Can I be honest for a moment? Attempting to get any work done with my kids home with me this summer has been about as easy as trying to get a microwave to work with the door still open.
But I know many of my readers want to know what my “secret” is to getting anything accomplished with three little kids at home all day long. The truth…. I don’t have a secret and most days I feel like a crazy lady but I do have a few pointers for those looking to make this whole “work from home mom” thing work.
I know this is obvious, but YES, you do need a schedule or at least a routine for how your day is going to go. And yes, I know that with little kids your schedule is going to get interrupted a hundred times or more but having a routine in place for the daily ins and outs of your life will make everything so much easier!
I suggest you start by waking up before your family. I know my friend Kim of Thrifty Little Mom, thought I was a lunatic because even while we were away together at a conference, I still got up every morning at 5am to read my Bible and to get my day going. It’s the only way that I can keep things going because no, I’m not a morning person, but allowing myself time to “wake up” before I have to interact with people is a blessing for everyone around me…trust me.
The next thing I suggest you do is to create “margin time” in your day of at least two hours. These are two hours a day that you don’t have anything scheduled to do, because interruptions will happen throughout the course of your day and if you don’t allow for margin room in your schedule you’ll just burn out at the first hiccup in your day.
Then I suggest you make time for your kids. I like to do “schoolwork” with my kids for at least 30 minutes to an hour a day. They enjoy getting to learn and I enjoy watching them grow. And since I’m not glued to my laptop or focused on my phone during that time, they get to have mommy all to themselves and that really helps to “fill up their love tank” as my 4 year old calls it.
And the last thing I suggest is to be flexible on where you work. If you have older kids, take them to the library and let them read, do schoolwork, or participate in story time while you work. You can even take them to the park while you read that business book you’ve been meaning to finish. You could even just take them out in the front yard while you work from your laptop.
Set Your Priorities
Setting an effective schedule isn’t going to do you very much good if you don’t have your priorities in order. So, before you start writing down your schedule for the day, figure out what your priorities are. (And if you’ve never read the book, Tell Your Time, I highly encourage you to – it’s great for figuring out how to well, figure out your priorities.)
I suggest you write out your schedule the night before because I know that if I don’t get it out of my head before bed then it’ll keep me up at night. Create a quick list of the things you want to accomplish tomorrow like:
- Friday’s blog post.
- Order proof copy of book.
- Email Erin back.
- Check in with Mastermind Group (make sure I’ve gone over what goals I’ve completed before hand so I’m ready for the call at 1pm).
- Text Natalie about meeting up for coffee.
- Make this month’s budget.
Okay, so now you’ll have to go through this list and figure out what your priorities are. I like to pick no more than three priorities per day so I don’t overwhelm myself. So for me, I’d take from this list as priorities:
- Friday’s blog post.
- Check in with Mastermind Group
- Make this month’s budget.
Those would be the three things that I would definitely want to and plan to accomplish for tomorrow. Everything else would just be things that if I can get them done, great but if not, that’s okay.
Then I would just transfer this to my planner (I’m currently in love with this planner from iBloom!) and then I would forget about it until tomorrow.
Keep ‘Em Busy
Okay, so if you’re currently in the throes of summer like we are right now, you know that kids seem to get bored at the drop of a hat and immediately come running to you to entertain them or to the kitchen cabinets to satisfy their never-ending hunger.
This can quickly create chaos as you attempt to get anything accomplished which is why I suggest that you have something planned for each week that your kids can take part in that is outside of the home. Now, this doesn’t have to cost money as there are several things that you can take your kids to go do that are fun and free (for a few ideas, visit this post).
But, you’ll want to make sure they are out of the house. I know that my kids behave so much better once they’ve been able to get out of the house and go do something fun. Right now, our oldest is in swim lessons twice a week and my best friend and I have been keep a regular playdate on the calendar. Our playdates consist of things like bowling (visit this site here to see if there’s a bowling alley near you that offers kids free bowling), $1.50 movies at the theater, swimming in her neighborhood pool, the park, and the various events at the library.
Once again, these don’t have to expensive things but by having at least one day a week dedicated to something outside the house for your kids to do can have an amazing impact on the way they behave the rest of week. Or at least that’s been my experience.
Make Yourself Available
Okay, so I know that most time management gurus suggest having a home office in order to do your work and yes, I think that a home office is an amazing blessing, but let’s get real folks. Your kids don’t care that there’s a door separating you from them – they’ll just beat on the dang thing until you emerge.
Since we don’t have a place in our home for a home office I’ve struggled like crazy with this idea of time management because I was literally working everywhere in my house. This was causing all sorts of disorganization for me and a ton of stress.
That’s when we decided to move my desk from the basement (the kids’ playroom area and laundry room) to the living room. Yes, I’m in the middle of the chaos and it can be challenging at times but it’s better than working from the kitchen table and having to move everything come dinner time and it allows me to be available to my kids without seeming unavailable.
And guess what? They most of the time, leave me alone to work, but that’s only because:
- They know that when I’m at my desk that means “mommy is working”.
- I have a schedule in place and I communicate that schedule with them. This way they know what to expect and when they can expect that mommy is done working.
This isn’t a perfect system by any means but it works for me.
Okay, so there you have it. My imperfect way to attempt to find balance as a SAHM who also happens to work from home. I hope that this will help you if you’re struggling in this area, but know that there’s literally no perfect formula for this.
What advice can you offer a fellow blogger attempting to balance work and home life?
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