Mom’s The Word: Stay At Home, Work At Home

6928299842_25e87ed540_b

6928299842_25e87ed540_b

Let’s be honest: no one wants to hear anyone complain about working from home. Rightfully so, for it can be an incredibly blessed life to live. We get to wear pajamas all day, set our own schedule, and switch the laundry in between e-mails … right? True, but even though it’s a lovely life, there is definitely an art to making it work. Throw a baby in the mix and it gets even more interesting (and of course, much better).

For me, working from home means that it can be really difficult to separate personal life from business life. It’s hard for me to stay focused, keep myself presentable and not feel like the walls are occasionally closing in on me. Before I had my baby boy, Bear, I had figured out how to work from home with a mission. I had a great ebb and flow to my day and everything seemed figured out. However, about five months ago big things changed and though there was some adjustment time, I’m happy to report that I’ve now found that beautiful balance between working from home and being a mother.

I want to acknowledge that I know every baby, mother and work schedule is different. I also know that I could use a lot of advice from those of you mothers with two year olds. These are just a few things that I’ve found to be helpful so far in my motherhood journey, and I’m sure it will change with time as my son gets older. Either way, I hope that everyone working from home (baby or not) can take away a few new ideas. 

Get ready in the morning.

It’s scary how incredibly easy it is to catch myself late in the day with pajamas on, messy hair and unbrushed teeth. Of course, I’m not recommending everyone look glamorous 24/7, but a good rule of thumb is to not be embarrassed if a neighbor or the mail carrier knocks on the door at 10:00 in the morning. My specialty is comfortable, classy ‘in-between’ clothes like stretchy pants, yoga clothes or pretty knits — things that are comfortable enough to sit in at the computer all day, yet styled enough to run to the grocery store. The second grooming rule is to not sit down at the your desk until you’ve showered, brushed your teeth and gotten dressed for the day. It sounds silly, but it makes for a much more productive day.

Separate your work life from your personal life.

Though this may be impossible to do with a little one, you can (and should) separate work time from time spent on house chores and the like. I’ve found that when working from home, it’s easy to get caught up in the household errands, little projects and chatting on the phone. Often times, people don’t really understand why you’re not available for lunch dates, phone chats and swing by visits when you’re at home. Be up front and strict about your work hours (whatever they may be) and try to work when you’ve set aside the time to.

Get out.

Though working from home is indeed a huge blessing, cabin fever can still creep up on you. I’ve stayed at home for four days in a row before finally having to just get out! Go for a walk, to the store or out for dinner. Whatever refreshes your spirt and renews your mind, incorporate into little breaks during the week.

Toss the schedule.

One of the biggest things that helped my schedule when my baby came along was to throw the it out the window. Days and nights became blurred for a while and my entire daytime routine changed. Instead of trying to maintain control, I decided just to let it go. I encourage you to also go with the flow. If you were up all night and need to stay in bed till noon, do it. Rather than force a schedule every day, be flexible with whatever is happening with your baby, especially in the beginning. In the end, you’ll get more accomplished and you’ll feel much better about doing so.

Plan ahead.

One thing that will be especially helpful in maintaining a more flexible schedule is to plan ahead as much as you are able. Not all work situations allow for this, but if you can schedule blog posts, design work or writings in advance, it will give you the wiggle room you need to stay flexible during the week with a baby.

Keep your baby close.

Early on if my baby was awake, I’d still try to squeeze in some email answering and social media posting. I quickly stopped — it wasn’t fun for either of us. Instead, if he’s awake now I try to be present with him as much as possible. I refuse to stare at a computer, instead I’m holding him, playing with and making him laugh.

Keeping him close can actually enable me to get more done. He naps right beside my work area (or in my lap) and when he’s awake, I strap him on and wear him around the house. Wakeful hours are when I do household chores, prep for dinner, fold the laundry and of course, be present with him. Wearing him keeps us both happy, and my time very productive.

Ask for help.

Though this won’t be an option for everyone, if help is available to you don’t hesitate to ask for it. Mondays are the best day of the week because my mom comes over to help out for the day. As she watches my baby, I get a full day’s worth of work in and often get my entire week planned and scheduled in advance.

Whatever your situation, I hope these tips will help you have a happy and productive life at home with both your business and your baby. It takes great discipline to be a successful stay at home working mom, but how glorious it is to work with a babe at your side!

Are you a mother who works from home? What helps you maintain balance in working and mothering?

Image courtesy of Bonnie Forkner

Bonnie Christine authors Going Home to Roost - the blog dedicated to everything handmade and anything homegrown. She also works as a surface pattern designer, loves to cook and is mother hen of the Roost Tribe, a community for creatives.

