I have done this dance since day one with my son. While it is both a joy and a blessing, working from home can come with some serious challenges. It’s definitely a balancing act, but some simple practices can go a long way. By simple, I don’t mean easy. I will be the first to admit that I almost never stick to these tips perfectly! Nonetheless, here’s my best pieces of friendly advice:
Set Aside Time JUST for your Baby (or child)
It is EASY or maybe even inevitable to get lots of mom guilt when working from home. Your child almost never has your full attention and that can be difficult. One thing that really helps is knowing you have given your full energy and devotion to your little one during certain points in the day. I shoot for a few periods of about 10-15 minuets during my day where I am solely focused on playing with my son. Now, of course I’m interacting with him all day long, in between work work, house work, and being on my phone, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about time where nothing and I mean nothing else (not even I Phone 6) has any of my attention. I’m not bringing him along in my world, I’m entering into his. I don’t let myself lay down or be lazy either. I give him my full energy and enthusiasm for whatever he’s into at the time.
Let your Kid Be Your Helper
This is more where interacting with your child as you do other things comes into play. My little guy is only 9 months, so older children may actually be able to legitimately help with some of your work tasks. For me, this looks more like taking him on my work errands (babies are a great marketing tool if truth be told), reading my emails/documents out loud to him as I type or proof, or letting him watch me put things together (and of course play with random things in the process). He actually enjoys all of these experiences very much. .
Set Specific Times to Check Email… and phone messages.
You know those days that somehow get away and leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing? I’ve had plenty and often because of the distraction of “urgent” emails and messages. If possible try to check your email just once a day in the late afternoon, an hour or two before you wrap up. For me, I need to be a little more in the know, so I shoot for once in the morning, once around midday, and once before I wrap up. That way I can focus on other tasks and can feel productive and organized in the process.
Accept the Never-ending To-Do List
This is actually a great practice for probably any mom, but especially if you are juggling multiple roles at the same time. Trust me when I say, you will almost never complete everything you want to in a given day for your work or your household. There will be those victorious times, but they are few and far between are really more of a hope than an expectation. There are just not enough hours in the day. Do what you can do and what is truly urgent and leave the rest for tomorrow. It’s ok, I promise!
Try to Ignore Your House
This one is hard!! But, try not to start doing the dishes or picking up “just a few little things” during your time set aside for work. You will inevitably spend more time than intended because homes somehow get more messy as you start cleaning them (I think that’s a physics law or something). Instead focus on work when you’re focused on work and set aside another time for household care. If possible, have an area of your home designated for work to avoid even seeing the endless amount of things that “should” be done around the house.
Turn it off!… And On
In our technological world, it is nearly impossible to disconnect. When your work is stationed at your home, shutting it off for the day is nearly impossible. Do what you need to do to detach yourself so that you can spend that precious time with your family. That being said, the reverse is just as important. Just because (if your Lo lets you) you can sleep later and start work any time, doesn’t mean you should. Get your day started and ended on time so work is just a part of your life instead of consuming it.
Count Your Blessings!
I truly understand the unique struggle that comes from being a working from home working mom! It’s like walking a tight rope that no one can even see you’re on. The balance is difficult and the world has very little understanding or grace. But this role also brings a unique and special blessing. You are able to provide financially for your home while being the one at home with your little guy or gal. That is such a rare and beautiful kind of set up. Be thankful and find joy in that.