As I write this, I am cradling my sick toddler with my left arm while I type with my right hand. On one hand, I am a writer and on the other hand, I am a mom. Literally.
Many moms envy women like me who can simultaneously earn a living and care for their family 24/7. I know how they feel because I used to work in an office and leaving my baby every morning was heart-wrenching. I wanted to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM). Working from home is indeed a blessing, especially for moms of little ones. However, like all jobs, working from home isn’t all roses.
So if you’re a mom thinking of earning a living while taking care of your kids, here are five tips my friends, Martine de Luna and Jean Javier, and I came up for you.
First, an introduction. Jean is the woman behind the organic home brand, Simple Mom. She makes really lovely things in her own kitchen.
Martine, meanwhile, wears many hats. She is a branding coach, a content strategist and copywriter for women-centric operations. She conducts personal branding workshops under her Make It Blissful brand. She also manages two other businesses with her husband.
I’m a writer for print and online publications, I’m currently editorial consultant for Calyxta.com, and I blog professionally at TopazHorizon.com.
Yes, we’re very busy women. It isn’t true that when you work from home, you’re doing nothing. That’s an annoying misconception that you might run into once you set up shop at home. So here are a few tips to help you in case WAHM despair hits.
- See your friends.
When we find the time, the three of us meet at a café to talk about work, family, and womanly concerns. The first con of being a work-at-home mom is there are hardly any other adults around to chat with. So these catch-ups over coffee are really important.
That’s all the cons my friends admit to observing. Jean and Martine truly enjoy being WAHMs. Jean says, “I am a homebody. I enjoy being at home, I enjoy homeschooling my children, I enjoy tending to my garden, and creating with my hands. So it can be said that working from home puts me in my element because it is where I am happiest.”
Martine also enjoys the bliss of home and she adds this other benefit: “I like that I can create my work hours.”
- Hire household help.
I have a harder time with working from home mostly because I don’t have household help. My day starts and ends with me being a mommy and homemaker. So I can only truly work when the kids are asleep, which means I hit the pillow at 3am only to wake up again at 6. (This isn’t very good for my health!)
“I am now of the belief that ‘I can’t afford to do my chores,’” Martine says. “Why? Because trading off work for chores means trading off income-earning hours. So we get our laundry and ironing done outside, so that’s two chores off my list. We get a cleaning lady to come in once or twice a week to deep clean. I don’t need to do much at home except cook, then I just do general maintenance cleaning every day.”
Jean is also grateful to have help. “I have helpers who have been with me since my firstborn was still small and so I delegate the chores, which is a huge load off from time management.”
- Get your family’s cooperation.
Even with household help, if your family keeps barging in on you, there is no way you can get any work done—something that happens to me all the time! So it’s vital you set boundaries. Designate a special area and a certain time for work, and firmly tell your family that they have to respect that time and place.
Martine says, “When I have to work at home, I separate myself from the kids and go to my workspace on the second floor. When they see me at the desk, they know it’s DND [do not disturb] time. Of course, my toddler tends to ignore this rule!”
Jean says it’s also a huge plus if your family supports your work. “My husband does the aspects I cannot, like back-end computer work. He always stops what he’s doing when I ask for help, and he definitely spends time with the kids when I have particularly heavy loads of production work to do.”
Martine also has the support of other family members. “My husband and I reserve two days a week for our new business and we leave the kids for the day at either of the grandparents’ houses.”
- Work somewhere else.
For me, one of the most difficult things about working from home is that it’s my happy place. There are my books and TV shows, the chocolate and cookies, the always enjoyable chats with my husband, and the cuddle time with my kids. Plus, my bed is always tempting me with a nap!
How can anyone work with so many distractions?
Well, work somewhere else! Working from home doesn’t mean you literally have to be inside its walls. I like going to the convenience store of a gas station to work—unlike a coffee shop, patrons here don’t linger so there’s never anyone around!
Martine says, “Now that my kids are bigger, I actually don’t do a lot of work at home. So during the day—especially if I have meetings—I don’t work from home. On days I need to strategize and create for my clients, I work in quiet coffee shops near our home.”
- Remember the reason why you’re working from home.
Working from home isn’t as easy as it looks. Still, there’s a ton of reasons why I love it: I don’t deal with traffic, I don’t need to spend on fancy clothes, I’m the boss, and I get to be with the people I love most in the world! There are days I complain about it but I like how Jean reminds me to focus on the good.
Jean says, “I really believe that it is all about perspective and this is what I know in my heart I want so nothing about it is displeasing to me. At least I try not to have thoughts like that. Because we can all find something [to whine about] and I choose not to. I am so blessed to be able to do what I do in the set up that I have.”
Martine encourages work-at-home moms to remember their purpose. “Be clear on why you want to work from home, because you will go crazy some days and forget why,” she laughs. “Seriously, though, consider your big ‘why’ for wanting to, and that will keep you going on the challenging days.”
Which brings me to today, a challenging day, typing this article with one hand and caring for my poor baby with the other. I’m worried about deadlines but I’m more worried about my boy. And I realize that even though I’m having a hard time juggling today, I am also incredibly lucky that I can be with my kids when they need me most. And that’s why I work from home.