So this might be a little misleading, if you have kids you most likely feel a little insane already. And if you work at home with them running around, the insane meter might be through the roof.
I am a work at home mom, I’ve held this title since my youngest daughter was born 8 years ago.
During that time, I’ve had my kids at home at different ages while I had different work responsibilities.
I’ve found that there are different types of “working at home”
Employee: This is when you have someone keeping track of your hours and what you do during those hours. Personally, I feel this is the hardest role to fill if you work at home with kids. There is extra pressure that comes with being an employee.
I feel like you are more likely to have someone breathing down your neck to make sure your job is being done and you are using your time wisely.
When I started to work at home, I was an employee. I had set working hours and felt that I had to ignore my kiddos a bit more to fulfill my job requirements.
Contract: The majority of the time I did contract work. Contract work is when you do have to answer to someone and get tasks completed or results expected within a timely manner.
I’ve found contract work to be pretty suitable as I could make my own hours, work when I wanted as long as I was getting things done.
Although I did run into contract work where they did expect me to work certain hours and always be available. If this is the situation you are in, make sure to be clear and direct and let your contractors know that as a contractor you can make your own hours. This position is all about setting your own boundaries and sticking to your guns.
Working for your Self: This is where I am now. Finally. It’s taken some time to build myself up to this but here I am. It does take self discipline. Not in working to little – but in overworking.
This offers the most freedom when you have kids at home. Although you have a lot of pressure because you don’t always have work just flowing in like it’s guaranteed in the previous two.
You have to find work, clients and resources while completing the work promised.
Working for yourself can be double the work. Yet I feel it’s rewarding. My best advice is to love what you do because it does take sacrifice, commitment and a dream.
Being a Mom Period: By far the most demanding position you have. Even if you work outside of the home, you are constantly planning, worrying, organizing and just being a mom. This position never stops and it’s done while doing everything else.
So in working from home, in the beginning I had my kids home with me all day long. Which is really tough. I’m not going to sugar coat that one. Kids need attention and I found that my working time was divided in to 5 minute increments before I was interrupted for juice, snacks, finding items and giving needed attention. I worked twice as long to get things done and at times it was highly frustrating.
Now it is so much easier because my kids are in school for a full day which gives me a whole day of uninterrupted time to work.
Overall, I liked working from home and here are some tips I’m hoping will help you.
Take Lunch – So many times, I put lunch together and head right back to the computer while shoving a sandwich in my mouth and typing away.
I’ve tried to make it a practice to take some time during the day to recharge. Sit down with the kids and eat lunch before they were in school and just have fun.
Take Breaks - Have set break times where you can tell your kids, “I am going to work until ______ then I’m going to play with your for _____________ and then again at ______________.” This helps them understand you have work time and focused attention play time. If the kids need something that can wait, you simply let them know at such and such a time you’ll be able to attend to their needs.
If they kids are in school, you still need breaks. Take a minute to sit outside and smell the fresh air. Simply recharge and let your head clear. Dance to a song. You will be so much more productive with breaks through out your day.
Set Clear Boundaries - This one can be an entire post on its own. You have to set boundaries with everyone when working at home. You have friends that seem to just stop by because you are home. You are expected to watch other kids because you are home and your kids are there.
You also need to set boundaries with your employer/ contractor. Sometimes I’ve found they get it in their mind that it’s such a privilege to work at home that all your time is theirs. This is not true. No matter what your time is your time and you dictate what you can and can not do.
Here is one we often forget. You have to set boundaries with yourself. We think it’s such a privilege to work at home that we give so much of ourselves to think we earned it. So we overwork, but in extra time and run ourselves to the ground.
You need time to replenish you – without work. When your work hours are done, be done. You are more than deserving of time for you and with your family.
House Work is Separate - This is a toughy. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on task when there is a pile of wash that seems to be calling your name. You start thinking how easy it would be to just start a load of dishes and let it run while you finish up a project. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that. I’ve found for myself, I start the wash, then fold the wash, then start to vacuum then I’m on to something else.
Staying focused on work task is what I now do during the day. I don’t do housework at all while I’m working. I’ve learned to ask for help from my family for this and understand I don’t need to do it all. I work during the day and everyone does chores in the evening and on the weekends.
Don’t Over Apologize - When you begin working at home, let your boss/ contractor know you do have children either at home all day or after school hours. If a kid is screaming in the background while you are on the phone (which will happen, kids know and they wait until this opportune moment) it’s to be expected.
You can polity just state you work at home with your kids and go on in the conversation or excuse yourself from it for the moment. Over apologizing for the situation is not needed. If someone doesn’t understand that’s their problem not yours. This is your situation – own it. Don’t apologize for it.
Know Things Will Change - I’ve went from employee to business owner. My kids were home all day to being in school all day. Things change and you move through it all.
The important step is getting started towards what you want. If you want to work from home and are employed, ask if you can work from home a day or two a week.
Know Why - This is a biggie to me. Knowing why you are working from home. Because let me tell you, it’s not all flowers and sunshine. It’s hard work, frustrating and you really question why you take on the insanity.
This is not an easy role to fill working while taking care of kids. But honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. I take my kids to school and pick them up. I’m able now to determine my own hours (even though I still overwork I totally admit it). But I love it. I feel a sense of freedom and happiness I just never got working in an office. It took me years to get to this point and I’m still “arriving” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You are doing the best you can - Be gentle with yourself. There are days when you feel the insanity creeping in and you question why you are doing anything and think it might just be better to join a travelling circus. Give yourself a break. Know that no matter what you are doing – you are doing the best you can and that is more than enough.
I’ve been working from home a long time and I haven’t even touched on the transition you go through when you go from employee to self employed. From office worker to home worker. The transitions are an emotional journey and helps you define yourself – not only as a productive adult but how you keeps your kids occupied and happy as you fulfill work roles.
No matter what you are doing, where you are working or what is expected of you the most important role you are fulfilling is that of a mom. And no matter what that work never ends and it’s the best work you will ever do.