May 24, 2019
Hey, work-at-home mama (WAHM).
I see you. I know your day-to-day all too well.
The messy home “office” strewn with stuffed animals and blocks. The lunch-making and diaper-changing during muted conference calls. The deep-rooted anger you feel for your partner who got to actually focus on his work without a toddler demanding his constant attention - it’s all just another day in the life of a WAHM. But as hard as it all feels, there are ways to make your home-work days much easier.
The blend of working and parenting can get a little tricky to balance… Ok, a LOT tricky, but after WAHM-ing it for over a year now, I have some tips that will (hopefully) help you not only survive your busy work day, but kick its a**!
This sounds really obvious and basic, but it’s essential to keeping yourself on track and accountable for the important tasks that need to get done. Prioritize your to-dos in order of importance AND by your kiddo’s schedule. This should take maybe 3-5 minutes at the most, but bonus points if you can factor in time blocks (ex., 6-7am: Email correspondence; 7-8am: Baby wakes up; 8-9am: Write board report while he/she eats breakfast, etc.). You’re welcome to “wing it” if you choose, but beware, mom brain is a b*tch, and having a checklist handy will make sure those “OMG, I can’t believe I forgot about that conference call/deadline/favor” moments don’t happen. Get more list-making tips, including a free download, from Lisa’s Fuel for Success article here.
Don’t be scared by this one. Meal-prepping in this circumstance does not have anything to do with diet or exercise (unless you want it to! Check out my article on body after baby here). When I say “meal prep,” all I mean is get everyone’s food/snacks ready the night before. These meals can be as simple as leftovers from dinner or a turkey sandwich and some chips, but whatever you plan on eating the next day, make it accessible and easy to take out of the fridge (microwave, if needed) and eat right away. Same goes for your kid(s) - make all the meals, including snacks, the night before. This cuts down on the decision-making, cooking, or possible trip to the store or a fast food joint to give you more work time when it counts!
Repeat after me: When my baby naps, I WORK. Not vacuum, not fold the laundry, not clean the counter, no matter how badly it needs to be wiped. When the baby is napping, drop everything house-related and focus on work. More importantly, refer to the highest priority on your checklist that requires your undivided attention and do that while the baby is snoozing. I know it’s so tempting to do household chores, scroll Instagram, or just veg while you have some free time, but if it’s a work day, you have to take that precious alone time and use every last minute up until the baby wakes to get your sh*t DONE.
If your kid(s) are mobile, this one is a must. Tying yourself to one work space (i.e. a home office) can be restrictive, especially when kids are running from room to room and need your supervision. Step 1 is finding the locations in your house most conducive to playtime and then adapting those spaces to double as a makeshift office. Step 2 is making sure each of your workstations (I have 3 around my house!) are stocked with office supplies, such as pens, pencils and notepads, have a phone and laptop charging cables nearby, and are within WiFi range. Multiple workstations are also important because kids get bored when they have to stay in one place for too long. Creating a structured rotation between workspaces gives them new stimulation in each location (i.e. space #1 is for coloring, space #2 is for toys/puzzles, etc.).
This may be the most important hack of all. As a fellow WAHM, I know the struggle of feeling like you’re not truly present for your kids when you have to work at home, and it’s a very delicate (and emotionally draining) balancing act trying to be both parent and provider at the same time. To keep my sanity, I apply the 20 Minute Rule to my WAHM days, which means when my daughter is awake and playing, I stop whatever I am doing in approximately 20-minute intervals to give her an equal 20 minutes of my undivided attention. Now, I realize this is not always possible, especially with deadlines and calls, but as long as you make the conscious effort to shift your focus when you can, you’ll be a happy mama with a happy kid AND (maybe, just maybe) a happy boss.
Being a successful WAHM is not impossible, even though some days it may feel that way. It’s a challenge, to be sure, but keep in mind, you also grew a human, gave birth, and contribute to the financial wellbeing of your family, so you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to!
I hope these hacks help bring you peace and productivity to your WAHM days! And for the days when everything just goes to sh*t, there’s always wine :).
Want the nitty-gritty details of a day in the life of a WAHM? Check out my last WAHM article here.