They say being a mother is like a full-time job, but it’s another story if you have a full-time job and working at home while taking care of the kids and keeping the home. If you are a working mother at home, you may be overwhelmed by your situation.
Trying to balance work with child care can be taxing, as it has its own set of challenges. Yes, there are a lot of advantages – you save on the daily commute, you get more flexibility to do specific tasks around the house in between your workday, and you get to be with your kids all day. But it can be hard to minimize distractions, managing your supervisor or employers’ expectations, and creating a balance between work and family life.
To help you with your set-up, here are some of the best tips for work from home moms:
Set a schedule.
This is the number one tip for working at home with kids: have a schedule. Time management is a skill you have to master. If possible, set your work hours in advance so both you and your family can know when you will be working. Then, make a list of jobs that has to be accomplished in a day.
A tried-and-tested time management technique for work-at-home moms is setting work schedules and other tasks around naptime. Working during your baby’s nap has its advantages, but nap schedules change. Sometimes it’s day-to-day, but there is always time. Make a schedule that allows you to work before they wake up, take a nap, or even after their bedtime.
Have a plan.
Along with scheduling comes planning. Make a detailed plan of what you need to get done every day. Make a specific checklist – seeing the tasks get checked one by one can give you a sense of fulfillment and motivate you to finish more tasks. And while you have a list, stay accountable to it.
Make a separate checklist for different tasks that have multiple steps. This way, if you walk away from the computer to take care of your children, you will know exactly where you left off when you return.
And when making your to-do list, make sure it’s attainable. Don’t try to jam up a lot of tasks every day and try to be Super Woman. Give yourself a little grace. If you want something done within your workweek that needs lots of time to finish, you can divide it up into small tasks a day. For example, if you really need to declutter your closet and you can’t do it on the weekends because you have other stuff planned, try working on a drawer a day.
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Know you and your family.
No time management tip works for everyone because we have different work styles and weaknesses. Some of us may need to learn how to stop procrastinating, while others need to carve out a distraction-free workspace to get anything done. Assessing your at-home-work personality is the first step to correcting your weaknesses. Then, you can develop a set of ground rules at home that can factor in the ages and personality of your children.
Plan activities for your kids.
Plan the most engaging activities for your child, which they can do on their own, during the time when you need to be the most productive.
Arrange activities for your kids that need little supervision. Depending on the age of your child and work schedule, arrange for different activities like games, puzzles, toys, etc., that need minimal adult supervision. You can even allow them to use some trustworthy apps and children’s shows to keep them busy. Then, have some backup activities planned if these things fail to keep them engaged.
To have a lot of things done within the day, it’s a must for moms to multitask. It’s just a fact of life. However, if you don’t multitask the smart way, it can leave you with half-done projects and tasks in a day. Knowing when and how to multitask is the key to getting the best out of your work and home life.
Make the most out of your kids’ sleep.
Learning to be productive while your kids are taking a nap and getting up earlier can make a huge difference. When they are asleep, make it a priority to do your work and household tasks that you cannot do when they ask for your attention. It also helps if you wake up at least two hours earlier than your kids, so you can have a head start for your day.
Use time blocking.
Use time blocking to stay focused solely on one task instead of multitasking the whole day. For a set amount of time, remain on a single work task so you can get it done faster and more efficiently. Then, let yourself multitask for the other things you need to do, especially the little tasks that don’t need much focus. For example, while your baby is taking a two-hour afternoon nap, prioritize doing your job instead of folding the laundry that’s piled up on your couch. While your baby is awake, you can fold while supervising them. Complete short tasks while caring for the kids and save the more demanding tasks during their naptime or bedtime.
Using a bullet journal can help you remember things without keeping it all in your head. It will make it easier for you to plan your day and focus on one thing at a time while you work.
Work in small chunks.
If you have a baby, a toddler, or a preschooler – or all of them together, you’re not going to get uninterrupted time. Children’s attention spans are short, and they would want your attention from time to time. Lower your expectations, so you don’t get frustrated. Accept the fact that you can work on tasks in small chunks only, like aiming for 10-20 minutes at a time, so you won’t feel like you’re getting nowhere.
Sometimes, your kids won’t respect your time blocks, so you can escape to your job whenever you can get them settled into a task. You can sit at the dining table with them while they are playing on something, working on puzzles, doing their preschool homework, and working while keeping an eye.
Plan your meals ahead.
When you are at home, and while your kids are also at home, you probably want to make nice meals for everybody. But you can’t have the luxury of time to make food from scratch and still have enough time to finish your work and be with your kids. Plan your meals and do the prep work like cutting and chopping on the weekend before. Then, make sure they are stored in your fridge or freezer properly so that they won’t spoil throughout the week. When you need to prepare your dishes, you can just mix them all up in the slow cooker or casserole and wait for them to get cooked. Meal prepping and planning can help ensure that you’re not using your productive daytime in doing non-work tasks that need a lot of your energy, which can be better used at your desk.
It also helps to plan to order take-out once a week to give yourself a break from prepping and cooking.
Since you have a job, you must consider sharing your house responsibilities with your spouse and take shifts in watching the kids.
For instance, you can take care of the housework and kids during the morning while your spouse is at work. Then, when your spouse gets home, you can ask them to take care of some stuff like taking the kids to sleep in the evening. Also, you can ask your spouse to be responsible for chores that need to be done outside, like doing grocery shopping and buying supplies for your kids’ projects.
Create a workplace.
Being an at-home mom who takes care of the kids while working needs flexibility. Sometimes, you have to take your laptop to the dining room, living room, kitchen – anywhere you can put your laptop on so you can have an eye on the kids. But even then, make sure you have a place in your house that has a door that can be locked so you can do your job undisturbed. Creating physical boundaries is important while you’re working at home. When you need to focus on a work task or present at a virtual meeting, you need a specific place free of noisy kids and chaos in the background.
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Work with the rhythm of your kids.
Kids are going to distract you – they are not known for being the most considerate creatures! You know your kids, and you know what time they are more out of control and when they might need more supervision. If you work around their energy levels, things will go much smoother.
When you are with them, utilize these hours to make sure you fully connect with them. Include someone on one time for them in your schedule. This way, they won’t feel the need to constantly interrupt you when you are trying to get them to play independently.
Don’t be afraid of screen time.
Some moms may judge you for letting your kids watch TV and exposing them to computer or phone screens early. But let’s be honest – you learned a thing or two that you brought with you as you grow up by watching cartoons as a kid. Don’t be afraid to put on some educational TV for an hour or two a day to keep them entertained when you really need focused work time or if you have an important call. An entertaining, educational TV show will keep the kids sitting quietly and will teach them something. Just make sure you limit this time and give them plenty of things to be busy with, besides TV or gadgets.