How to Survive Working from Home
“Mommy is always on the computer!”
“All mommy does is go on the computer!”
The knife goes right into your heart.
The trouble is, I work from home. When Daddy is at work you can’t see him on the computer. When I’m at work at home, you can.
Eight years ago, after my first son was born, I made the decision not to return to my job as project manager at the university. It wasn’t really a hard choice, and luckily, we were able to do it. A year-and-a-half later, our second son was born, so there was no going back to work for me.
For the first few years I did a lot of volunteer work. I was the chair of fundraising for two different playground committees.
I had several reasons for doing this volunteer work other than contributing to the community.
1. I needed something to do other than look after my kids
2. I wanted to keep up my skills from my PR degree
I had a mommy friend who was out of the workforce for 7 years with her kids, and when she returned, she couldn’t even find the C drive on a computer. I did not want that to happen to me. I wanted to keep up my professional and technological skills so that the transition to work (when and if) would be easier.
Eventually, I started doing contract freelance writing work from home. I also started the Valley Family Fun website.
All of this while my kids were at home, and me without daycare. It’s much easier now that my kids are both in school and I have at least 7 hours a day to get some things done! However, it wasn’t always easy.
There were times that my husband and I would argue so much about “who gets the time.” Someone needs to be with the kids, and someone needs to be working. Who gets what?
There were times when I would have to conduct interviews in the bathroom with the shower running to block out the noise of my kids screaming outside!
There were times when I had to ask my mom to come over to watch the boys so I could make a phone call.
Over these past 8 years, I have received some good advice, and discovered some tips on my own, for working at home. This is not to say that I follow them all, all the time!
1. Ask for help. Have someone watch your kids, or trade babysitting even once a week, just so you have a few uninterrupted hours to work, catch up, think straight, or check your email. Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be a martyr.
2. Carve out working times. When you work from home, it’s always there. People are always emailing, and there is always something to do. Pick times when you will work and when you won’t.
3. Turn off the “bings”. My computer would bing every time I had an email, or a to-do task come up. I would have to know right then who it was from. Turn off the sound. Shut the lid of the computer.
4. Make a proper work station. For a long time I worked at the dining room table. Every time we had a big family meal, I had to clean up my work. I also suffered from terrible neck pain from a poor set up. You are important. Make it happen.
5. Know your limits. When I first started working from home I took on more projects that I could realistically handle. Sometimes it takes time to know how much you’ll be able to do. It’s better to take on too little than too much.
6. Take a break. One momma told me that she works right up until 30 minutes before the kids arrive off the bus. Then, the last half hour she spends reading a book, having a nap or a cup of tea. This way, she is refreshed and not tired and ready to go again when the kids get home.
7. Forgive yourself. You will feel guilty for working. You will feel guilty for being on the computer in front of the kids. You will feel guilty when the kids make comments. You also have the right to have a meaningful work life.
8. Remind yourself. Remind yourself why you are working from home – in my case, it is to be with my kids more often. So, be with them. That’s more important than anything else!