I started working from home when my daughter was born, so I’ve juggled telecommuting through the baby, toddler, preschool and now school-age stages. Each stage comes with its own challenges, but the feeling of being torn in a million directions was always a constant. It’s easy to feel frazzled when you’re at home all day and torn between how to spend your day. Use these tips to keep your sanity as a work at home mom.
Talk It Out
One of my biggest frustrations was my husband’s expectations that the housework would be done, he would come home to a clean house and I would make enough money to pad the bank account. It’s difficult for anyone — even a spouse — to fully understand what it’s like to be a mom who works from home. You feel guilty for ignoring your kids when you work. You feel like you’re not earning enough money when you’re playing with your kids. And the pile of laundry just never goes away.
Sit down with your partner to discuss the arrangement. Let him know what type of support you need and what responsibilities around the house he can tackle to reduce your stress. When you’re on the same page, you will feel a lot more support from your partner, which can help you avoid feeling frazzled.
Make a Schedule
With kids in the picture, no schedule is perfect. But if you have a rough idea of when you’ll work, when you’ll play with the kids and when you’ll tackle the household chores, you are less likely to feel guilty about your day. Build your schedule around the natural routine at home. If you kids go to school, use the daytime hours to hit work hard. Get in the habit of tossing a load of laundry in the washer in the morning and transferring it to the dryer at bedtime. When you actually write out a schedule, you can divide out your day so all of your responsibilities get the time they deserve.
I love checking tasks off my to-do list, but I admit I don’t utilize lists enough. Most telecommuting moms have several different tasks in their heads they know they need to do. Writing those tasks down helps you remember everything. It is also motivating to see the list and finish tasks so you can cross them off. Keep a notebook near your workstation for jotting down a daily to-do list.
Take a Break
When I have a lot of work to do, I tend to strap myself to my computer. But those are often the times I feel the most frazzled and least productive. Stepping away from your work is a quick way to refresh yourself so you are better able to tackle the task. If you find your mind wandering or you’re taking a long time to finish the work, give yourself a break. Get some fresh air, play with the kids or just stretch a little.
Have a Life
When you work from home, it’s tempting to use every free minute to squeeze in more work. Working anytime is one of the perks that keeps me working from home, but you also need some time away from your work. Constantly going all the time is a quick way to burn out. Spend time with friends. Plan family outings. Exercise. Give your hobbies some attention. You’ll feel more relaxed when you give yourself some attention.