These days there are more people working from home than ever. And while there are a lot of benefits to working from home, there are also a lot of challenges. So, how do you balance working from home as a parent?
I have found some great ideas to help us juggle both working from home and raising our children. These tips will help all us multitasking mothers find the best ways to enjoy our kids and love what we do.
Join me as we learn how to balance working from home and family life. This is one case where you really can have your cake and eat it, too!
Working from home with family running around brings its own special challenges. It takes some work and creativity. But finding a good flow is possible by trying out some of these ideas!
Any way you can make your job a little easier is worth it. And trying to make three meals a day for your family is one thing that will take up a big chunk of your time.
One way to make things easier is to meal prep on Sunday. Then it’s easy to conveniently grab items out of the fridge during the week to make a quick breakfast or lunch. This also cuts back on the amount of prep work required when making dinner after a long day of juggling work and kids.
If the thought of meal prepping overwhelms you, there are also a lot of great services out there these days that do most of the work. I love Urthbox for sending us healthy snacks every month. And I also enjoy Freshly for simplifying dinner preparations. They provide all the instructions and ingredients required for making healthy, delicious meals.
Another option for simplifying things in the kitchen is to simply use a grocery delivery service like Instacart. Not having to run to the store and shop for ingredients is another substantial way to save time and erase one of the bigger work from home mom struggles.
If it is a struggle to keep the house clean while managing a job and kids at home, then go ahead and hire a housekeeper. And don’t feel guilty about it!
If you have young kids at home, then perhaps looking into daycare or hiring a mother’s helper for one to two days a week is something you should look into.
A mother’s helper is someone who helps out a family while the parent is in the home. These individuals help with housework, cooking, running errands, and keeping kids entertained while you get some much needed work done.
Another option would be to see if Grandma or another family member would be willing to come over one day a week to spend time with your kids, giving you a chance to work. Or perhaps see if another work from home mom would be willing to swap daycare days with you. This way both of you get a chance to get work done, while also saving money on childcare costs.
And as a bonus, your kids will have a fun weekly playdate to look forward to!
If your children are within eyesight, perhaps while watching their favorite tv show, and you are trying to work, why not put on some headphones to help you stay focused on the task in front of you?
This keeps you from getting distracted by the tv sounds in the background. And it is a great way to signal to your kids that mommy is working and they need to leave you alone until you are done.
If a sitter or family member is watching your kids while you work in another room you can also use noise cancelling headphones. These are great at preventing you from being distracted by the sound of your kids hanging out with Grandma, or your mother’s helper. (See previous tip!)
Turn on some classical music in your headphones and you’ve got another great way to be productive and focused. I love to use these air pods since they are wireless and allow for more freedom of movement when I am working.
Most gyms offer free childcare so why not take advantage of this? Drop your child off at the gym’s daycare, make those important phone calls you need to make and then hit the gym afterwards. You can get some work done and burn some calories.
It’s a win-win.
A wi-fi hotspot essentially turns your cell phone into an easy way to access the internet almost anywhere from your laptop or iPad. With this option, any place you go can turn into an office. Even the waiting room at your son’s karate practice. Or the playland at McDonald’s where the kids can burn some energy off.
This special basket of toys only comes out when you need to focus on work. This way the toys in there are more entertaining for your kids since they don’t get to play with them all the time, allowing you to get work done in peace.
(You may even find your kids begging you to work so they can play with their basket of special toys!)
Sometimes you just need an hour to wrap some things up. It is okay to let your children have a little screen time in order to keep them entertained when you need to work.
If you are concerned about what they watch, keep in mind there are plenty of educational tv programs out there as well as great computer-based programs.
Younger kids aged 2-8 can benefit from programs like ABC Mouse where they get to play games while completing educational activities.
Older kids who may be home during spring break or summer vacation may enjoy taking classes through MasterClass. This program allows them to learn new skills straight from the professionals. One of my sons even improved his jump shot thanks to a class by Steph Curry. (Read my full review of MasterClass here)
If you spend some quality time with your kids before you start work, they will be less likely to interrupt you when you do start working.
And then after you are done, perhaps as a reward for being quiet you could take your kids to the park or play a board game with them.
By spending some quality time with your kids before and after work, you won’t feel so guilty about the time you spend working. And keep in mind that it is good for your kids to see how you balance everything. You are setting a great example for them!
