Working from Home as a Parent: 7 Candid Survival Tips

All mothers, I believe, are plagued by the constant, gripping paranoia whereby a woman becomes totally, irrationally fearful that she is…

Dun, dun, dun… the worst mom in the world.

Right?  Raise your hand. Have you ever worried about this?

Yeah.  Everyone.  Thanks. That is what I thought,

And, what I have come to realize is that that fear is usually a sign of a good mom.

But, what is a particularly nasty little mind parasite is the work from home mom worry.  All moms think that they are fucking it all up.   But, us wfhm are a special breed and we have developed a bizarre set of skills where we can do both our job and parenting WRONG at the exact same moment.  It takes commitment, but it can be done. 

I am, literally, sitting at my computer typing this while screaming at my kids not to break things and listening for cries from the play room.  I begged them to nap today so I could get work done.  In the end, they didn’t nap and I got very little work done. So, all in one big swoop I sucked on every level.  That takes a special kind of mom suckiness.  Right?

Now, my sons are in my ears begging to use my computer for videos.  And, I am becoming increasingly annoyed with them.

I have done the stay at home mom thing and the working outside of the home thing.  Since my kids have been born I have spent the majority of my time as a mom working from home in some fashion.

Now, my kid’s telling me all about how the Confederate flag is “not nice” (yes.  I teach them that that flag is not an American symbol, or a source of pride.  Deal with it, Bible Belt.) And I am listening to his analysis of the flag as a “bad” and “not American” thing and I am proud of him for having these thoughts but I promised myself I would write some for the site today.

And, technically, I guess I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for telling them to entertain themselves fairly often while I work.  But, I do.  I feel bad.  And, I don’t do my best work when I feel bad.  So, I have to find ways to remind myself that my work is for my kids and for our family.  But, it is also for me.

So, while we all feel these things in varying ways and different degrees all day every day I think that us work from home moms are especially at risk of never ever taking care of ourselves.

Your office is in your home and your home is in your office.  You want to get work done but the floor needs mopping.  You keep meaning to e-mail that guy, but you have to bring the kids outside before they kill each other.  That important skype call is an absolute disaster. And, your sons are both whining and hungry!

Working from home needs to be a choice that you are making as a priority and you can’t allow your professional life to suffer every time the laundry isn’t done.  Most moms are thinking about this stuff every minute anyway. Now, you have all of this stuff in your face.   I am staring at a pile of dirty laundry as I type this.

Because your work and your career do matter, even if it is only to pay the bills, you have to make them a priority. You love your family more than your client and it’s tough to tell a 4 year old you won’t cuddle with him so that you can finish a project.

In addition, your children and family matter immensely. Your home and your pets and your backyard and your hobbies and whatever else all matter. But, you aren’t in and out of the office during your transition back to motherhood every evening. You are just taking each hat on and off every other second and it will drive a person nuts.  It really will.

So, here are a few tips to try and balance these two very important parts of your life while working from the place where your family lives.

  1. Work days and work hours are just that.  If you wouldn’t get up and leave the office for it then you probably don’t need to get up and mess with it when you are working.  If I am at the office, I am not running home to cook some muffins.  Thus, I am not stopping working in order to do that.  When I am working – I am working.
  2. Put on some make-up or do your hair or dab on some perfume or take a shower or brush your teeth or take off your dirty nightgown. I am so incredibly guilty of this.  I am not reprimanding anyone. But, even if you aren’t leaving the house, you should do something to feel more clean, attractive, hygienic or happy.  Just slap on some lipgloss and you will instantly notice a difference. i promise. OK, that may be an exaggeration. But, you get the idea.
  3. You need your own workspace. That’s all.  No excuses.  Get a desk and a chair and some pens and a few file folders. Whatever.  But, you have got to get your own area where you can work.  Period.
  4. You need help.  If you are not getting help because you don’t want it or you push it away, then stop.  If you are asking and not getting help from your spouse, or other appropriate person, then you may need to assess that relationship and the dynamics within it.
  5. Get out of the house once a day, if possible.  I am a freelance writer and I run this site.  I also run a vintage shop.  The vintage shop is my excuse to get out of the house every single day.  And, it is essential to your health and well-being.  It will also give you a chance to talk to some other adults, possibly purchase yourself something small that makes you feel happy, or even grab lunch while you are out. Give yourself a lunch break just like any corporation would give you. You need some Vitamin D and human interaction.
  6. Working exercise into your day is super easy when you work from home. You don’t need to go anywhere to exercise and you can jump up between client calls and other work related stuff.  It will energize you and improve your work. More than likely, at least. This is yet another great way to get you out of the house, even if it is just in the yard or on a walk through the neighborhood.
  7.  If your spouse doesn’t get it and thinks if you work from home that you should also be cooking 5 course meals and cleaning every surface of the house then you need to sit down and explain the challenges associated with working from home.  If daycare is possible for at least a few days a week this could, literally, change your life. Humans need a little freedom from their kids every now and then.

 

Any other work from home parents out there with tips and advice to share?  I can’t wait to read your comments.

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