“Mommy is always on the computer!”
“All mommy does is go on the computer!”
The knife goes right into your heart.
The trouble is, I work from home. When Daddy is at work, you can’t see him on the computer. When I’m at work at home you can.
Eight years ago, after my first son was born, I made the decision not to return to my job as project manager at the university. It wasn’t really a hard choice, and luckily, we were able to do it. A year-and-a-half later, our second son was born, so there was no going back to work for me.
I hear a lot of moms say that they are going to quit their jobs and work from home so they can spend more time with their children.
Sure! This is a great idea and what I have been doing for the past 9 years. But, it’s not as glamourous as it might sound. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
For the first few years when my kids were babies, I did a few contract jobs – writing for a newspaper and magazine. I did a lot of volunteer work. I did all of this while my kids were at home and me without daycare. It’s much easier now that my kids are both in school and I have at least 7 hours a day to get some things done! However, it wasn’t always easy.
There were times that my husband and I would argue so much about “who gets the time.” Someone needs to be with the kids and someone needs to be working. Who gets what?
There were times when I would have to conduct interviews in the bathroom with the shower running to block out the noise of my kids screaming outside!
There were times when I had to ask my mom to come over to watch the boys so I could make a phone call.
How To Survive Working From Home
Over these past 9 years, I have received some good advice and discovered some tips on my own, for working at home. This is not to say that I follow them all, all the time!
Ask for help.
Have someone watch your kids or trade babysitting times (even once a week) just so you have a few uninterrupted hours to work, catch up, think straight or check your email. Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be a martyr.
Carve out working times.
When you work from home, it’s always there. People are always emailing, and there is always something to do. Pick times when you will work and when you won’t.
Turn off the “bings.”
My computer would bing every time I had an email or a to-do task come up. I would have to know right then who it was from. Turn off the sound. Shut the lid of the computer.
Make a proper workstation.
For a long time, I worked at the dining room table. Every time we had a big family meal, I had to clean up my work. I also suffered from terrible neck pain from a poor set up. You are important. Make it happen.
Know your limits.
When I first started working from home, I took on more projects then I could realistically handle. Sometimes it takes time to know exactly how much you’ll be able to do. It’s better to take on too little than too much.
Take a break.
One momma told me that she works right up until 30 minutes before the kids arrive off the bus. Then, the last half hour she spends reading a book, having a nap or a cup of tea. This way, she is refreshed and not tired and ready to go again when the kids get home.
You will feel guilty for working. You will feel guilty for being on the computer in front of the kids. You will feel guilty when the kids make comments. You also have the right to have a meaningful work life.
Forget the housework.
For the first few years, I was stressed out looking at my house. Every time I would walk across the room I would see the mess, the dirt, the laundry and everything else that needed to be done, cleaned or cooked. I remind myself that my husband isn’t doing these jobs when he’s at work, so how can I be expected to do them when I’m at work? Hire a cleaner. Do some big cooks and freeze meals ahead of time. Outsource these jobs!
Remind yourself why you are working from home – in my case, it is to be with my kids more often. So, be with them. That’s more important than anything else!
What are your best tips for working from home?