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.
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.
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