It’s been about 2 1/2 years since “officially” leaving my previous 9-5 employer of 8 years. I was put on bed rest during my twin pregnancy in January ’15, welcomed my little preemies to the world that March, and resigned that July. Staying home to raise our kids was the best decision my husband and I have ever made for our family, but it has no doubt been a challenge…and, I say that with total gratitude and in the best way possible.
Anyone with kids understands that being a parent is totally a thankless job. It’s kind of just part of the gig. It’s what we sign up for. And whether you work out of the home, stay at home, or work from home, I believe it’s indeed the single most important position we as parents will hold in our lifetimes.
I have been on all sides of the above (as far as working situations go) in my short 4 and something years as a mother, and all have their ups and downs, and one is no more or less acceptable or okay than the other. We’re all just trying to do the best we can for our kids, and I love that.
Now, I just have to say that I won’t try to pretend that I have it all together, because truth is- most days I flounder about & fail five times times before I succeed. But that’s all part of personal growth, and part of teaching my kids that it’s okay make mistakes, as long as we try (and try and try..) to do better. Hey, I’m human …and unless there’s some new crazy robotics technology that I’m not aware of, I’m pretty sure you are too.
So here is my experience, for whatever it’s worth.
Transitioning from a consistent paycheck, deadlines, and even appreciations for a job well done to 24/7 selflessness and perpetual sleep deprivation is a heavy transition.
Over the past 2.5 years I’ve been consumed with guilt for not “working” (in the traditional sense of course), and overwhelmed with gratitude & humility at the opportunity that has been presented to me to stay home and raise my children- my lifelong dream. I know that none of this would be possible without having to face the hard challenges that we did, and without the help of my incredibly supportive family. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and know that in this day and age it is so much harder to come by. I don’t want to take that for granted.
This lifestyle has no doubt taken much sacrifice of not only the life we once lived, but of self, and of expectations.
Most days, I try to fill the time between naps with my odd jobs- lettering and design work, social media consulting, and this blog. And once my husband gets home, my nights are filled with my actual job, doing photography and imaging for a top jewelry retailer, a job I absolutely love.
Doing these things definitely helps with the guilt trips I put on myself, but I have learned that there is definitely an art to balancing the hustle with the little ones still in tow.
It’s hard work to try to do it all. When this work life balance is off kilter, enter the anxiety and the mommy guilt for not feeling present or spending enough time on the house and with the kids.
I put together a simple list of things I do to remind myself to be present while working at home, keeping the balance. Please keep in mind that I am in no way an expert on this topic (an expert at changing diapers maybe, but a life coach I am not!). I am just sharing the things that have worked for me. I hope these tips help you in your work at home journey!:
1. Set work hours:
Give yourself designated hours to work (I know, it’s ALL work when you’re an at home parent…here, I’m talking about your income producing tasks) and stick to them. Whether this means waking up before the kids to check your emails and reply to clients, or going full on after their bed time, do what works for you! It helps you get into that routine again, and the kids know that your work hours are for helping the family. They may still tug on your shirt and want you to play, and that’s okay too. Just get back to it when you can, or start over the next day. It’s a process to adjust to, but it has definitely helped me! I have 3 under 5- an almost 5 year old and 2 year old twins, and they constantly want to play (which I LOVE), so I set my hours for nap time and after bed time so I can be as present as possible while they’re awake.
…depending on the type of work you do, of course. For me, this is a no brainer…but sometimes it’s easier said then done. Let family time be family time. When you aren’t working, leave your devices in another room. (Especially during meals and story time!)
3. Get on their level:
It really helps me to sit down on the floor at my kids’ level. I experience the world through their eyes, and am reminded what a precious fleeting season of life this is! While it’s important for you to have something for you (part of why I personally choose to work from home), it’s also extremely important for your kids to know they are your priority. Mine get so excited when I’m down on the ground playing with them, plus I win “cool points”, and as a mom, I can never really get enough of those from my kids…I wonder if I can stockpile a surplus of them for the teenage years to come….is that how that works?
4. Keep a daily schedule:
I started doing this again maybe a week or so ago, and boy- I wish I had done it sooner. This totally streamlines my day! I made a schedule with times, and three different columns (mommy, Jude, and twins- can be edited depending on your kids’ ages to mommy, baby, toddler, etc.) I write out per hour or so what we normally do in each time, and find the slots where I can get my work done while the kids are occupied with other things. This will surely vary based on your situation, and can seem sort of extreme, but for a crazy multitasker with anxiety like myself- it has SO helped. This is not all to say that you have to stick strictly to the schedule (because we ALL know, when a child refuses to nap, all bets are off…), but helps serve as a guide to a productive work day AND a productive parenting day, while still allowing your kids to do their thing. (I will upload a free printable template if there is a desire for it!)
5. Let them “help” you work:
Whenever there are tasks that I can have my almost 5 year old help me with, he jumps on them! Whether it’s stamping or sealing envelopes, picking out designs, offering color suggestions, grabbing me a certain pen or paintbrush- he eats it up! Get them involved and let them know that you value their help and “expertise”.
6. Eat together:
This is SO important for our family. Even though we moved halfway across the country, are living with family, and have crazy schedules, we have and will always make it a point to sit down and have dinner together. Some nights, my husband may work and it’s just me and the kids, but I so treasure this time with them. My 3 year old and I talk about our day (while I also negotiate with him over taking 5 more bites of his food lol), talk about our feelings, plan exciting and fun things to do for the next day. We are totally in eachothers company, and totally present. It is definitely my favorite part of the day.
7. Breathe & give yourself some grace!:
I’m going to be real with you. All of these things are awesome, IF you can remember to do them everyday. I am the QUEEN of beating myself up…no really. I am constantly fudging up, giving myself guilt trips and telling myself I’m no good at what I’m doing. I feel guilty for not working, but would feel even more guilty for leaving. I have good days and bad days. But you know what, I have a feeling that THAT’S MOTHERHOOD! Some days are amazing and I am present, and happy, and the kids are happy, and everything flows. Other days, I feel like crying and I want to stay in my sweats all day and binge watch OUAT with a 5 Lb bag of Jelly Bellys (don’t judge me, sister)! If you are still learning this balancing act, which I think, for me at least, is going to be a life long thing- take a step back, take a deep breath, give yourself some grace, and go love on those kids. Remember, you’re doing the best you can. They just want YOU, your love and your attention. They are the reason we do this, after all.
*Thanks for taking the time and reading! Please, say hello! I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please keep it friendly, this is a community based on support and encouragement ❤️.