Yes, it IS possible to be a mom working from home without losing your mind.
Because it sounds like such a great idea, right!? “I can totally balance being a mom working from home! The kids will play while I get work done, and then we’ll eat lunch and spend some time at the park. Remote jobs are the future!”
Then reality sets in.
At least, my reality, and I’m assuming yours, as well: the moment my laptop opens, the kids clamber onto my lap to Skype with Grandma. They want to click the mouse. To see what happens when they push the power button. They need my phone. They need a snack. I have to wipe a butt. They start fighting. Crying. Whining. Spilling things.
My attention is divided into 52 places at once, and simple projects that should take 10 minutes wind up taking an hour.
I’ve been a mom working from home since I got pregnant with my daughter in 2013.
Over the years, I’ve tried a number of tactics, all to varying degrees of success, to figure out how to continue to make a living without getting a 9-5 outside of the house.
My mom friends with out-of-the-house jobs occasionally try the mom working from home thing, and often I’ll get a text message from them halfway through the day: “How do you DO THIS!? I’m going crazy over here!”
The short answer is: babysitters. If you’re making a living from home, it’s impossible to get everything done without them, which is the painful truth. My kids go to a babysitter a few days a week for a few hours a day and it is a lifesaver.
But if I’m being honest, I don’t only work when my kids are out of the house. The fact of the matter is, I work when my kids are home, too- I’m just strategic about it.
So with that in mind, here are 7 of my tried-and-true tips for being a mom working at home without losing your freaking mind.
1. Hit the ground running both in the morning and at naptime
Set everything up the night before, the hour before, whatever: just make sure that your laptop is on, the tablet is charged, snacks are accessible, you’re fed and ready to go the second a kid goes to sleep or you’re back at your desk once they’re gone. If I sit down ready to work with a plan, I’m much more productive in that hour than if I sit down to work, THEN figure out a game plan.
2. Batch work so you don’t have to think
This is my favorite tip, and to be honest it took me some time to get my head in the right space. But I do as much of something that I can in one push, at once that i can so i don’t have to concentrate on it again and waste brain space. For example: I have “days” when things get done. Laundry is done on Mondays. Folding laundry is done on Tuesdays. Meal prep is done on Sundays. And so on. That way, I rarely get the panic of, “did I get that thing done!?” If it’s Meal Prep day, it’s getting done.
3. Meal prep with purpose
Make everything grab & go. Lay out your clothes the night before. Make your breakfast and lunch so they’re literally grab and go (overnight oatmeal and smoothie bags are great for this). Keep a bottle of water and sneaky snacks stashed next to your desk.
4. Join the 4am Club (or the 1am Club if you’re a night owl!)
I live and die by this rule and it has changed everything for me. I wake up every day around 4 or 5 am and get to work before my kids wake up. It works because I’m at my best in the morning, sure, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that if I can wake up and have my own time before the kids wake up – as in, if I can get time for me, first thing, before I’m needed by somebody, then I am so better prepared for the day. I’m a better mom. I’m more on top of my crap. I’m also completely useless after 9pm but that’s for another story.
5. Order everything you possibly can.
We are lucky enough to live in NYC, where we can have everything from laundry to prescriptions to wine to pizza delivered right to our door, but you’d be surprised what you can have done even if you’re not in an urban area. Dry cleaners will iron your clothes, so you just have to pick them up. Many grocery stores offer pickup if you call ahead and place an order, if they don’t already offer website ordering. Turn to Task Rabbit, Craigslist, to find someone who can help you lessen the load. It takes a village to raise a family while working from home, girl. Even if you have to pay that village.
6. Use the Pomodoro technique but do it to a Paw Patrol episode.
This is a thing. The Pomodoro Technique is a method of working where you “sprint” for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Coincidentally, 25 minutes is exactly the amount of time of one Paw Patrol episode. Pop the kids in front of the TV, and see how much you can bang out for one episode before refilling your coffee.
7. Give yourself grace
It’s true, mama. You can’t fill someone else’s cup without making sure your own is full first. We can’t be all things to all people and all needs- so you have to make sure you’re fitting in some self-care time. Remember that life moves on, even if we fail at some things. The important part is that we keep going.
However, whether you work out of the home or inside the home, being a working mom is no small feat.
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