I’ve previously written about my experience of being a stay at home working mum and I hope it gave you guys a nice little insight into my life and personal juggling act. We all have a juggling act of some description and I truly believe you can find the best one to suit you, whether it’s ten balls or three; as long as you keep them up in the air without dropping them, you’re smooth sailing.
I mentioned in my previous post that I’d be creating a few tips that I hope you all find useful; whether you’re thinking about transitioning to being a stay at home working mum or if you already work from home but are feeling a little overwhelmed like I was.
Like I said it really is a juggling act. It’s all about finding the right balance to suit you. No one situation is going to be right for another person so take bits from this like I have from others, and tailor make your perfect schedule and ideal situation.
1) Make lists
I’m a list-oholic so I may be a tad biased but I know that they’re so so good for you if you want to get organised. Weekly lists, daily lists, work lists, family lists – you name it; if something you need to do pops into your head – list it lady!
Usually my lists take place in the notes section on my iPhone; that’s the most convenient place as I ALWAYS have my phone on me and all you need is a thumb and enough battery life to type those to-do’s down. However; I really don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than drawing a line though a ‘done’ task. Sure you can just erase it from you phone, and oh my does deleting a complete to do list feel wonderful, but it just doesn’t give that sense of achievement like scoring across those words with a pen – always a pen, it’s much more final and gives you less chance of rubbing the pencil out and adding something in it’s place.
So I usually have a little notepad on my desk with my daily to-do’s on. This is split into sections of blogging, vlogging and general e.g. pick up prescription, iron Pete’s shirts, pay parking fine etc. I also like to split my lists into levels of necessity. Immediate things such as collecting parcels and sending out thank you cards and then soon but not immediate such as choosing our wedding photos and looking for a new nursery for Jasper – all important but not needed to be done today.
A wonderful little book for any fellow list-oholics out there is ‘My Future Listography ‘ by Lisa Nola. It consists of spaces for 147 lists and simply gives you the topic ideas such as ‘habits to break’, ‘hotels to stay in’, ‘fictional character to meet’, ‘things to accomplish’. They’re certainly not immediate tasks and many of them are more lighthearted than serious but it really helps you to focus on what you want to achieve and gives you a bit of an insight into how realistic those things will be. It’s a good book for change and for those with the future in mind and actually made me realise how desperately I want to take up photography – it appears it about 10 lists!
2) Divide your time realistically
Work out how much time you want to spend on each aspect of your life and stick to it. You can always adjust to suit your needs but the last thing you want to do is allocate two mornings a week to working when your work load is at least 3 days worth. It’ll only mean you’ll eat into your family, personal, chore, fitness or whatever time and leave you feeling guilty, overwhelmed and probably like you’re failing.
Decide realistically how many hours a week you want/ need to work then work out when you can do these while still fitting in everything else. Don’t miss things out, it’s so easy not to take into account baby groups, travel time to and from places, house work etc and then wonder why your 6 hours a day of working got eaten up by so quickly by other things.
Realistically I know that I have 2 mornings a week to work while Jasper is at nursery; on a good day its a 20 minute round trip so that gives me 10.5 hours of work per week. I also know that Japser sleeps for 2 hours per day, giving me an extra 10 hours a week (not including weekends). Most weeks I do one food shop, about 5 loads of washing, hoover a couple of times, change the bedding etc etc I know that Pete likes to go to the pub, gym and curry house each week and that we have Rhys at the weekends meaning weekends are pretty full of family time.
From this I simply worked out my balance of 2 nursery mornings of work, 5 nap times of work, 2 evenings alone for working, personal tasks, me time; and then the rest goes to Pete and the boys.
Do the same for your schedule, of course you don’t need to do things minute by minute I’m just simply saying to remember to set aside a few hours for miscellaneous tasks and divide the rest for family and work.
