Guest article provided by: familieswithgrace.com
How to balance work and motherhood
When I first started my own freelance writing company back in 2003, I didn’t have any children. My husband worked at his employer’s office, and I had my own home office. Distractions were minimal during the day, other than letting our pooch out for bathroom breaks.
But then in 2009, we welcomed our first child and working from home as a mom changed up everything. Suddenly my days were full of nothing but distractions. Even finding time to be in the home office was a challenge.
By the time our second baby was born in 2013, my husband was also working from home and my home office was converted into his. I was displaced and out of sorts. Since then, I have gotten my groove back, so to speak. Now we are in a different home and my husband and I share a home office every day.
Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about working from home as a mom and how to make it go easier. I was able to further implement my strategies during e-learning for one and a half years during the pandemic.
1. Set up a functional workspace.
You don’t have to have a huge or fancy working space at home. If you have a room for a home office, great. If not, work with what you have. Find somewhere that you can call your own and be able to access the things you need for the work you do. For me that means a desk, computer (laptop) and a couple of bookshelves. I’ve also used a filing cabinet at various times.
If your workspace can be dedicated, that’s even better. Try to not use it for other things, but if that isn’t possible, at least set it up to easily convert between the tasks you’re doing. I do use my desk for working on things for my family like paying bills and completing school forms. But, the vast majority of time at my desk is spent for work. It helps me maintain a work mindset when I sit in my office chair at my desk. I am automatically motivated to get on task with what needs to be done.
During our year and a half of virtual schooling, I needed a more mobile office. I couldn’t work at my desk as often because I needed to help my son with his schoolwork. So, I got a paper bin to store my files and notes in that I could transport between the office and the kitchen table. Figure out what sort of set-up works best for you right now and go with it!
2. Be flexible where you work when necessary.
In working from home as a mom, you do have to be flexible with your workspace. While I have a designated workspace now, I still change it up when necessary. During e-learning, I work from the kitchen table alongside my children. When one of my kids is home from school sick, I usually grab my lap desk and set up on the end of the couch where they are.
Once, when my youngest was a crawling baby, I set my laptop up on his changing table, closed his bedroom door and did an interview while standing at the changing table. Be creative to make it happen!
3. Communicate with your family.
Children aren’t so great at taking a hint. Communicating well with your family about what you need while you’re working is important. My children know now that if the French doors leading into the office are closed, they need to knock before entering in case we’re on a call. But, I also do my best to tell my kiddos before my husband or I get on an important call.
And don’t forget to communicate with your family about your work in fun ways as well. I share exciting things and successes in my work with them. This helps them feel included and understand my work a bit. As a mom blogger, I even ask for their input sometimes on topics and projects.
4. Utilize technology for reminders and alarms.
One lesson I’ve certainly learned as a mom is that I never stop being a mom, even when I’m working. Sometimes I’ll be typing away and then remember I need to call about an appointment for one of my kids or fill out a form for a field trip. Instead of stopping my work at that moment, I use my phone to set a reminder or write it on my daily to-do list.
I do the same thing in reverse. If I need to follow up with a client or article source, then I set a reminder to do so to keep from getting distracted and forgetting in the midst of all I have going on.
And I utilize my alarms as well. If I have a phone meeting, I set an alarm for 5 to 10 minutes previous to give myself time to prepare and not miss the call. I also have a daily alarm set for picking up my kids from school. I won’t forget them, but the alarm keeps me from having to constantly check the time.
Two types of prioritizing are important in working from home as a mom. The first is prioritizing your work for what needs to be done. So often my to-do list is longer than the hours I have in the day. I start out my work with tasks that need to be completed soonest and work from there. Then if I get interrupted or something goes sideways, I have at least gotten to what had to be worked on.
The second type of prioritizing is more general. I love my work. I’ve wanted to be a professional writer since I was in third grade, and that’s never changed. However, more than my work, I love my children. I could make more products and write more articles, but I prefer to end my work day when I pick them up from school and spend the afternoon and evening with them. With a child who is 13 and one who is 10, I have already learned how quickly it goes and how little time I have left with them being home. I don’t want to miss it because I’m too busy trying to meet more deadlines than necessary.
6. Give yourself grace.
No matter what you do, you aren’t going to be perfect. I’ve had times when my work suffered because of my mom duties. And I’ve had times when I had to sacrifice some time with my children in order to meet deadlines. Having a perfect balance between work and motherhood is impossible, even though finding the balance that works well for your family is possible.
However, you will have bad moments or days. Give yourself grace to recognize you’re doing the best you can. Learn from the flub-ups, embrace the successes and don’t be so hard on yourself!
Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and blogger. You can find her at https://FamiliesWithGrace.com where she writes about faith and family to encourage parents to create homes filled with grace, love and faith.