Working from home as a mom is not for the faint of heart. Toddlers – and spouses – tend to barge through the office doors at any and all times. It adds one more hat to wear and role to balance within the dynamics of your home, and it feels nearly impossible to “leave work at work”. But it also comes with extraordinary benefits. Flexibility, convenience, and more face time with my children and spouse are among my most favorite reasons.
After 2 years as a work-from-home mom, I have tried everything to find some sort of balance.
Tips to crush your goals and not lose your mind as a work-from-home mom:
- Have a dedicated workspace:
When I first started my business, I worked at the kitchen table while my nanny was in the living room with my infant, the patio table in the backyard during nice weather days, and the local coffee shop. It worked, but I always felt like I was lugging around piles of business “stuff” wherever my traveling office went. I soon realized that I needed a place I could call my office, even if it wasn’t its own room. This made staying organized so much easier, which is crucial in reaching your goals. Maybe it’s an actual room in your house, but it doesn’t have to be. My office has had its own room at times, but at others, it’s been a portable table in my bedroom or a small built-in desk in our living room. Wherever it is, big or small, claim some space and try to avoid letting it pile up with bills and personal mail or letting your kids and spouse take it over when you aren’t looking.
- Set clear boundaries:
Setting boundaries with your family while you’re working from home is paramount to your success (and sanity). Without them, you’ll likely find someone standing in the doorway to your office every 3.7 seconds shouting, “Mom!” It’s amazing what you can get done in even one hour of dedicated work time without having to also supervise your children. If you don’t have childcare, this can look like working during naps and after kids go to bed at night, but also making arrangements with your spouse to give you a few hours of dedicated office time on his days off of work. If your office time starts at 9:00 am, then stick to that. One of the benefits of working from home is being able to be flexible, but try to reserve that for things like when you need to ditch work to take your kiddo to the doctor, or you choose to take the day off to go on a special outing with them. But when it’s work time, trust your spouse (or caregivers) and stick to your own boundaries around “office hours.” You (and your work) are worth it!
- Use a block schedule:
I always thought of myself as super organized and a major planner, but even so, working from home is a whole new ballgame. As a work-from-home mom, you’re usually juggling at least five of the following: business/work, infant care, laundry, toddler tantrums, sleep schedules, laundry, feeding schedules, grocery lists (and shopping), meal planning, making school lunches, homework help, making sure you don’t run out of diapers, refereeing sibling feuds, cleaning the house, and did I mention (more) laundry! Setting up a weekly block schedule can be a game-changer and keep you feeling sane and accountable. A block schedule allows you to plan your entire week in hours (or even minutes) where you are committing to tasks X, Y, or Z. While it takes some thought to set up initially, once in place, this is crazy helpful for making sure that you stay on task and can accomplish your lofty goals, even if working part-time, from home.
Bonus tip: don’t forget to include SELF-CARE, whether it’s exercise, Netflix, or a bubble bath, you must include time for yourself if you want to survive (and thrive!) as a work-from-home mom.
- Get Grounded:
Managing all of those roles mentioned above can make someone crazy….simply being a mom can do that, so adding in work-from-home is bound to make you feel a little chaotic at times (if not daily). Spend 2 minutes getting grounded when you begin your workday. You don’t have to be a meditation expert or mindfulness guru. Simply sit up tall in your chair, place your feet firmly on the ground and really feel your body. Feel where your feet touch the ground and your body touches your chair. Feel your hands resting on your lap. Close your eyes. And take 3-5 very slow and deep breaths. Bring your attention to the present moment and clear away the bajillion things you were doing before you came to this moment.
- Use your N.E.T. Time:
I’ve long been a fan of adding some sort of task to something mindless. One of my go-to’s for business inspiration is Jenna Kutcher, so this often includes listening to her Goal Digger podcast while also in the shower, for example. I recently learned she does this too, and she taught me to call it N.E.T. time. N.E.T. stands for “no extra time,” and the idea is that if you can add an enriching or productive task while doing something else, it allows you to do one more thing when you feel like you have no extra time. What can you do while cooking dinner, exercising, taking a shower?
- Plan your top 3:
While you can do a surprising amount of work in even one uninterrupted hour, working from home does tend to lend itself to distraction. Pick your top three tasks for each day. These are things that even if you don’t get anything else done that day, you’ll be happy with your productivity. What must you get done to not be resentful at the end of the day?
Bonus tip: Consider using the Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt. This planner has changed the way I work (for the better). Don’t be intimidated by its size (it’s a hefty sized planner covering one quarter of the year at a time). It is ahhhh-mazing! If working from home, as a mom, sounds like it might make your head explode, I promise this planner will help you keep it all together. You can keep your whole life organized in one place.
What has worked for you while you’ve been home? Share your tips with our readers!