Which brings me to my next tip:
Can they help you set up a photo shoot for your next project? Can they help you pack boxes for shipments? Can they help you pick out colors for your next product?
We all tend to care more about things we are directly involved in. By letting your children help, they will have a better understanding of what you do as well as setting up a great precedent of work ethic for them.
Another idea is letting your children know how some of the things you do for work help pay for the fun activities you do later. Jon Acuff and I talked on the podcast about how we tell our kids things like, “The speaking engagement I had last month is helping pay for our trip to the zoo today.”
You don’t want to look at your checklist for work and then get distracted by things you need to do around the home. By creating separate check lists, it is easier to stay focused on work when you are working and focused on the home when you are doing housework.
Using a weekly planner for each area will help you keep track of everything that needs to get done.
List everything on the calendar so your family knows what’s going on. Then they can look on there to see if you are going to be busy making phone calls, in meetings, when to expect lunch or dinner, what time their activities are, and when you will be done with work.
And make sure to set up a firm stop time.
When you work outside the home, you often have more predictable hours such as working from 9 to 5. However, when you work from home, it can be easy to end up working well into the evening. If you decide on a firm stop time, put it on the calendar, and stick with it, your kids will know when they can expect to have your full attention again.
When my boys were younger they would sometimes even come into my office to remind me that it was time to stop working!
Housework is another thing that can be a big burden for work at home moms. But you can make it easier by breaking it up. So after an hour or two of work, get up and do one small housework task–something that will only take 5 to 10 minutes.
After all, it is important to take breaks during your workday. So, simply doing something like sweeping the floor gets your body moving, allows your brain a chance to reset, and gives you a chance to mark one more thing off your to-do list.
By giving your brain a chance to switch gears for a few minutes, you will also end up being more productive and efficient when you sit back down to work.
It’s important to set up your own office space. It can be way too easy to get distracted when you’re trying to work in the middle of the living room or at the kitchen table.
Even if you just find a little corner of a bedroom or closet, having a dedicated space to complete your work really makes a difference in your productivity by helping you stay focused on the task at hand.
This brings me to our next section of tips:
Having a small area set aside for work purposes is an important step towards success as a work-at-home mom. The following tips will allow you to design the perfect office space for your specific needs.
Your desk is where you will spend most of your time when working. So take the time to research exactly what you need. Keep in mind this is an investment in your career. And don’t forget about supporting your back with a good chair. I really like this one!
Another great investment is having a pair of blue light blocking glasses. These are great at relieving eye strain when spending hours in front of a screen. And they also help to keep the blue light from affecting your sleep cycles.
Having a messy desk can make working from home even more difficult. It’s important to stay organized so that when you sit down to work you know where everything is. Which in turn keeps you from wasting time trying to find what you need.
Organizing your desk may take a little time in the beginning but it will save you a lot of time in the long run. Even using simple items like a pencil holder to contain items, a cell phone holder to keep your phone in a convenient place or a cork board to keep track of important phone numbers, to-do lists, and schedules can really make a difference in staying organized.
Another great way to organize your desk is to:
…to sort bills, receipts, invoices, etc. This makes it really easy to know where everything is with just a quick glance. And these fun file folders inspire as well as keeping things organized!
Taking a few minutes to delete unused files and clean up your caches is an easy way to speed up your computer and save time. After all, no one likes watching that circle spin.
Another great habit to get into is shutting your computer down every night so it can perform any updates needed. This also keeps it running faster and smoother every day.
Any way you can make things easier for yourself as a busy work-from-home mom can be considered a wise investment in your career. I have used and enjoyed many of the programs listed below.
Kajabi is a one stop shop for all your business needs. This service can help create, deliver, and manage online courses. As well as helping with websites, email lists, sales funnels, and so much more. You can read my full review of Kajabi here.
Canva is one of the number one places to create awesome graphics. With their pro version I don’t have to pay for any images and I can easily resize all my graphics. This makes it simple to create an image for a Pinterest pin and then quickly resize it to share on Facebook or Instagram. I wrote an article where I explained with more detail how to use Canva to level up your graphics game.
If you want something more professional, the site 99 Designs operates a freelancer platform connecting clients with graphic designers.
