourself and your family no matter how the day ends up.
You’ve got this, mama. You’re already the hardest worker I know, and we haven’t even met. I know it, and you know it. Guess what? Those babies down the hall? They know it too.