So many moms lately are choosing to try to balance working with the demands of family. Power to you, sister. I know, first-hand, how difficult it can be, whipping up meals and folding laundry when you have a deadline breathing noxious fumes down your neck and a toddler demanding another round of Go Fish.
Complicating this decision for so many of us is the demands for and cost of childcare, and our wishes to be home with our kids. So some of us pick the solution that to some might seem easier: working from home.
It’s easy to see why some (unfamiliar) judgers might think working in the same place you’re rearing is a walk in the park. After all, there’s no commute, and most moms who work from home tend to fit under a freelance title, getting to pick their own hours and locations. They can be there to toast and win the bread. Win-win, right? It’s not that easy. Working from home presents a lot of challenges that being outside of the house doesn’t, and a lot of moms who take this route struggle with that over-used phrase: work-life balance.
I don’t really think such a thing exists – I think working from home and managing a home and family are things that often overwhelm each other, causing us to feel pulled in all directions, and at least some of the time, as if our priorities are skewed. Don’t you? Here’s what’s helped me to claim some sense of order in my family life, while bringing home the veggie bacon, lightly sautéing it and then writing about it later:
- You need a schedule like you need air. Booking the times that you’ll return emails, phone calls, do paperwork and sticking to these times will serve you well. Not only will you find yourself most productive when you’re focused on a single task, but you’ll also lose the affinity for getting lost in your inbox, and having to make up the lost project time later.
- You need to understand (and cope with) when your schedule doesn’t go like clockwork. There’s nothing worse than the stress of a completely inflexible day, when you child comes down with a fever. Even worse is when you’re so focused on the work that you could be doing that you’re not really present for the fevered one. That’s a certifiable lose-lose scenario.
- You need silence. Sure, you might be able to get your report done with your son driving trucks under your chair, but you’ll most likely find you’re the more productive when he’s napping.
- You need childcare because even the most independent child will find a way to interrupt the work-flow at precisely the wrong time. Or you’ll have to take a conference call, or meet a client. You need someone that’s available for these situations, if not for the duration of your workday.
- You need breaks, because ironically, working from home, where it’s silent and comfortable, can actually lead us to work longer, sitting still, without food or water. We get into the zone, us work-at-home moms (sometimes out of necessity due to those deadlines I mentioned), and we forget that people working in a office would be taking lunch and coffee breaks, so we should too.
Tell me, work-at-home moms, what else do you need (besides an ergonomic chair and a 22-year old assistant named Jason with sparkling blue eyes)?