Creative Market sells graphics, WordPress themes, stock photography and other digital goods. It’s a great resource for making professional graphics without spending a lot of money. It’s a wonderful online marketplace to support other entrepreneurial moms.
Tailwind is a fantastic way to schedule all of my pins for Pinterest. I can also post my pins in Tailwind Communities where other bloggers and entrepreneurs can share them. This can dramatically increase my reach on Pinterest. Read my full review of Tailwind here.
Grammarly is a fantastic tool that checks my grammar on everything I write online. Emails, articles, and even social media posts!
One of the biggest challenges for most moms is finding the time to get everything done. These next tips are all about figuring out how to work from home as a busy mom by learning to manage your time better.
We all have extra minutes in the day where we are driving or waiting in line, so why not use these times to get some of the smaller items on your to-do list done?
You can make phone calls while driving to pick your kids up from school. Or you can answer a few emails while you wait for them to be done with sports practice.
Yes, this can be difficult at first, but getting in the habit of waking up a little earlier even just a few times during the week can really help you catch up. Those precious hours before the kids wake up can be some of the most productive of your day because you can work without any distractions.
So prep the coffee maker the night before, make a plan for what you want to get done, and then get up a little earlier so you can get a head start on your day.
This is especially important if you have young children at home because nap time should be treated like gold. As soon as they lie down, set a timer and give yourself 15 minutes to answer emails. And then another 15 to respond to social media comments and inquiries. Then set a timer for an hour to work on that big writing project or online course you need to finish.
Timers are also great for tasks that you dread. It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to do something you don’t like if you know you only have to work on it for a certain amount of time.
And that brings me to my next point which is to . . .
If you take care of the task you dread the most right away, you will feel empowered and relieved that it is over. And it will no longer take up any mental or emotional space. So, don’t procrastinate. Just get it over with first thing!
And then move on to the more fun things in your day.
Creating a routine ensures that you know exactly what you need to get done each day. And it helps prepare your brain for what’s next.
Perhaps when you first sit down to work you answer emails, write an article, and then engage with others on your social media posts. Then you take an hour break to eat lunch with the kids and get some housework done. And then for two hours in the afternoon you make phone calls or meet with clients.
Just figure out the routine that works best for you. And then stick with it.
There are a lot of great apps out there that will track how much time you spend on certain apps on your phone. And believe me, it can be surprising how much time we waste on these platforms.
I know as work from home moms, social media is a part of how we market our services and products. However, even though we should have a presence on social media, we shouldn’t let it distract us from our most important tasks.
A good practice is to set a timer when you need to interact on social media. This way once the timer goes off you are reminded to set your phone down and get back to work.
If you know you have a big project, take the time to turn off notifications on your phone so that you aren’t distracted. It is so easy to hear that alert on your phone and feel like you have to check it. But inevitably while you are checking one thing, you will think of something else you should really look into. And before long you have lost a half an hour of precious work time to your phone.
The best thing to do if you really need to focus and concentrate is to turn off all the notifications on your phone or put your phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode.
And for an even better solution, consider putting your phone in an entirely different room. This way you won’t be distracted by all the pings and buzzes trying to grab your attention.
Don’t buy into the lie of multitasking. Rather than doing two things at once, what actually happens is your brain simply switches back and forth from task to task. This costs you brain power and efficiency. It’s actually more productive to stay focused on one thing at a time. Which is why batching your work is more efficient in the long run.
When you batch work, you focus on similar tasks for a certain period of time. So if you have several writing projects, work on them all in one sitting. One project at a time of course.
If you have to record videos, record them all in one session. And then perhaps in your next work session you edit them all. Because the tasks are similar in nature, your brain can seamlessly move from one project to the next.
Want more great tips for saving time? Check out this article on 52 Ways Busy Moms Can Save Time.
Your thoughts can either make or break you. Which is why I have included this section of tips to help you get into the work mindset before you start your day. Having a good mental outlook ensures success and helps prevent burnout.
Having a ritual helps to prep your brain for the day ahead. And it helps you transition from the morning routine of getting everyone ready for the day into work mode.
A good ritual can be as simple as stopping at Starbucks after dropping the kids off at school. Or simply stepping into your home office, lighting a specific candle, and turning on some music. Having a mindset ritual you do everyday signals to your brain that it’s time to get to work.
