7 Life-Saving Tips for Work-From-Home Moms

work at home mom tips

When you tell people you work from home, the reaction is often varied. Most people say how jealous they are and how they wish they could find a gig like that -- and by the way, do you get to run to Target in the middle of the day because you are "working"? The other half often say they could never do it themselves. "I'd be too distracted," they say.

Neither group has it quite right.

Working from home IS hard. I speak from experience: I'm a WAHM. And no, I don't get to run to Target -- or anywhere else -- most days. I roll out of bed, open my computer, and my day has begun. Very often I am still typing late into the night. Yeah, that whole "work-life balance" thing? Doesn't really happen when your work is in the same place as your play.

It's hard to work from home, but there are some great perks. And there are things WAHMs can do to keep it running smoothly. Here are 7 tips for work-from-home moms that have been my own lessons learned.


work at home mom

More from The Stir: 7 Lies About Moms Who Work From Home

1.) Find privacy. I am definitely not one of those people who insists you MUST have a designated work space in order to get your work done. But you do need privacy.

If you are sitting in the living room and the kids are running around and their dad is talking loudly on the phone and the television is on, you are NOT going to get any work done. Find a private space and stay there.

If someone comes into your space, either escort them out or move. Laptops are vital to the operation. You need peace and quiet. They need to respect it. After eight years, my kids know the difference between Mommy working and Mommy playing, and they know to leave me alone when the door is shut. Make sure everyone in the house is clear on that.

2.) Hire a sitter or nanny. This is an absolute must. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you are a stay-at-home mom. This is ESPECIALLY true when you have little ones. You might be able to get away with it with school-aged children, but babies need supervision. They need people to feed them, put them down for naps, play with them, and take them out to the park for fresh air.

That won't be you if you are also going to be true to your career. Or to your kids. I would feel like a bad mother if I just ignored my kids while I worked and they independently roamed the house with nothing to do.

The major benefit of working from home is that you don't have to lose 10 hours a week to commuting. With three kids, it's the only way I can work. But other than that, it's like any other job. Make sure it's respected as such and you have adequate childcare in place.

3.) Working at home is still work. No, I can't pick your kid up from school or host a playdate or hang out at the pool on a Wednesday afternoon.

I also can't volunteer all day at Field Day (unless I flex my schedule or take off a day), and I certainly can't have a long phone chat about the mean thing so-and-so said to you during school drop-off that morning.

It may look like I am lounging about in my PJs, but I am actually on the clock. In my particular case, I work for a company where a lot of people do go into the office, and I am expected to be available during normal business hours -- and often beyond.

4.) Check your equipment. Sometimes I think I love my MacBook Air as much as I love my children. Obviously, I am kidding, but it's true that your computer, phone, Wi-Fi, and cable will become your life. I have been known to leave our family lake house when the Wi-Fi went down. It's that important.

Make sure you know who to call in an emergency and everything is well charged and in perfect working order. It will make your life much easier.

5.) Ignore the home mess. If you go down a rabbit hole of worrying about the laundry that needs to be washed and folded or the breakfast dishes in the sink, you will never be able to work. You have to pretend like you left for the day and the house is your office.

If you can afford to hire cleaning help like you would have at an office, then by all means, do so. It will make your life much easier.

6.) Try to stop for the day. This is by far my biggest challenge. We all know working from home is a "privilege" (although it's one more companies should explore to save overhead) and that, in order to keep it, we have to work our tails off.

Still, even if you work from home, you deserve your downtime at home. The best thing I ever learned was that we basically need to stop working at a certain time and start at a certain time, too. I don't always stick to it (okay, I rarely do), but it's something to aspire to.

7.) Make time for yourself. When work and home blend together and you have heard the kids with their sitter while you worked upstairs all day, it can be VERY easy to try to slip right into mom mode the second we call it a day. It's not always a great idea if you can avoid it.

We need to make the time to read or run or do things that belong to just us in order to truly delineate between home life and work life. They ARE different, and it will shake up your home life if you forget that! Remember WAHM needs balance, too.

Bottom line: If you are considering working from home, I can tell you it's the absolute best option for a mom who has a spouse who works full-time outside the home. Sick days, snow days, random half days, and calls from the school in the middle of the day don't send shivers of panic down your neck. You save on 10 hours of childcare per week when you would otherwise be commuting.

That said, it's still work. As long as you remember that, it really is a wonderful way to work for moms who can't or don't want to give up their careers.

Do you work at home? What's your advice?

Images via © iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Read More >