By Maureen Monfore, www.childwisechat.com
Photo credit: ajugglingmom.com
Bethany does a fantastic job describing the joys and perils of working full-time outside the home. I thought it might be helpful to discuss the juggling act that is my life as a work-from-home mom.
If you haven’t read my , I am a happy Babywise (now Childwise) mom of two boys, ages 7.5 and 4.5. Before they were born, I worked full-time in the corporate world as a marketing communications copywriter and project manager. As soon as I got pregnant, I made plans to leave. I had been the primary breadwinner in our home, but my husband was ready and willing to step up to the plate to take on that role. Staying home with babies had been long-time dream of mine, so we both expected this shift to happen.
After my oldest was born, I took a few months off before launching my freelance copywriting business. After sitting on the couch with a colicky, sleep-deprived newborn and then righting those wrongs with Babywise, I was ready to get back to work and start feeling productive.
Fast-forward 7 years, and I am now a part-time freelance copywriter (from home) and a part-time, stay-at-home mom. The very nature of my work (freelance) means that my workflow is not very consistent. The “feast or famine” cycle is alive and well in my home. So my life is very much a juggling act.
There are many lessons that I have learned over the years that enable me to be a good businesswoman as well as a good mom. Consider the following if you find yourself in the same situation:
1) Schedule separate times to work and to interact with children. Don’t attempt to do both at the same time or you won’t do either very well.
2) When you are working, keep your mind on work. When you’re with the kids, keep your mind on the kids. I have tried to multi-task, listening to work-related seminars while playing with my kids at the park. It doesn’t work. Either I don’t retain the information I’m listening to, or I end up neglecting my kids. Not good.
3) Don’t feel guilty for hiring a nanny or leaving the kids with dad. I’ve found that my kids would rather be with a nanny or dad who is dedicated to them than have a mom who is completely distracted by her work.
4) Don’t let work take you away from important events. My workload is always unpredictable which means I often work at night or on the weekends. But I simply won’t allow my work to interfere with important events. For example, I volunteer at school every Wednesday morning without fail, even during my busiest times. Yes, I could be earning money or promoting my business at that time, but the benefits of having a mom in the classroom are just too important. And when my kids see me at school, their eyes light up!
5) Keep a consistent schedule. This isn’t always easy with an unpredictable workload, but there are several parts of our family’s schedule that don’t change, no matter how busy I am. We have dinner as a family every night, I help with homework, we take a walk every day after school, and we have a consistent bedtime routine that includes my husband and me reading to them every night.
6) When behavior problems arise, look to your work schedule to see if it could be the cause. If there’s any chance that you’re neglecting the kids in favor of work, make the change immediately.
7) Schedule some mom time. Balancing work and the kids is no small feat and often leaves me with little free time, but if I don’t schedule time for myself, I will end up being one stressed-out, unhappy mama.
8) Schedule some couple time with your spouse. Many working parents find themselves sharing “kid duty.” This saves childcare money, but it is so important (for the kids) to make your marriage a top priority, so make sure that you don’t become two ships passing in the night. Make time for your spouse. Maybe the traditional “date night” doesn’t work with your schedule. Have breakfast together instead!
The juggling act that is my life is constantly in flux, but these guidelines help me manage it with ease. These guidelines also help me be confident that I can handle any other change that may come our way. For example, I am contemplating homeschooling my boys, and while it would leave less time for work, I know that it will work if I manage my time well and hire a sitter when I need time to work or need some mom time. It won’t be easy, for sure, but I’m starting to see what a great opportunity homeschooling can be that I’m willing to make the sacrifices that it may require.