If you are at your best in the morning then schedule your most difficult tasks for this time. If you are at your best at night, then work out a schedule that allows you to spend a couple hours working a few nights a week.
By completing your most difficult tasks at these high energy times, you will make less mistakes and be more productive.
Setting up a regular schedule will help you to be more efficient with your time, especially when you are trying to juggle parenting, too.
By coming up with a plan, you can work out a schedule that works best for your family. If you have young kids in the home, morning may be your time for housework and play while work time is set aside for during the afternoon nap.
If you have kids in school you may choose to work in the morning, saving the housework for later in the day when the kids are home and playing.
Either way, having a set schedule helps you to keep track of everything that needs to get done.
Yes, everyone loves the concept of working from home in their pajamas but that doesn’t really work. Pajamas or loungewear signals to your brain that it is time to relax rather than time to be productive.
This doesn’t mean you have to dress for the office, but it does mean finding something other than pajamas to wear.
Even just putting on a t-shirt and jeans can help your brain make the switch from sleep mode to work mode. Putting on shoes is another great way to trick your brain into getting to work.
While you are working, if you get distracted thinking about something like “We need laundry detergent” or “I need to check and see when soccer sign-ups are”, why not write these things down in a notebook or on these dry erase wedges?
This way you won’t forget and by writing them down they will no longer distract you from what you are doing.
This is a great thing to do at night as well, because writing things down allows you to stop worrying about them and get your beauty rest!
Speaking of writing things down . . .
It’s so easy to get distracted by all the shiny things vying for your attention. This is why it is important to keep a running to-do list so you can keep track of everything you want to get done.
And then it is a good practice to take the time to prioritize those things.
As you prioritize your tasks, you may find yourself removing things that you decide you don’t really need to do. And you will also ensure that the most important tasks get done since they are at the top of the list.
Another thing to keep in mind is to be okay with letting some things go when there are bigger projects requiring your full attention.
Try to focus on the top 3-5 most important things on your list. And if you end up having more time, work on another one or two items. But if you find things have come up and you don’t have time to do anything else today, you can rest assured that at least you got the most important items on your list done.
(Another great tip is the 5 before 11 practice. In general, most people tend to be the most productive in the morning, so this practice encourages you to think of the top 5 things you need to get done that day. And then try to get them done before 11 am.)
Be upfront with any clients about the fact that you are working from home. This way if they hear dogs barking or kids in the background, they will not be surprised. And you won’t feel so stressed out about the possibility of them hearing something.
After 2020, most people are very understanding of the complications of working from home. But it is still courteous to be upfront about this so no one is caught off guard.
(You can also use the “mute” button when they are speaking to minimize background noise as well.)
Don’t stress about what didn’t get done yesterday. Don’t worry about what you need to do tomorrow. Simply focus on what needs to get done today.
And create boundaries to help you with this. Such as not answering emails or phone calls while you are with your kids. And then not worrying about the kids while you are working.
Be fully present while working. And fully present while hanging out with your precious kiddos. It is all about healthy boundaries and balance.
If you work with others, it’s important to stay in contact with them. This makes it easier to build relationships and support each other. It is also important to keep up your social skills when working from home.
If you work alone, perhaps look for support from other work at home moms or find other ways to interact with adults. It is good for both your skillset and your mental health.
You are not a machine. You need moments of rest and moments of fun in order to be at your most productive. This will help you be more present and available both at work and with your family.
So, do what you can to take care of yourself. Like ensuring you get eight hours of sleep. And not working through your lunch.
(Take the time to enjoy your food and the mental break!)
Even doing something like using an essential oil diffuser in your office can help you feel more relaxed while working. And items like this hand roller can help to rejuvenate your weary hands after a long day of typing.
Another idea is to take the time to exercise or stretch through yoga practices. Exercises and stretching can increase blood flow while also releasing endorphins which will help you feel ready to take on the day. And this beautiful yoga mat display set is an elegant way to store everything you need for this, freeing up precious floor space.
Being a work-at-home mom, it can be easy to get caught up in thinking about work all the time. It’s not difficult to fall into the trap of thinking you can just send a quick email, and remember something else you need to do. And then before you know it, you have spent an hour working instead of relaxing at home.
