Working From Home – A Mom’s Perspective
The following is a post from my lovely wife, Mrs. Frugal Rules. Enjoy…
Hello All! It’s Mrs. Frugal Rules here. I’m grateful and excited to share the stage with John as part of his “Taking the Plunge” series. As a master’s-educated, self-employed mom who loves life, writing, and being with my kids, I hope my ramblings prove useful to other moms working from home.
Working from Home – Don’t I Already Do That?
Many of my friends have the setup I’ve long desired – dad works at a good job that provides enough income for mom to devote her full attention to the needs and schedules of their children. I wanted that because I love being a mom. I would absolutely love to chase butterflies and peer at bugs with our five-year old daughter, three-year old son and ten-month old baby boy all day, every day and not have to be working from home. In reality, no mom has that life – except for maybe independently wealthy ones.
Any stay-at-home moms reading this post will be quick to tell me that they are already working from home – cleaning laundry, preparing meals, doing dishes, playing with, educating and shuttling children to and from school and activities; and I completely agree. So, whether you are a mom working from home for income or a mom working from home as CEO of your house, I know you are busy and your work is not to be undervalued. I just know that many days, I have a unique blend of both working from home and working at home and I am at peace with that.
I am regularly asked how I do it all and my most common answer is “the grace of God” because I believe that’s what it takes to be a mom working from home. Beyond that though, there are practical things I’ve learned to do that help me as I am working from home – like time management; things that keep me from going off the deep end since we’ve made our decision to take the plunge into self-employment and working from home.
The Importance of Time Management
I am NOT a timely person. Words are my forte, not numbers, which may be why I can’t count the number of times my husband has told me that I will probably be late to my own funeral. As a working from home mom however, I’ve learned how critical it is to develop time management skills. Having a schedule does for time what budgeting does for money – it brings freedom. Kids crave structure, especially little ones. They feel secure knowing generally what to expect each day. I’ve learned that effective time management means developing a flexible routine.
I say ‘flexible’ because, as anyone who is self-employed or working from home knows, there is a certain amount of uncertainty and last-minute work that you just have to allow for in your schedule each day. So, my kids and I have a general routine we follow, which varies slightly depending on the day of the week and which sometimes varies if I get a last minute job from one of my advertising agency clients. Within the realm of time management, I have three tips that I’d like to pass along, which I’ve found help me maintain my sanity while working from home in our often hectic lives.
Tip #1 – Don’t Work All Day
When I began working from home, it was as part of a telecommuting arrangement with my former employer. I was salaried and a victim of the traditional 40-hour work week so engrained in corporate America. I was “on the clock” all day. When our first child was young, it wasn’t an issue. As she grew and other children came along, I realized that I could not write effectively with all the kids vying for my attention. So, I now get up two hours before my kids – at the crack of dawn – and write. I am able to get so much more done in the quiet of the early morning than I can when my kids are awake. I will also write when my two young sons are taking naps. My daughter is learning to occupy herself with quiet activities like reading and puzzle-making during this time so that when necessary, I can write then, too. I try to limit my writing time to 4 hours or less a day. The rest of the time, I am there for my kids – teaching, bathing, cooking, cleaning, potty-training, you name it – all the things we moms do every day for our precious little ones.
Tip #2 – Find Balance
Realize that there will be days you have to work more and have less time for your children. Don’t feel like a heathen for letting them watch an educational show for an hour so you can get some work done. When your kids ask you why you can’t play ball with them, try telling them what I tell our daughter – “Mommy and Daddy would rather play with you too but if we don’t work, we don’t eat.” Then ask your child if he/she likes your home, likes to eat yummy food and sleep in a warm bed. Of course, they will say yes, at which point you can gently and lovingly remind them that the work you and your spouse are doing makes those things possible.
Tip #3 – Take Some Time For Yourself
This one’s hard for me because I feel guilty taking what precious time I have that I’m not busy working for myself instead of spending it putting puzzles together, playing ball or going for a walk with our kids. However, I’ve learned that I’m simply a better mother to my children and wife to my husband when I take 30 – 60 minutes a day to do something by myself. When the weather is nice, this takes the form of me going on a run. Sometimes it means me going for a swim at the local YMCA while my kids play in their daycare center. I’m continually amazed at how one hour on my own clears my mind and warms my heart to my children and husband.
I’ve come to the place where I now realize that our family is non-traditional. I embrace the uniqueness of our life and find joy in it because I know that it will develop traits in our children and ourselves that will help us all to be successful in life. Are you a Mom and working from home? How do you make it work for your family?
Photo courtesy of: Tim Barrett