Multi-tasking isn’t great for anyone’s productivity, but as a work from home mom, it’s unavoidable. So how do you make the most of your time so that you are keeping your little one busy and challenged, make that deadline for the blog post you’re writing, and stay sane? These 5 tips have helped me make the most of my day both as an employee and a work from home mom.
To Prepare is Half the Victory
You can’t prepare for everything, but you can try and set yourself up for as much success as possible. This will help you when you come to an unexpected task, meeting or interruption and need to pivot without panicking.
- At the beginning of the week take a look at your schedule and see when you have meetings or times that require your undivided attention. Personally, I like to plan for the week ahead and then refresh my brain on the Monday of the present week.
- When do you have open times in your schedule? Those are great times to give undivided attention to your little(s).
- Choose a day that you know you will be getting out of the house.
- Make supplies handy for your kid so they can learn to be self-sufficient. This does require work upfront. Teach them how to use toys and tools and how to put them away. You will thank yourself later for the time you put in.
- Prioritize household tasks, too. Everything will not get done with you alone. What is the one thing you can do in a day or week that you commit to and then let everything else go? Meals are my one thing. If I don’t know what we are eating, we’re in trouble. However, if the dishes pile up alongside the laundry that’s no biggy (just don’t ask my husband). Set those expectations with yourself and whoever else you are living with.
If Plan A Doesn’t Work, the Alphabet has 25 Other Letters
Yes, plans don’t always work, but it helps you stay sane! Make a game plan and then be flexible when needed. Think about the times that you know you are going to need all hands on deck for work and plan out what activities your little can do.
- If they are the age of napping (the more the better, am I right?!) try and schedule those meetings or tasks when you know your little will be down for the count. My daughter naps from about 1 – 3. That 2-hour window is go time. This time is perfect for meetings with team members, clients or to knock out several items on my task list.
- Do you have open time right before you need to give work your full attention? Fill that time with activities that will wear your kid out OR preview an activity that they could do on their own while you are working.
- Do yourself a favor and plan out any supplies that will help your child do an activity. I like using the Montessori method of making things accessible for my daughter so that she can easily entertain herself and choose what to do.
- Communicate your available hours with your team. Be clear on how they can connect with you, too. Our team uses Slack and I have set the expectation that if my status is set to ‘away’, I will answer messages when I’m back at my computer. Team members can message me, but they know I won’t get back to them until later.
- Use your calendar! If you have a work calendar start blocking time for everything. Going to the library? Put it on there and be sure to include travel time. This is helpful for your teammates and it’s helpful to keep you accountable to your child.
- Use a sitter or childcare that allows you to achieve undivided attention to work. I have an amazing resource near me that is a co-working space specifically for the work from home mom that has childcare onsite! Without momHIVE, I would feel lost. It gives me peace of mind that my daughter is being active and social. Moreover, I get to concentrate fully on work for several hours during the week. Search your community for similar options near you!
Behind Every Successful Woman is a Tribe of Other Successful Women Who Have Her Back.
It is so important to know that you are not alone. There are thousands of women juggling just like you. Every situation is different, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with others to glean tools and ideas to help you!
- Ideas don’t just fall from the sky so follow different Early Childhood accounts on social media and use Pinterest! There are lots of people who love sharing ideas, successes, and failures so take advantage of those. Here are a few examples, but also be sure to see who they are following!
- Find an organization that offers events to get out of the house. I love our library. They offer a specific toddler time that lets me get out of the house and provides entertainment. It’s a weekly event offered on the same day at the same time so it helps provide some routine as well.
- Other organizations that you could check:
- Play groups offered through schools, churches, or colleges
- Local gyms for swim, gymnastics, or play classes
- FIT4MOM – https://fit4mom.com/ is an organization that offers fitness classes for women who are pre and post natal and looking for an outlet for movement and connecting with other women. Plus kids are welcome 🙂 Look for groups meeting near you!
Be Sure When You Step, Step with Care and Great Tact. And remember that Life is a Great Balancing Act.
There is no perfect answer to how to juggle everything, but it means evaluating what creates balance for you! If your mindset is that you can and will get everything done, you will either be incredibly frustrated along the way or you will burn out. Just because you’re a work from home mom doesn’t mean you have to be everything for everyone. Try building in these simple practices into your routines.
- Practice saying no, delegating, and asking others to help. It has taken a lot of practice, but I have now become more comfortable with saying no to different tasks or projects. I say no because I know that if I extend myself I get cranky and frustrated with people around me. I have learned that it doesn’t define my work, but shows my teammates that I have a healthy understanding of my capacity. Take some time to do some self-reflecting and see where and when you need to say no.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to friends, events, and kids too. Look at your schedule and figure out if you can realistically make it to an event without ripping your hair out in the process. If not, maybe you try and make the next event. Your child needs to know that you won’t be able to do everything, but that doesn’t mean you won’t do anything. Invite your child into the decision making process! Give them options to choose from: we can either go to the park in the morning or we can go to the library after a nap. Don’t let them always come up with the choices otherwise, it may never end. Give them options and boundaries, kids NEED these.
- If I agree to a project or task for work I set and communicate the expectation on when things will be done. If someone is depending on what I’m doing to move forward that task jumps to the top of my list. Other items that can be delivered in a couple days or within a week’s time can move down a bit. Make sure to balance out and continually iterate your to-do list. If items that have been on the list for a while, push them to the top to make sure they get done.
- Create transition tasks. This is some kind of task to let your mind and body know you are moving on. My morning transition task is usually breakfast. Once that is done for me and my daughter, it’s work time. To end the day I commit to a time, usually 4pm, and shut my computer and start dinner prep. Those tasks help me shift my body into realizing that I’m letting go of whatever I was doing previously. If there are things that hold you from letting go of work or household items what can you do to remove them?
You Gotta Nourish to Flourish
You have to take care of yourself! If you are not taking the time to fill yourself up how are you expected to take care of your little(s) and your teammates and clients?
- Basic Needs – Eat, Sleep, Hydrate, and Move! These 4 pillars help set you up for success throughout the day and into the weeks and months to be your best self.
- Pick a time that is just for you each day. Whether you get up early and workout or set time in the evening to read, do something that is for you and allows your mind and body to reset. I don’t like getting up in the morning, but I know that it does my mind and body wonders if I make the effort and put in the time to workout and take care of me before everyone else. Plus that extra dose of endorphins makes me a happier person!
- Give yourself grace and positive self-talk. There have been times that I have actually said I’m a bad mom. This is usually in relation to letting my daughter watch a show while I’m in a meeting. But at that moment I stopped myself and said out loud, “No, you are a great mom!” I’m doing my best and learning every day what works and what doesn’t.
You are going to have awesome days and there are going to be days with tears, that’s ok. Keep reminding yourself you are an outstanding human being and nothing lasts forever. Evaluate your situation to optimize your work/home life experience to make sure you’re getting the most out of it! YOU ARE AMAZING!