With the current state of things, there will be more and more of us moms working from home. Unless you have a job where you have to work out of home, such as a doctor, hairdresser, or store worker, then you will be working from home more than ever. You might have children at school or you might have children at home at the same time. Even if you have children at school or nursery, they won’t be gone for eight or nine hours a day. So learning the juggle of home life, work life, and mom life is a big struggle for many right now.
When you’re not out working from an office, then you can also struggle with a good work/ life balance at the moment, as you’re home all the time, but your work is right there too. Switching off can be hard, and doing all of other home and life admin needs to get done too. So how are you all doing it, mommas?
If you are navigating this, or will be in the near future, then here are some things to think about, it helps you through. You want to be a productive employee or business owner, but still be a good mom too. Here are some things that could help you.
Make the most of naps
The good news is that children up until a certain age, will nap. Once they are past napping, they are a little more capable to entertain themselves for longer periods of time. So if you have nappers, then they are a vital resource! If you have a baby at home, then until they are one, they are likely to be sleeping for a number of times a day. After that, it is more like once a day, but that can be a long nap which can be vital to help your workload.
Use nap times as a time to really focus on work, and give your time to the most important tasks of the day. You can give your undivided attention to work during nap time, so that should be when your heavy-hitting work gets done. Calls are also a good idea to be scheduled around nap time, if your little one has a good routine. If not, then after nap time is usually a good time as they are going to be much more relaxed and happy than before. So even if they are sitting on your lap as you take a call, they’re more likely to be happy.
A second point to this is that you are likely to get a lot of work done when they’re happiest. This is more often than not post-nap, as described above, as well as when being fed or after being fed. If your little one is weaning or on solid food, then sit and work at the table while they’re in their high chair eating. If you’re nursing, then it can be a good time to read through emails, make plans and lists, or take calls. When your little one is happiest is when there will be fewer problems.
Use technology to your advantage
If you’re working from home then you probably use a lot of tech anyway. You will also be reliant on a good internet connection from one of the satellite internet providers in your area, to ensure that you can work online without any interruptions that buffering may cause. However, it can be a good idea to have some of the things that you use for work, accessible from your phone.
Something like the Google Docs app means that you could open files and documents to read through them, while the dinner is cooking or while you’re feeding your baby. If you have invoices to create or send, then can you do them from your phone with an app or a website? With kids in tow, no matter their age, having a phone handy can be easier than a computer, so definitely something to think about.
Take regular breaks
This might seem a little counterproductive, but taking a lot of breaks can actually help you to work more efficiently. The children know that when you’re having a quick break with them, you can play with them, rest with them, or get snacks. Then they know when you’re back at the desk or the table that it is time for you to work until the next break.
Even something like working for thirty minutes and taking a break for ten, then doing it throughout the day, can help you to cater to the children’s needs, but also make sure that you’re focused on work and being as productive as you can be, as you know you only have thirty minutes to get something done.
Improve work and life balance
Getting work and life balance when you work from home is hard. You can log on at weekends to get up to date with work, as well as logging on after the children are in bed. But if you’re always doing this, and not keeping track of how long you’re doing it, then it can take over your life and not leave you with time for anything else.
Flexible work hours
So one of the first things that you need to do is think about the working hours that you will have. Do you work more productively in the mornings? How about in the evenings? You could set an alarm to get work done before the children are even awake, so that you can focus in peace. If you work quite happily when the children are around and what you do doesn’t require too much precision, then you could carry on working throughout the day.
If you’d rather have a normal day with the children and work in the evenings, then that could work too. Whatever you choose, it is important to stick to it. Check with your employer too, unless you’re self-employed, so they know when you’ll be online and when you won’t be. Many employers are being so flexible, as this time is so unprecedented, so make the most of it if you can.
Benefits of working from home
Another thing that you should talk to your employer about are any benefits that you could get as a result of working from home. Can they provide you with a new printer or computer, if you need them for work? How about a comfortable desk chair? Would physical therapy or massages be available from working at a less than ideal home office environment? Could take its toll on your health?
If you are self-employed, then things can be trickier. However, one place to start is to make sure that you have good health insurance in place. Looking somewhere like TrueCoverage health insurance marketplace to find a quote that works for you could be a good idea, so that you know you’re covered. You don’t want to end up with back and neck problems as a result of working from home, and when you don’t report to an employer, you need to make sure that you’re covered.
Double up duties
There are some aspects of work that can be done when you are doing other things, so that is definitely something to think about and use when you can. For example, when the kids are playing in the yard you could write out a plan for the week, and do things like the grocery list, so that it is written to use later. You could go out for walks with the children, and be on work calls.
They could play at the play park while you type up a document on a laptop (as you would only need to make sure that your laptop is charged, rather than needing an internet connection). If you have a baby, put them in a baby carrier and take a call as you walk around the block, fitting in exercise, getting a baby to sleep, and a wall all done in one. If you have older children, put a movie on for them after lunch, and sit by them as you go through emails. There are a number of opportunities like this that will work, so think what you could do, and then go from there.
Ditch the guilt
The truth is, that no matter what you do, having children and working is something that is busy and tough. Nevermind the fact that your children will be with you the whole time that you are working. So go easy on yourself. Having structure is something that is incredibly important, but one of the key things to making this all go well is knowing that you can’t do it all.
The house may be a little messy for a couple of days, and the meals might be reheated, but if you’re fine, the children are fine, and your workload is fine, then it is all good. Don’t be hard on yourself for not being with or engaging with your baby all of the time. Feeling guilty just wastes time, so just avoid it. It is a desperate time, and it can call for some desperate measures, so remember that this will pass, and then you’ll feel happier about the whole thing.
What are the things that have helped you recently if you work from home with children? It would be good to hear what you think, as we are all in this together.
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