At least one day a week, you need to take a break. Spend time enjoying your kids. Do something fun. Allow your brain a break from thinking about work.
By taking a break one day a week, you will end up increasing your productivity in the long run.
I know what you’re thinking, “Wait, what? Take a nap. But I have so much to do!”
The truth is if you are feeling tired you will be less productive and more likely to make mistakes. Scientists at NASA have discovered that by taking a 26 minute nap during the day you can increase your job performance by 34 percent and alertness by a whooping 54 percent!
I guess there is a good reason for calling it a “power” nap!
Shutting your eyes for a few minutes when you feel groggy in the afternoon can lead to hours of restored cognitive function. Just don’t nap too long. As long naps tend to lead to feelings of grogginess.
So, if you’re feeling tired, go ahead and give into the urge to close your eyes for a few minutes. (Maybe even set a timer for half an hour so you don’t doze off too long.)
And then wake up, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the rest of your day!
When setting goals, it’s best to estimate that everything will take longer to get done than you think it will. This is why it’s important to build some margin into your day. And if you find you are consistently not getting everything done then you may need to make some adjustments to your goals.
But as you get into a good routine, you will learn what you can reasonably expect to get done every day. And then be better able to set realistic goals for your business.
To help with setting goals, this Hatch Ideas notebook is a great way to take your ideas from conception to incubation to hatching so that you can bring them to life. And these awesome planners through Cultivate What Matters have helped over 100,000 women set goals and reach their dreams, including me!
Perhaps the season you’re in is more of a foundational season when you are getting your business set up and establishing good habits that will benefit you later in life. There are seasons of sowing and seasons of reaping.
While you have young kids in the house, you can only do so much. It may be that once they are in school, that season will be a time when you are able to focus more on your career and be the best of the best.
Be okay with the season you are in and what you can realistically expect of yourself right now. And be proud of that!
Everyone has bad days. Everyone makes mistakes. So, just focus on doing your best and learning from your failures.
Because the only time you truly fail is if you give up.
When you work from home you can tend to start treating your job as a hobby. Like it’s just something you do in your spare time. But when you treat it like a hobby you end up not taking it seriously. Keep in mind that fulfilling your potential will make you a happier, better mom.
So, be honest about what you do and treat it like the worthy job it is.
We all know a supermom. The kind of mom that seems to be able to do it all. But to be completely honest, when you look at her you don’t see the whole story. So, it is best to stop comparing yourself to other moms.
Only you know what works best for your family. Only you know what works well in your life and for your children. So, stop playing the comparison game and learn to be content while living your unique story.
Motherhood transforms you and helps you grow. And this includes creating positive changes in the workplace as well.
You become stronger, better able to multitask, and more empathetic to others. You develop more patience and flexibility. You become more passionate about what you do and the legacy you are leaving behind.
Yes, working from home while raising kids can be hard. But the challenges are also helping you to grow in ways you never would have otherwise.
It’s a blessing to be able to work from home! It may not always feel like it though.
When you are having a hard day, it’s best to take a step back and count your blessings. Keeping things in perspective helps you to remember that as hard as this is, in the end it is worth every difficult moment to be able to work while also caring for your kids.
Some days your job is going to require a lot of you, other days your children are going to need more from you. Learn to be okay if you have a bad day and nothing seems to get done. There will always be tomorrow.
And if things don’t seem to be working, be willing to make adjustments. It’s like the saying goes, “If parenting were a GPS app, it would constantly say ‘Recalculating . . . ‘“
While working from home is great, it can also be exhausting, just like any other job. So take some time at the end of the day to celebrate what you accomplished.
Allow yourself to let go of the things that didn’t get done and feel good about what you did finish. By choosing to celebrate, you will end the day on a good note.
You may even want to get this super cute pin to remind yourself that no matter what you did your best!
And that, sweet mama, is something to celebrate!
Yeah! You made it through all of my 50 tips for work at home success! I am so proud of you for taking the time to try and figure out ways to juggle both working from home and raising kids.
While it may take some work and creativity working from home is a blessing for both you and your family. So, come back anytime if you need to review these ideas on how to manage your home and work responsibilities, and then confidently go for your dreams!
Note: I partner with the companies linked in this article as an affiliate, which means that I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.