Are you a working at home momma trying to figure this out. OR, have you been working from home for awhile and looking for some extra motivation to keep off of the Netflix app?
The dream of many mothers is work from home. But, not like this. The real dream is: no more lugging the children to the babysitter, no more wondering where that extra cash will come from, no more wondering who will leave their job when the school calls about Billy’s runny nose.
Then, you started working from home and now you are fighting the distractions: the leaky faucet, the laundry that needs changed, and the kids that just can’t seem to get their Zoom meeting started.
You were flexible at first. You accepted a little less productivity to get through the initial chaos. Then it turned into a lifestyle, one that we do not see an end to anytime soon. And…really…do we want to? Showing up to my first meeting of the day in my yoga pants and suit jacket is a real win for me! An extra hour of sleep in the morning because I do not have to do my hair before the kids get ready for school is a mega bonus. You too!?
But, how in the world do I keep my focus when now I see the numbers and earnings plummeting all around me as everything has gotten in the way of the work I am supposed to do?
Here are some of my tips for working from home as a fellow momma who is trying to figure it out with 3 kids and a husband in the house.
- Set a time
First, I really appreciate all those blogs and helpful work-from-home how tos that describe how they can get so much more done after regular business hours when their kids are asleep. But, I meet with actual, live people every day. I can’t ask them to schedule their remote meeting for “after my kids go to sleep.” You too?
Further, I collaborate with other, actual, live people who also need to get their work done and get work from me so that they can do their jobs. I can’t ask them to upend their schedule just because I struggle with childcare and school projects. Sure, they need to be a little flexible, but I have to hold up my end of the deal too.
Therefore, I have a set start and end time. It might be 9-5, or some variation of daytime hours, but I make my hours set, in advance, and reliable. I can’t wander over to my email anytime I want and expect my work product to keep rolling.
2. Set a place
It’s so wonderful that I have a home dedicated office complete with dual screens, a remote conferencing station, and wrap around desk. Unfortunately, my husband has taken over it. As a dual work from home family, we find ourselves often needing to work in the home at the same time. Somehow I was booted out of the office which now stinks of his smelly feet, is covered with his dirty dishes, and has so many wires and controls across it, I do not know whether I will ever see the desk again. He says…”it’s just how he likes it!”
That means, I had to find a place away from the kids where I had enough space to spread out my work without being interrupted. It could be a closet. For me, I landed on the living room game table. A friend of mine has holed up in his basement, another in a bonus room, and many others have made a home office out of the family dining room table. Regardless of the amount of space in your home, work from the same place at the same time everyday.
3. Set a schedule
No, this is not the same as setting a time to work. I mean, schedule your day. If your kids are home and you know that they must be on their calendar meeting at 8am, then you might want to wait to start your day until after their first meeting when they are settled into their work. If you know that your baby will sleep from noon to 2:00, then schedule lunch all together at 11:30 so that you can switch that laundry, tackle the unsolvable math problem, and lay the baby down for a nap. Let the kids and your spouse know that you will be done at a specific time so that they can save their questions, stories, and complaints for then.
Letting the other humans in your house know in advance when they can talk to you will help them to respect the time that you have to invest in your work.
4. Get help.
If you are a working from home momma or a semi-working from home momma like me, then you know that working from home with all the kids and your husband is never going to work alone. At a minimum, ask your spouse or a close family member to spend some time helping with the kids. Even better, hire an in-home tutor or nanny who can occupy the kids and help with homework while you work. If you wouldn’t leave your kids home alone when you go to the office, why would you leave them alone now?
Personally, my time working from home has been a combination of surprisingly productive to surprisingly wasteful. The days that seem to work are the days that I sit down with clear expectations, clear goals, and a little bit of help. The days that fall apart are days when I think that I will do everything by myself in no particular order.
Interestingly, I have learned that working from home is different for fostering client relationships. I lack personal touch and personal connection over a video chat and am interested in how others are handling that. How are you handling client retention and client growth when you can’t actually sit in a room with that client? How are you handling working from home?