The balancing act of a work from home mum
As you all know I got made redundant in April 2020, so I decided to start my business and work from home. It was a no brainer for me as I have a 4 year old and no childcare, were in the midst of a pandemic, I needed to have something for “me” and I wanted to continue to serve as a personal stylist.
So many of us have found ourselves in this situation and I haven’t been doing it for long but here is what I have discovered so far.
Your ”Why” will keep you focused
If you have made a personal choice to work from home, why did you choose this path? For me I felt I would get the perfect work/life balance I desired and save hours of commuting and I could work around my son’s school hours. However, as a small business owner, you are doing everything on your own and learning new skills constantly and looking after your child/ren as well. My partner also works from home and has lot of conference calls, so It is definitely not as smooth running as I thought it was going to be. My best advice is establish a routine. There is simply no other way around it. My son Is at school now so I carve out blocks of time to do my work around other errands, he is in bed by 7:15 and then I get more work done. I do bedtimes Mon-Wed, my other half does Thu-Sun and on the whole, this works for us. Once you establish a routine it can make your work schedule so much easier. When things don’t go to plan, always go back to your “why” and it will keep you focused.
Be flexible with your routine and don’t feel guilty about it
Routines are good, but as we all know with kids nothing is set in stone. When it was the summer holidays and we had been going on day trips with friends and family, our routine became more relaxed and bedtimes were later at times. Of course, the next day I paid for this as my son still woke up between 5 and 6:15am even if he went to bed late and we were like zombies most of the day, but hey that’s life and if this is you too, don’t beat yourself up about it, just go with the flow. Some weeks, you will get more work done than others. Self-inflicted burn out is not the one and we are our own worst enemy at times. When you are working from home, YOU are your own boss, YOU are allowed to re-evaluate what works and doesn’t work for you and your family. We are in it for the long run with our businesses, so we don’t need to take on too much whilst risking burn out and not being “present” for our kids.
Quality time always wins
As you know, some days you will have deadlines to meet or a lot of calls, some days you will have nothing. On your busy days prep your family meals ahead and be sure to schedule in an hour of quality time with your child/dren. If you can give more, go for it. When you work from home, lines get blurred and “mum guilt” can seep in easily. If you used to work part time outside the home, you could have done a 6 hour shift (I used to do this, including 45 mins travel there and back)..the point is, you were not there!, your kids survived and were fine. On your days off, you gave them your time. Now you work from home, just remember those days, there is no need to feel bad. Even if all you can give them is a few hours of your time some days, as long as they have your undivided attention, you are winning. We are doing this for their future after all.
Get out the house
Your home has become your “workspace’’ so it is crucial to get out. I know it can be an effort to get them out, but it is so worth it. I usually take my son to a field near us and just let him run free, or sometimes we play tag or hide and seek and he loves it. It makes him tired; I sometimes get a moment to sit and chill and best of all, it’s a change of scenery for us.
When you work from home, you have to make the conscious effort to connect with your friends/family without your kids when you can. When I used to work for Oasis, this was the norm and I looked forward to my adult time, having girly chats, talking about everything and nothing. I feel it is so important to have time for yourself and have a laugh, where you are not thinking about work or the kids and just being you. You will feel recharged. I have been going for walks with my bestie in the evenings when my son goes to bed and my partner has finished work and it’s so nice to have that bit of “me time” to look forward to.
If help is offered take it, if not… just ask
If you used to work outside the home, you got annual leave and breaks. Now you work from home, you have to allocate this to yourself. It’s ok to have a few days off. If family or friends offer to have your kids for a couple of hours or a night, take it. Don’t overthink it, they wouldn’t be offering if they couldn’t do it, don’t be a martyr. If they don’t offer…you can ask. The chances are they would love to get to spend time with your kids and just think how privileged you are to have that support. You can then use this time as your “day off” from looking after the kids or do some work first thing and then have some time to yourself later. It’s your time to do exactly as you please.
Do it to the best of your ability
I use my mobiles calendar to work to a schedule of doing 2-3 things to do with my business daily, but sometimes this might become only 1 thing. When you have children, you have to cut yourself some slack and I believe if I have achieved only one of my tasks, but have done it to the best of my ability it is much better than doing all 3 slapdash. The world will not come to an end, there is always tomorrow.
Explain to your kids why you work
If your kids are old enough, you can explain to them that you are working from home and why you work from home. Kids are sensible and they probably see most of their friend’s mums going out to work, so don’t totally understand what you are doing at home. Explaining to them helps for when there are weekends when you are “snowed under”, they can understand why and look forward to a nice day out and treats because you worked so hard last weekend. It also makes them proud of you and teaches them that they have to work for what they want in life.
I am still learning and adjusting to working from home. I haven’t created a personal workspace yet and I am really looking forward to doing this 😊. I am really enjoying it and looking forward to meeting a few work from home mums too. If you have any more tips, please send them my way. We have to all remember, we are doing a great job and as long as we are putting our kids first, the rest will all fall into place. Well done to us.