Whether you’re doing it by choice, or whether it’s circumstantial, working from home definitely has its perks. It can give you the freedom to work around everyone else’s schedule (if possible), so you can earn an income while still taking care of your family and the home. Sounds like the dream right?
There will be times when the challenges of working at home with kids will make you question whether this is actually the right choice for you (and probably make you question if there is possibly enough coffee in the world to keep you going). Usually, this is when the kids are home from school, during the hours that are normally quiet and peaceful for you, throwing a spanner into your routine.
Don’t let these challenges deter you! We have tips and strategies that will help you still be productive and successful, even if you are dealing with situations where you feel there’s no winning.
Challenge #1 – Summer Break
Regardless of where you are in the world (and therefore when Summer Break falls for you) the challenge of having the kids home all day and out of their normal routine can be enough to send you a wee bit crazy…
Luckily, the summer holiday from school is one that most work at home moms can prepare for. The school calendar will tell you the start and end date, which can help make planning for this time a little easier.
This may mean changing up your schedule in order to work around the kids’ wake times or planning more outings so you can then work when they are back home and napping or having quiet time (hello Disney+!!).
Another option is to get the kids involved! Whether this means handing out around the house tasks, or small tasks that will help with your work or business, it teaches your kids life skills and takes a bit off your plate. Getting them involved can also build their curiosity and inspire them to build their own business or be excited to help you more with yours.
You could also consider hiring a babysitter to come in and supervise your kids for a few hours each week so you can work without distraction. It’s amazing how much work you can get done without having to prepare 823479 snacks every day.
This could be an older teenage family member or someone in your community, or maybe even a grandparent if they can help. Make sure you have a quiet place to get to when help is there, so you can make the most of this precious time, and keep on task.
Challenge #2 – When Kids are Sick
One of the reasons why parents choose to work from home or run their own business is so they can deal with things like sick kids without having to use up the limited sick leave they may have available to them at a ‘normal’ job (if any at all).
There will be times when being a mom will take precedence over your work. Having a sick child at home with you is one of those times. They will need more attention from you during the day, so prepare for your schedule to be a bit shaken up when this occurs (or completely thrown out the window).
Still, you may be able to fit in some work around the illness. Kids need rest when they are sick. Give them lots of love, make sure they are comfortable, and let them nap or watch TV from bed, or even nap on you. You can do some work from your phone, or from your laptop if you need to keep working.
As long as you are flexible and manage your time well, you may still be able to knock out your to-do list even while caring for your sick little one.
Alternatively, if you can take the time away from work, this is always a good option too. Caring for a sick child is exhausting – take the opportunity to rest up yourself to Mama.
Challenge #3 – Bad Weather
As much as a rainy day can be cosy and inviting to snuggle up with your computer and get work done… it also means if you have kids at home, they too will want to be indoors and not running off all that energy outside,
Also, for some weird reason, rainy weather tends to send kids absolutely crazy…
But… this doesn’t mean you have to completely write off the day.
Depending on the age of your children, you may find that you can section off the day where you give them attention and do activities with them, followed by something self directed while you work, can help provide your kids with the attention they need, and also tick things off your to do list.
The flexibility you get as a work at home mom really comes into play on unexpected days such as these. You may have to juggle your responsibilities around, or just reschedule those that can wait. Let the kids play some active games or put on some exercise YouTube videos for them in the morning. That way, you can then get some quiet time with them reading or napping in the afternoon.
Challenge #4 – ‘Always Available’
Not everyone understands that work at home moms still have responsibilities and work that must be done. They may think since you are home, you can watch their children on school holidays or expect that you’ll always be free for an impromptu lunch or a quick shopping trip.
Giving in to these expectations only sets you up to miss deadlines and not get your tasks completed when you need to. Or if it’s your own business that you’re running from home, can completely sabotage your earning potential and make you feel like your business is more of a hobby than the amazing money-making venture it is.
Having the self-discipline to say “no” to these requests will benefit you. Not only will you be able to get your work completed, you won’t feel overwhelmed. If you do wish to have lunch with a friend or family member, work it into your schedule in advance, just as you would if you worked a 9 – 5.
If you’re still getting resistance or feel like you’re offending someone, sit them down and explain the situation. Tell them the hours you typically work. Express you will be unavailable during these times except for an emergency.
Most of your supporters will understand, and be happy to reschedule for a time you aren’t caught up in work. If you treat working from home like a “real job”, your family and friends are more likely to understand your boundaries and respect it as a real job.
Challenge #5 – Flexibiliy
I know right… flexibility is supposed to be a perk of the whole working from home jam… not a challenge… but in all honesty, it can be both.
Flexibility is mentioned a lot, but it really is the name of the game for work at home moms. Being self-employed gives you the freedom to work when you want, which allows for unexpected situations to be handled without as much chaos. A lot of the time, that’s your reason for working at home, too! Just be sure you are taking into account that things happen.
Being understanding with yourself and the unexpected things that happen in life helps a great deal when situations out of your control arise. Be gentle with yourself, and remember that you do have tomorrow. Try not to stress yourself out or burn yourself out by trying to do it all at once.
Another important note to add is that you matter, too. Factor in rest time and self-care time. Be sure to take days off when you need them and take some of those last-minute invites to brunch with friends. Keep your list of priorities in check, and don’t constantly push your stuff to the side to help and care for others. It’s all about balance.
Challenge #6 – No Set Routine
One of the major perks of a 9-5 job is that you can develop a system and routine around those work hours without too much thought or effort. You know the times you’re working, you know when you’re home, and you create your routine accordingly.
When you work from home, that routine is entirely up to you… which can be amazing and overwhelming all at the same time.
This means you need to actually take some time to create your own routine and decide what you want your day to look like.
Success in business and even in your career comes from consistency, and you cannot be consistent without routine. If you’re always working ‘whenever you get a chance’ then you’re doing your business/employer and yourself a disservice.
Routines also help you when it comes to dealing with overwhelm, and can help you navigate many of the other challenges that can pop up.
Challenge #7 – Work Is Always There
This challenge is particularly relevant when you run your own business, because there is always more work to be done. When work is right there, it’s easy to just check your emails and reply, or quickly do that one thing that’s been on your to do list for a few days.
But you have to remember that the reason you wanted to work from home is to be at home, which isn’t possible if you’re always ‘at work’.
There’s no right way to manage this, and it might take you some time to figure out what works best for you.
Some people prefer to set actual work hours and that is their work time, others can set downtime hours where they don’t work at all, such as dinner times, or weekends. Or you may find you prefer to block out family tasks you want to always be present for, such as school drop-offs and pickups, weekend sports, or bedtime stories.
Ask yourself what is important to you and why you started working from home and you might find it easier to figure out the best way to work this for you.
Work at home moms definitely have some challenges to deal with when it comes to schedules and making sure everyone is taken care of. There will be times that take your focus away from your to-do list. Some of these events can be planned for, like school holidays, while others will spring up and test your flexibility and juggling skills.
But being aware of the challenges that can arise means you’ll be more prepared for them when they do, and can help you navigate the work from home life with more confidence and ease.