Whether you are working part-time or full-time with kids home, it can be challenging. You are constantly feeling pulled in many directions between your kids, your job, spouse and housework. It may not be easy but here are some tips to help when you are a work at home mom.
Being a work at home parent can be quite the blessing and there are lots of wonderful sides to it. You can often have more opportunities to be with your children and be more involved in their lives. You also don’t have to commute to your workplace. It can be nice to get dinner prepped and then get some last-minute work done. There are also plenty of downsides to it. It can be a lot to juggle, especially if you have young children that are not in school. You might always feel like you are disappointing someone because you are trying to do everything for everyone.
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The best thing you can do for yourself and for your family is to try to be prepared. The night before a workday, prepare as much as you can. Get snacks ready for the kids, lunches, activities and more. Put a container of pre-portioned snacks in the cupboard and in the fridge. If the kids are going to school in the morning, then have clothes laid out and lunches made. Get your coffee ready and maybe even shower the night before.
The less you have to think about in the morning and all day while you are working, the better. As a work at home mom, there will be plenty of road bumps throughout the day. Try to eliminate as many as you can ahead of time. Try not to fall into the temptation of giving into laziness because you are tired. Get it all done and then rest. If you sit down before everything is done, it’s a lot harder to get back up.
Make sure you have a good working area for yourself. This can definitely look different depending on your situation. If you are able to work in an office and not have to keep a super close eye on the kids, then that is ideal for working. Your set-up might be a laptop on the kitchen table because you need everything within reaching distance. No matter what you choose or have to work with, get it all ready before you start working for the day. Have your computer, charger, mouse, headphones, glasses, and coffee all nearby.
One step ahead
Before your kids start melting down and saying they are bored, be ready for the next activity. These tips are also great for stay at home moms. I keep an area of a bedroom with activities and toys ready to go so I can just grab and go. When I bring something out, the kids will play with it and then it gets put away before something else comes out. I also keep a variety of tubs of toys out in the garage so we can cycle through them. Sometimes I will put out toys that the kids haven’t seen in 6-8 months and it’s suddenly exciting again. When my kids get presents for birthdays and Christmas I will often put some of them up in a cupboard and pull them out here and there. They often forget they even received them so it’s like a brand new present.
Depending on the ages of your kids, here are some activities that have worked well for my kids, ages 2-5.
- Coloring Books
- Kids Activity Books
- Magformer tiles
- Magnetic Doodle board
- Cardboard Playhouse
- Peanut Butter Play-Doh
- Doctor play kit
- Kitchen Set
Here are some great outdoor activities and toys if the weather is nice. We love the pogo jumper!
If your kids are anything like mine, they eat like 20 snacks a day. Have some snacks ready to go (especially healthy snacks) so that you don’t have to take the extra 5-10 minutes to prepare them while you are trying to work. In your pantry, you can have a container of pre-portioned dry goods snacks. In the fridge, you can have one for fruits and vegetables.
If your kids are old enough to have self-control, you can leave snacks out on the counter. A tip that has worked for me, is to set expectations with my kids. After their afternoon room time, I tell them which activities they can do when they come down and there are snacks on the counter waiting. This way, if I am on a conference call they won’t run up to me asking for snacks and what they can do. I definitely learned this lesson the hard way.
Here are some snack ideas for the kids:
- Vegetables- Cucumbers either sliced longways or in circles, carrots, red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, jicama, or celery.
- Fruit- Apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe, watermelon, pears, apricots, sliced peaches or nectarines.
- Dairy- String cheese or yogurt
- Pantry snacks- Raisins, Pretzels, fishy crackers, apple sauce, granola bars or fruit snacks.
Being a work at home mom means that you will be juggling a lot. Make sure to set realistic expectations for yourself. If your kids are home while you are working, plan your work around when you think your kids will listen the best. Try to save your more focused work for when the kids are napping or having room time. If your kids are doing an activity that will keep them busy for a while then try to work on a bigger project. Know that you will get interrupted plenty. It’s best to work in little spurts rather than trying to get big chunks done at a time. If your kids are at school in the morning but home in the afternoon then try to get the hard stuff done in the morning.
Do your best not to rely on getting work done after the kids go to bed at night if you can help it. You will be tired at this point and should be using that time to prepare for the next day. By shifting work back, it will shift other things back and you will fall behind.
It is very easy to get stressed out and be grumpy. I suddenly turned into a work from home mom with 3 kids at home when the Coronvirus hit California. I realized very quickly that this was not a walk in the park and I needed a plan. There were definitely days that I snapped at the kids and wanted to pull my hair out. I also saw very quickly how the kids would feed off of my attitude and energy. Instead of starting the day feeling sluggish and tired, I would choose to be happy. I said good morning with a smile and got them excited about activities for the day. Your attitude can make a huge difference for yourself and your family.
OptimizedLife.com has great tips on How to Prevent Cabin Fever when you are home all of the time.
When you are a work at home mom you are constantly trying to take care of everyone. You take care of your kids, your co-workers, boss, spouse, and even pets. You need to also plan time for yourself. This is not a time to catch up on laundry or cleaning. This is doing something that lets the stress melt off and for you to enjoy some you-time. Here are some ideas of how you can take some time for yourself every day.
- Go for a walk outside (or any exercise)
- Go to the grocery store by yourself
- Take a bubble bath
- Have some alone TV time to watch whatever you want
- Read a book
- Write in your journal
- Go get a pedicure
- Have lunch or coffee with a friend
- Work on a puzzle
- Spend time on a hobby that you enjoy
Stephanie from RuralRuby.com goes through all the reasons you Should Care about Self Care.
Oh, quiet time. How I love thee. Room time for kids in our house means either napping, laying in your bed or playing quietly in your room. It lasts for at least an hour. For the kids that don’t nap anymore, I tell them what is expected of them and when they can come out of their room. My oldest son (10 years old) will usually just read in his bed or play legos. It is a great way for kids to be calm and let their minds relax. Somedays they surprise me and all take a nap. During this time I will often make myself a cup of tea, have a little snack and then focus on my work. This is my favorite hour of the day. We even do this on weekends because it is a good habit and gives me a little time to recuperate.
Ask for help
Don’t put all the pressure on yourself to do everything. Ask for help where you can. Can your spouse help with cooking, cleaning, watching the kids? Can your kids help with cleaning? Maybe you have parents that can come help here or there? Maybe you have a friend that could help with carpooling a few days a week? Ask for help so you don’t overwhelm yourself. At the end of the day, you can even offer your kids a reward to clean up all the toys they have strewn about the house. It works best when it’s a special treat that they don’t normally get to have. They clean a lot faster and with fewer tears when they are motivated.