I never thought that I would be a stay-at-home-mom. Not that I was for or against it, I guess I just never really thought that far into my future. I had planned on getting married and having kids, but thinking about whether I would return to work or stay at home with them was just too far for me to plan.
Well fast forward to 2012 when I had my first baby. We were living in upstate New York and didn’t know how long we would be there. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Strategic Communication, but the jobs that were available to me at time didn’t pay enough for me to take them. With the cost of childcare, I would probably be losing money by the time I paid for Nolan to be in daycare. So at that point, we decided I would stay home and we would adjust to a one household income. I knew I would return to work when we settled somewhere and I found a job I was passionate about, we just didn’t know when that would be. Or what that would be.
It was that summer that I started blogging more seriously than I had when Z was deployed, and that fall that I received my first opportunity to review a product. I had no idea that it would eventually lead to more product reviews, sponsored posts, networking opportunities, and a small income.
On top of this here blog, I also work for Practically Magic Virtual Assistance, dabble in some freelance writing, and was brought on as Editor-in-Chief of a new up and coming magazine. So while I may not work outside of the home or make a million dollars, I’m doing something(s) I love while getting to stay at home with the kids. I’ll chalk that up as a win.
But it can be a challenge. Toddlers are what you would call eh, needy. They want to play, they want a snack, they need more juice, they want something else on TV. Someone stole someone’s toy, someone wants to snuggle, they wont stop touching each other, they want to play outside. It’s always something. I’m not complaining in any way but it’s definitely hard to sit down and accomplish things throughout the day. Things usually happen in pieces and most time things get started at one point and finished later.
So how do I get it all done? It changes from day to day. But typically, this is how I manage my time as a work-at-home-mom.
Lists: I think I have more notebooks than most stores have on their shelves. You can never have too many notebooks and I’m always using them so I need a lot of them, right? But I make a list for everything. Groceries we need, things I need done for work, appointments that need made. Nothing feels better than checking things off as you accomplish them.
Invest in a planner… and use it: Write everything down. I try and write down everything; when I’m going to take pictures, when I’m going to write, when I have a deadline, when I need to send money, when I need to drive who where. By breaking it down by day, week, and month as best I can to my ability, it eliminates any OMG I FORGOT THAT. Of course I’m human and that happens, but it’s important to plan ahead whenever you can. I’m always playing catch up and I find I’m much more productive when I’m ahead and have some breathing room. If you need to write your gym time down, do it. If you need to write “put down the phone and stop working” at 8 pm or whatever, do it. Try and hold yourself accountable and you’ll find that you can work much more productively.
Quiet time: The kids have been boycotting naps recently (lucky me), so the whole “work while they’re sleeping thing” doesn’t really apply to me. They’ve never been on any sort of schedule anyways with the way we’ve moved around and had Z in and out due to traveling. So we have quiet time after lunch. They can watch a movie, read books, play cars, whatever. But it’s not time to play “chase” or be outside. It’s time to relax and settle down. Sometimes I can get Lady to take a nap, and other times I can’t. So I try and work while sitting on the couch with them or in my office/their playroom while they play together. Same thing goes for the morning. I have my coffee and get work done while they eat breakfast and watch TV. Then when they’re done, I’m done by default and we do something together.
Night time: Like I said, they’re not on any sort of schedule. If Nolan doesn’t nap, he’s usually asleep by 7:30-8. And P is usually following suit in the next hour or so. So once they go to bed, I try and get as much work done as I possibly can. Of course this takes away time from my husband, so I try to limit this to 30 minutes or so. So of course, not much can be done in that small amount of time. I also have to switch laundry that’s probably been sitting in the washer/dryer for hours, pick up the tornado debris from the kids that day, and other random household things. Not enough hours in the day, I tell ya. But luckily, Z is the best husband and does the dishes and then helps with whatever other chores I’ve yet to finish that day. Teamwork makes the dreamwork, so if you can have your spouse eliminate one of the things on your to-do list, it will help you tremendously.
Mother’s Helper: I recently hired a Mother’s Helper and it’s been WONDERFUL. I pretty much pay her to play with the kids, get them snacks if they want them, and entertain them. She’s great with them and it allows me to work from home and actually get work done uninterrupted. The only downfall is that P is needy and when she sees me, she wants me. So I try and have them play upstairs, outside, or go for a walk. I’ve contemplated moving my office to my room for the very reason that I can shut the door and it will be “out of sight, out of mind” for the little one. It’s only been three weeks or so, so we are still working out the kinks. But she’s great and I love having her help!
Don’t take on too much:
I don’t work a typical 9-5, so I pretty much work all day. From morning until night, I’m working in someway and somehow. I try to get as much done as physically possible when they’re sleeping (which is rare) or when my Mother’s Helper is here. Weekends are for family so I don’t get much done on weekends, except for social media or responding to emails that come to my phone. Even then though, I try to limit the amount of time I’m doing that.
Working from home definitely has its perks but it also has its downfalls. I sometimes feel guilty for having to work when they want to play. Or that I could be working outside of the home providing more for my family than I am. But I also feel that being here with them, no matter how much time I’m actually able to play or entertain them, is still the best for our family at this point in time. With Z in and out so frequently, it’s important for them to have stability. And this is just what works for us right now.
Whether you work outside or inside the home, you’re going to face challenges. But staying organized and prioritizing is the biggest way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your day and time.
Do you work outside or inside the home? What are your tips for managing your time? How do you stay organized?