By Suzy Fielders
We hear so much about stay at home moms and working moms but it seems like there’s one big category that often gets overlooked – work at home moms. While I do have a full-time job so would consider myself a working mom, I also own a marketing business with my sister on the side so am a work at home mom during those times. Therefore, I’m always looking for ways to improve on balancing this tough position of working at home with a child so I took to interviewing eight work at home moms I admire to get their valuable insight. I just want to extend another thank you to these amazing ladies for taking the time from their busy schedules to answer my questions!
When asked the biggest challenge of being a work at home mom all but one said something along the lines of balancing work and life. When I saw this I had to smile because this is the same problem for every working person, parents and moms alike. That’s one of the biggest reason there are so many work-life balance/alignment books and coaches. This is something that is a struggle for all. So first find comfort in the fact that you are far from alone in the struggle! Next, here are a few suggestions from a few from professionals in the field.
- Dr. Terry Lyles who is known as the Stress Coach teaches on work-life alignment and talks about utilizing good stress. One thing he recommends is every 90-120 minutes throughout the day take a break to recharge, versus working straight through until the end of the day. For more information and tips visit his website HERE.
- While many people think of webMD as a place to learn about what might be wrong with them when they are sick, it also has valuable information from those in the medical profession. One such resource is this article on five tips for better work-life balance.
- There are also tons of articles from experts available on Huffington Post.
- A final resource is Working Mother Magazine/Website. This page is geared towards moms who work. Plus, this article is a really great read for all moms with some sound life balance advice from Renée Peterson Trudeau, an internationally recognized life balance coach/speaker:
Now being a work at home mom leads to a few at home issues such as: Is it better to have a separate work space at home? Should interruption rules be set, is a structured or loose work schedule best? And what’s the best way to keep kids entertained?
Most of the moms I interviewed did have either an office in their house or a separate area set up. The ones that didn’t mostly said they wished they did. The separate office area was often noted as a great thing. Julie Uhl of Julie Uhl Photography pointed out that it really “helped her transition into work mode and away from the household distractions.” Similarly another mom stated that it makes it easier to “clock out at the end of the night and walk away from the job.” Sandy Harper, who is both a Mary Kay consultant and co-owns the marketing company Across the Horizons, points out a downfall to not having a separate office space is “having to always pick up work at the end of the day then needing to figure out where she left off the next day due to the constant shuffling around.”
Many of the moms interviewed often worked while their kids were at school or sleeping so that cut down on needing to set interruption rules. I also found that those with younger kids mentioned it was a little harder than those with older kids. So if you are a work at home mom with a young child find comfort in the fact that other moms have found it does get easier when the kids get older! For instance one local mom, Katie, said, “My kids are now of the age where they respect when I need to get work done and usually do not interrupt me.”
From the answers given to me it seems like one of the best things about being a work at home mom is they have the flexibility to make their own schedules. Many moms referenced that while they often worked in a set time frame, i.e. while the kids were at school, they still had flexibility to adjust it as needed. For instance, Angie Gardner of PB and J Photography said “being a work at home mom is perfect as I can make my own schedule and still have plenty of time to be a full-time mom with busy children.” Similarly, Melanie Fadely, a health and fitness coach, mentioned the benefits of being able to “fit in play dates and dance classes in her work schedule.”
For those times when the kids are home and work must be done, moms get creative with entertaining their little ones. Megan Gioeli of M. Gioeli Photography mentioned, “Putting different toys away and pulling them out when they get bored is a good trick. Also, in the Spring/Summer months I let them play outside while I work out there.” Nature does make an awesome office space! Natalie Mansson, a fitness and nutrition coach, also agrees that letting the kids play outside is great for all.
These moms gave some awesome tips and advice for other work at home moms!
Julie – Get out of the house. When you live and work in the same space, you can get kind of lonely. We like to go out to the park or meet friends/family for lunch once a week. Even if you’re just running errands or grabbing a drink at Starbucks, you’ll be so much more productive (and sane)!
Melanie – Have daily goals and don’t get distracted from them by things like Facebook. Put 100% into the time you’ve given yourself to work.
Megan – Plan breaks throughout the day with your kids. Don’t miss out on spending this time with them. It is an advantage of being a work at home mom – even if it is just 10 minutes every day.
Natalie – Follow your passion. Don’t let others tell you it cannot be done.
Angie – Always reward your children for allowing you to work in peace with a big thank you or some small treat.
Katie – Take time for yourself. Schedule time to go for a walk, run or trip to the gym. Take a break and go shopping. Watch a TV show or the news, read a book for 30 minutes or play a round of Words with Friends (my guilty obsession!).
Sandy – Don’t be so hard on yourself. It is tough juggling two jobs at once. Plus, if your kids are like mine, they’re the toughest little bosses around!
The advice I would provide from my work at home mom time would be get and STAY organized. If you waste a lot of time trying to track things down it cuts into your work time and decreases productivity & often morale as well. Even if you don’t have a separate office space you can still have your computer files and what paperwork you do have in an organized fashion. There are many ways to get organized and have a system so do what works for you, just be sure to stick with it once you set it!
Do you advice of your own to share? Leave a comment below!