There’s no arguing that returning to work after having kids is no easy feat. The balance of work hours, commuting, child care and running a household present more challenges than are necessary for some families, which is why we are seeing a massive rise in work at home mums. Mothers who negotiate with their employers for flexible work hours or mothers who create their own businesses in order to support the family income are increasing exponentially. But, it’s not all fun and games.
While the lure of working from home may conjure up images of relaxing in your pyjamas, watching Netflix and ‘hustling’ on the side, I can assure you this isn’t the way it works. In fact, it takes a lot of discipline and skill to be a successful work at home mum.
Here are some fantastic tips on how you can make it work for your family:
1 – Set Clear Expectations
If you’re going to be working from home, you need to set clear expectations of yourself and of the others in your family. While some spouses are on board with the idea of working from home, the reality of what this looks like can be very different to the expectations.
By having a clear outline of the number of hours you intend to work and when, the amount of work you will be doing and the division of other household chores will not only help avoid conflict but will also help you feel more in control of the whole situation.
This will also allow all the members of your family to have a clear understanding of what their expectations are. This is particularly important if you have older children. And remember, even toddlers can be given a small list of jobs to do on a regular basis too.
2 – Accept That You Can’t Do It All
As much as you may want to be the working mum, the housekeeper, the cook, the run around taxi driver and the person who keeps everything together, you just won’t be able to do it all. And this isn’t a reflection on your abilities – it’s reality. Working from home takes up mental and physical energy that you can’t just ‘add in’. You need to take it from somewhere.
If you try to do everything and try to be everything you will burn out. You need to look after yourself before you can look after everyone else.
Look for things you can delegate or outsource.
Perhaps you need to rejig the balance of house chores so hubby cooks and cleans a bit more. Or perhaps you need to look at hiring a cleaner once a week, or someone to do the ironing or even someone to come in and meal prep and cook once a week for you.
You’d be amazing at how good it feels to get a few of these boring but essential tasks off your plate.
3 – Learn To Deal With Mummy Guilt
It’s going to happen. There’s no doubt about it. We tend to feel guilty over so many things as mothers, especially when we are working (but then we also feel guilty when we aren’t working… so there’s that too).
If you start working from home you might need to look at putting your kids into childcare to help you focus on the time. And that’s absolutely okay.
You might need to let your kids watch a bit more TV than you’d normally be comfortable with in order to get work done. And that’s absolutely okay.
You might need to ask extended family for help and send the kids up to Grandma and Grandad’s for a few hours each week. And that’s absolutely okay.
You might need to do whatever you need to do in order to make this work for your family, and that’s okay.
With your kids seeing you work from home, you are also teaching them valuable lessons in life and work. Focus on the positives and let go of the guilt. It’s too time consuming and takes up way too much energy anyway.
4 – Be Prepared
Preparation is key. Just like when you’re working outside of the home, being prepared and organised can make working from home a much more enjoyable experience.
Create lists in order to keep track and simplify things in your life. Meal plan in advance so you’re not rushing around at 5pm wondering what on earth you’re going to feed the hungry munchkins. Set a schedule for your ‘work hours’ and let everyone know what they are so they are prepared too.
It’s also good to use the night before to prepare for your next day. Simple things like laying out clothes to wear for yourself and for your kids can save so much time and arguing of a morning. Plus getting dressed and organised of a morning helps put you into ‘work’ mode for the day. You’ll be far more productive this way than if you were to stay in your pyjamas all day, trust me.
5 – Take Breaks and Create Space
When you start working from home, it can be easy to allow it to become all consuming. After all, work is always right there. You don’t get the distance from the office that you would normally have if you worked away from home. Which means it’s up to you to create it.
Setting ‘work hours’ can help, but at the very least you should set hours that you don’t work. Hours that you block out for your family and for yourself.
Creating a work space may also help you keep your work under control. This has never been something I’ve been able to do as I change up where I work around the house on a regular basis. However, I know a lot of women who swear by working in their office and then closing the door when they are done for the day.
One of the best things about working from home is that you can choose how it best works for you and for your family. It might take a little while to figure it all out and find your groove, but once you do it can be incredibly rewarding. Using these tips and working out what works for you will help you become a successful work at home mum.