3) Organise your time
If you have 5 hours while your little one is at nursery to work then get in your office and work. If you know your child is sat happily watching a movie – paint your nails, do the washing, schedule some tweets or simply snuggle up and watch with them. Do SOMETHING. Don’t just float about starting tasks that you know you don’t have time to finish and then kick yourself for wasting that precious time. Yes you are your own boss but if you want to be a stay at home working muma you need to organise your time and not procrastinate while your to-do list piles up in your head.
I’ was so guilty of this. I’d drop Jasper into nursery then go and get my nails done or watch the Kardashians and not finish my work load. Nap time would then be used for keeping up with work and the washing pile would stack up. I’d then feel awful about trying to do laundry while Jasper cried for attention and quite honestly like a shit wife when Pete got home to a messy house, dinner unmade and a frantic wife screaming her to-do’s at him like a maniac!
I put pressure on myself thinking I either needed to up Jasper’s nursery time or lower my expectations in terms of how much work I could realistically get done (neither of which I wanted to do) when I simply needed to be better at dividing my time.
4) Have off days
We all know that life doesn’t always go to plan. I really hope this post doesn’t come across that I’m some super organised military time keeper because honestly I have many an off-day. Sometimes you have an extra project with a tight schedule and you just NEED to work while your little one is awake; and that is absolutely okay. Your little one needs to learn to wait, they need to learn that sometimes something else needs priority. They need to learn to play by themselves and if all else fails you need to learn to drown out a screaming baby while you type type type!
There are always going to be uncontrollable events that mean our days just don’t go to plan. The car won’t start, you have the flu, your internet connection is on the blink, your babysitter has cancelled las minute. SO on those days just improvise. Set an out of hours email, snuggle up on the sofa and stay at home with your bambino. Take a walk, have some fresh air, arrange an unscheduled baby date. You are your own boss and yes you may need to pull an all nighter to get that project done; you may need to send an email apologising for your lateness, you may need to sit in a messy house – these are the hazards of being a work from home muma.
5) Get ready every day
Yes being able to work in your pjs may seem like the biggest benefit of working from home but I assure you it is a novelty that wears thin. Shower, get dressed, style your hair and eat a good breakfast. Starting your day right will really give you that motivation to feel like you’re working. Even if you have the mantra of not wanting your job to feel like work I promise you, you will have such a clear mind if you just get yourself out of relaxing, slouchy mode.
6) Have a dedicated work space
Working from you sofa is definitely the best place if you simultaneously want to watch the Kardashians (you can tell I’m a fan right?) but when you work in the same place that you relax the lines will start to blur and you’ll never be able to shut off. You’ll be sat in the same place while your toddler jumps around watching cartoons and when your husband is trying to relax with a glass of wine. You’ll end up on your laptop 24-7 and it’s just not a great way to focus. If you don’t have the space for an office try putting a desk in a little alcove somewhere. Mine is in the bedroom but you could put it in the kitchen, living room, dining room even the hallway if there’s room. Alternatively take over the dining room table, grab a drawer unit to keep under it with your paperwork and allow yourself to spread out while your in office mode. The simply pack it all away when you have guests over or it’s meal time.
7) Accept help
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve turned down offers of my mum having Jasper for the day so that I can work. This isn’t because I don’t trust her, quite the opposite I’d love my mum to have him a few days a week rather than nursery but I just don’t want to be a burden. We all know how tiring looking after your own children can be so it can sometimes seems like a chore expecting someone else to. Well I’ve certainly cut that train of thought out of my mind. Like my mum says, if she didn’t want to she wouldn’t offer. SO I now fully accept her help whether it be popping over with milk and nappies when I run out, having us over for dinner or doing our washing. I accept help because mum life is hard, working life is hard and sometimes we all need a bit of support.
If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family that can help out to make any aspect of your schedule easier – take that help, smile and run before they retract the offer!
Well I think I’ll end it there on the tips otherwise this will be extremely long! I’m sure I have more floating around my head so I could always write a part 2 if this is helpful to any of you.
Please do let me know if you found this useful and if you have any tips for me – I’d love to hear them!
Thanks for reading,