I have been working from home full time for a year now. That is something I never thought I would say. Prior to this journey there were times I thought I would love to be a stay at home mom, but living solely on a teacher’s salary did not allow for that. I’d also thought a bit about working from home part time; maybe with three days in the office and two days at home. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be working 40 hours a week from home, with three toddlers and amidst a global health crisis!
I am blessed to have a great support system nearby, and my mother usually comes to help with the kids three days a week, which is SO helpful. This past year has certainly been and adjustment and had its challenges, but it has also been a gift that allotted me extra time with my children that I’d have never gotten otherwise. Here are some of the lessons (and blessings) I have learned this past year.
Ditch the Typical 8am-5pm Workday
It’s easy to stay focused on work between 8 am and 5 pm when you are in the office and everyone is adhering to the same schedule. But when you are working from home, especially with kids, that schedule won’t fly. Rather than freaking out and stressing about it, just adjust your hours as necessary (while being sure to communicate with your supervisor) and be sure to be flexible. Maybe you start work at 7 or 7:30 a.m. because you know come 8 a.m. you will be knee deep in pancakes and cereal. Or perhaps you extend your work day to 5:30/6 p.m. so you can take a bit of a longer lunch to play outside and get some fresh air with your children. I promise you aren’t the only one going through this. The important thing is that you get your job done to the same caliber you would in the office, but also ensure your kids needs are tended to and that you make yourself available during those unpredictable periods.
Switch Up Your Setting
The beauty of technology today is that you can connect in a variety of settings and take your work almost anywhere with you! Take your laptop to the park and enjoy some fresh air, or set yourself up in your car while your kids are at soccer practice. My favorite place to set up my work last summer was at my parents while my kids went swimming!
Embrace the Chaos
Take time to watch your kids run through their obstacle course, or pull your laptop into their blanket fort. Set them up with messy projects or toys, and try not to worry about the mess. My kids will give me a good hour of semi-uninterrupted time when they have play doh or kinetic slime in their hands. Try not to let the mess stress you out, 1-2 hours of silence is worth the 5 minute clean up, in my opinion!
It Takes a Village
As moms we are often expected to be able to “do it all”. We put so much pressure on ourselves and don’t want to be seen as incapable or naive by other parents. And working from home with kids is no different. So my advice here is to ask for help when you need it, and don’t feel ashamed for accepting it.
As I mentioned earlier; my mother comes three days a week to watch our kids while I work and it is so helpful!! I know other work from home moms that send their kids to day care a couple days a week. It’s OK and I highly recommend it.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter that much if your kids stay in their pajamas all day? Or if they eat 10 snacks while you are on your Zoom call? And thanks to the Magic Eraser, that crayon they used to color on the wall will come off eventually!
Make Time for Memories
If there is one amazing gift that working from home has given me, it’s is more time with my kids. It’s so true what they say, how the days are long but the years are short. Working from home has allowed me to experience so many things with my kids. I get to watch their faces light up as they do a project with grandma. I’m home in time for every dinner. I can watch them ride bikes from the porch and discover new dance moves in the kitchen. They join me on virtual meetings, draw pictures of me working and understand a bit more about what “I do”. My days sure are busy and messy and stressful, but my phone is full of photos, my mind is filled with memories and my heart is bursting with love.
So when faced with the choice or opportunity to work at home; obviously do what is best for you mama. But know that its not as scary as you think, and you will figure it out as you go.