But you know even that was beautiful. The three of us living daily life and working through its trials together. The beautiful chance to be a fully present mother dealing with times as they came both good and bad.
Today I have reached a crossroad that will challenge my ability to be a fully present mom. Jude is now 9 weeks old and its time to go back to work. "But Katie you work from home for yourself", you say? Yes but I still must "go back". I have to go back to a place where my mind is focused on matters outside of my family and home. I have to go back to finding time to produce (product or blog posts or both). I have to go back to being business focused.
So I have been asking myself how will I do this but also be a fully present mother. It is the question all work at home moms ask themselves and struggle with.
Below I have listed 9 ways to make working at home and balancing motherhood easier. Notice I said easier and not easy. It’s not easy to be a WAHM but it has one huge reward. Being a fully present mom.
Balance means something different to everyone and you need to define what it means to you if you want to achieve it. What does a successful day look like to you? Give yourself an 8am to 6pm work/being a mom day. (Evenings should be devoted to family. If you have the energy to work when the kids are in bed go for it but don’t do it daily or you will get burnt out, not to mention your marriage will suffer. Husbands need your time too.) How much work time and how much “being a mom” time do you want to fit into a day? 80/20? 50/50? 20/80? We all have a ratio that feels just right to us. What is your ratio?
Set Reasonable Daily Goals
Now that you have a ratio determined, how much work can fit into the work time you have allowed yourself? Be sure not to place unreasonable expectations on yourself and end up frustrated. How do you determine how much you can get done in a day? Time yourself. Maybe you design clothes and one dress takes you 1 hour to make, start to finish. You have chosen a 20/80 work/mom ratio day. If you give yourself an 8am to 6pm workday that gives you 2 hours a day or 2 dresses (with no interruptions mind you). If you have days where you can work a full day don’t forget to schedule in breaks and a lunch hour.
Have A Schedule For All Involved
Decide the best time of day for you to work and create a schedule for everyone involved. I have a 2 month old so I start with his schedule first. He takes a long nap in the morning, a short nap in the afternoon and then I get a little time when my husband gets home that I can work if I need to. So I block off 2 hours in the morning and I-2 hours in the afternoon which is flexible depending on nap/quiet alert time. Then I plan a schedule of activities (see Effectively Keep the Kids Busy) during those times to keep my 5 year old busy while I work and I plan something fun we can do together during the time I won’t be working.
Effectively Keep the Kids Busy
My 5 year old starts kindergarten this fall so I still have her home all day with me. She is old enough now to entertain herself but she needs some direction to keep her busy. If I need a block of time to work I give her things to do.
I am sure not to give her anything that lasts more than 30 minutes before moving her on to the next project. Also if she gets antsy or keeps interrupting me I move her on to the next task early. This is so important, you have to work with the attention span of your child. Here are the tasks I work with regularly: Working in her educational workbook for 30 minutes, an art project she can do on her own for 30 minutes, cleaning her room and bathroom for 30 minutes, play with her toys for 30 minutes, watch YouTube video tutorials for 30 minutes (this usually inspire her to go try something new on her own for another 30 minutes, and if I need a little more time I have her watch TV. I love this show on Netflix called Bo on the Go because it encourages her to move and exercise which is a great outlet for built up energy! So I have given myself a good 3-4 hours to get things done.
I read the cutest idea on Parenting.com to wear a tiara when you are on a business call and let your kids know they can’t talk to you when the tiara is on. Silly but effective I bet! However you enforce the rules be sure to make some. When I am typing I ask my daughter not to talk to me. I also ask that every mess she makes, she also cleans it up, that way when I am done working I don’t have more work to do.
Meaningful Daily Connections
How can you make your child feel important to you if you keep sending them away to do something else? Easy! Praise them for a job well done in between tasks. Don’t be too regimented with what they do. Let them pick their own workbook pages, art projects, or chores to do. Sneak in a hug or kiss here or there. Take a popsicle break together. However you decide to connect just be sure that you take several brief moments a day to make eye contact, smile and say something nice.
Take Time to Play
Another way I keep Marlise (my 5 year old) focused on giving me “work time” is to give her something to look forward to. She understands if mommy gets time to work she will get time to do something fun with me later. Simple ideas for daily fun: a swim in the pool, a walk to the park, a water balloon fight, finger painting on the patio, a lunch date, a picnic, a movie, a playdate…
Do yourself a favor and google the following: organized work and living space or organized work space
Then actually pick something you think will work for you and take a couple days to organize. You will thank yourself! Organized spaces make for more effective work time and less time searching for things you need. Organization is key to time management.
Understand that every day will not go as planned. Last week my 2 month old would not let me put him down. He cried a good portion of the day. So I wrote an outline for this blog post on my iPhone as I nursed him and took the rest of the day to be outdoors with the kids which seemed to sooth him. I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to but I fit in what I could. Be gentle with yourself on days like this rather than beating yourself up.