12 COMMENTS
  • Bedriye August 19, 2015

    Great hammer of Thor, that is powfleurly helpful!

  • Allyson March 22, 2014

    Ummmm where have you been all my life?! Thank you Pinterest for putting you on my path! Great site!!!!!! Carry on chica, carry on.

  • Sareh February 10, 2014

    Great advice : ) Your words about baby wearing bring my back to the first several months with my first daughter. I’m a photographer and I edited thousands, (more or less), of pictures with a rosy cheeked baby asleep in my lap or on my chest. It was divine. I now have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. The challenge is just starting to lessen as the girls are starting to take their afternoon rest at the same time and will even play quietly together for a half hour or more. I definitely need to plan my weeks out ahead of time more. My biggest challenge are the stretches of days when my baby girl isn’t sleeping well. I have to decide between extra working time and much needed sleep. Sleep wins a lot! But I know this time will pass, we will all sleep well again and I’ll be able to work more.

  • Elizabeth February 6, 2014

    I am a working mom trying to figure out how to work from home for more balance and hopefully less stress. Currently I am a teacher and am very passionate about my job. I would love to end up back in a classroom at some point in my career. But at this point in my family life, I feel as if I need to be home. My question to you all is what jobs or careers do you have? I am exploring many avenues now so I would love to get some insight. Thank you!

  • anthea February 6, 2014

    I’m feeling a bit helpless at present (with my 7 month old). I ADORE being with her but get literally zero work done in the day as try as I may, her nap times are literally all over the place. Oh to have a scheduled nap-time – sigh.

    Hoping this becomes regular and I’ll have time in the day, but at the moment I only manage work when little has gone to sleep at night… which is amazing work time, but means I don’t sleep enough.

    A very tired thea, who enjoyed your article very much 😉

  • Abby Laub February 4, 2014

    I really enjoyed this article! I basically squeeze in a full time workload into a part time work day, with only about 15-20 hours a week of childcare.

    >A few things that go a long, long, long way for me as a full time working stay at home mommy:
    1. My gym membership (which also is free because I teach a few classes at the gym) includes a wonderful playroom for kiddos. So I sneak in an hour workout and an hour of work on my laptop while my tot is happily playing with her peers and having her snack….all while I’m still in the building!
    2. I conduct a lot of business phone calls while walking my daughter in her jogging stroller around our neighborhood. Bonus: extra exercise which also boosts my brain power and energy!!
    3. When I am disciplined enough to go to bed early, getting up early and sneaking in a very focused, quiet hour or two of work time is like the equivalent of three or four hours of time later in the afternoon when I’m tired out!
    4. I agree with Bonnie – when my daughter is awake is when I get most of the housework and cooking done. She is getting to the age where she loves to “help” and can play a little more independently on her own alongside me while I work. And laundry basket rides are the best! 🙂

    Thanks again for a great article!

  • Robin @ The Balanced Life February 4, 2014

    Hi Bonnie! Great post. Thank you so much for sharing your tips. I work from home also and have an 8 month old with me all day 🙂
    In her earlier months it was a lot easier to work and keep the day structured. Now that she’s crawling and climbing all over the place I’m facing new challenges.
    I completely agree with the shower/getting dressed tip. And also finding ways to get out!

    I know that every mother approaches schedules differently but as a work-at-home mom I have found that getting my daughter on a consistent nap routine is imperative. That way I can count on her consistent naps to get my work done, and then focus on her while she is awake.

    Thanks again for sharing! Great post.
    xo
    Robin

    • bonnie February 4, 2014

      hi robin! oh, how fun! i can’t wait to see how things change as time goes a long. 🙂 and thank you for the advice, i agree, a routine nap schedule is a must! 🙂

      xox, bonnie

  • Mary Martin February 4, 2014

    Bonnie, thank you for a thoughtful and practical approach to the balancing act that is being a work-from-home mom. I would love to get regular updates from you as your little one grows! It seems every few months brings a new transition and change to my work/mom routine (my two-year-old doesn’t seem to understand the demands of my email inbox yet!) and it would be nice to be reminded that I am not alone in the challenge. 🙂

    • bonnie February 4, 2014

      hi mary! oh, what a great idea! maybe i’ll have to update this every 6 months or so. 🙂

  • Teresa Peterson February 4, 2014

    Such a helpful article to read! As a work from home consultant and mom-to-be, I am already trying to figure out how to balance them both. Thank you for sharing, always great to read about successful work from home moms!

    Teresa

    • bonnie February 4, 2014

      so glad you enjoyed it, teresa! you’ll have so much fun working at home with babe by your side! xox, bonnie

POST A COMMENT