All of my life, I dreamed of being a mom. I couldn’t wait to have my first baby. When my oldest was born, I loved every minute of being a mom. I used the Family Leave Act to stay home with him for four months. I tried to negotiate working from home with my boss, but that idea didn’t go over well.
I arranged day care with a friend who lived in the same town but it was still tough to leave my baby and walk out the door to go to work. Nothing about the process felt right. I wanted to be home with my baby. I wanted to be the one responding to every cry and seeing every smile.
I thought it would become easier over time, but it only became harder and harder each day. I couldn’t focus at work because I spent so much time pumping milk and just thinking about my baby.
One morning, I couldn’t do it anymore.
“I don’t care if I have to live in a tent, I want to stay home with our kid,” I told my husband. We were both scared of the unknown ahead of us, but we agreed to do whatever we had to do to make it work.
So I gave my two-week notice and quit.
For 15 years, I worked part-time both in and out of the home. It was definitely a juggle to work from home while parenting three kids (four when my niece joined our family) but along the way, I learned what worked to make the whole process easier. Here are some tips:
Be Clear on Your Work Hours
When you work from home, it’s all too easy to blend your work and home life together. The problem with this–your family doesn’t know when you’re working and when you are not. Be clear on your work time with your family and communicate it. Over time, I found it easier to just wake up before everyone else and do my work early in the morning. This freed up time during the day to be with my kids.
Set a Work Space
I’m fortunate to have an office in our current house–something I didn’t have in our previous house–but in any case, you will need to set aside some work space that the family respects. Keep your kids out of this space if possible.
I can’t tell you how many times I dropped the ball on this one and failed to tell my family about an upcoming meeting or phone interview. Many times it would clash with a kid who needed to be at a party or sports event. What worked for us was a big family calendar parked in the hallway where everyone could see it.
Ask for Help
I was fortunate to bond with two other moms who worked from home. When our kids were young, we took turns watching each other’s kids so we could get some work time in or a break to run errands.
As my kids became older, it was easier because they could do more things for themselves and even pitch in to help. I had my kids help with mailings and other tasks. Teach your kids to be as independent as possible from a young age. By the age of ten, my kids were doing their own laundry and could make a meal. We also cleaned together–I found I could get a lot done with all of us pitching in at the same time.
You don’t need to be SuperParent while being SuperWorker when working from home. Figure out what really matters. You’re working from home so you can have precious time with your kid/s. Take time to have fun together. The dust can wait.