When I tell people that I work from home the standard response I get is “Oh that must be so nice!”. I have to smile and say that it’s lovely but the reality of my days is far different from what people must think.
I run two small businesses from home with two kids. I was about 178 months pregnant with my second when I started my entrepreneurial adventure so I’ve always been in this balancing act of family and work.
My expectation was that the children would play happily around me while I got loads of work done, kept up with housework, never missed a precious moment of their lives and never felt an ounce of mom guilt.
I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing before you carry on….
The reality is that I grab 5 or 10 minutes at a time between the screaming and the scrubbing and feel guilty the whole time. And try to restrain myself from punching all the people who say “Enjoy this time, they grow up so fast!” Oh shut up already.
So how do I do it?
Here’s what a typical day looks like for me
- Wake up, get dressed, make the beds.
- Fix breakfast for me and the boys (my husband leaves really early for work.)
- While I eat my breakfast in the kitchen I will check and respond to messages or emails on my phone.
- After breakfast I will take some product photos in the morning light or complete any urgent tasks.
- Then we leave the house. I probably don’t have to tell you that staying home all day with children is a recipe for a disastrous day. So we will either meet up with friends for playdates, head to a playground or I’ll take them to the library or indoor play place where there is wifi. I will work on tasks like editing photos, post listings or social media management while they play.
- On our way home we will either stop at the post office to ship out orders or pick up work-related supplies.
- We come home for lunch and I’ll blitz the kitchen while they eat so dinner prep is easier.
- After lunch is rest time. My 3yo will still nap most days and my 5yo will have quiet time in his room. I try to be flexible because I can’t alway count on rest time going well. Sometimes the little one won’t sleep or the big one is uncooperative. But this is my main chance during the day to accomplish larger work tasks like designing new patterns and cutting out projects.
- After rest time the kids will typically go outside to play. If it’s raining and they are fighting a lot, we’ll put on the t.v. I keep an eye on them while I putter around the house and start dinner prep.
- Dinner time. This is one of the tasks that I have simplified as much as possible. I hate cooking, and coming up with a dinner plan stressed me the heck out. But now I get a weekly food box delivered to my door from Hello Fresh! Every week, I receive all the ingredients and instructions for 3 different meals. Most of the veggies and meat come pre-chopped too! Hello Fresh has seriously improved our day-to-day, we’ve been doing it for almost 6 months and will never go back. If you want to try it, click through this link to score $40 off your first box!
- While I make dinner I will check emails and messages again or print out orders. I’ll catch up on personal correspondence too.
- After dinner my husband takes the kids upstairs for baths, playing and bedtime while I clean the kitchen, pick up the toys, sweep and catch up on laundry.
- Then I work till about 10 or 11pm. I’ll prep orders for shipping, or go to the basement to use my sewing machine. If I have hand-sewing to do then we can watch tv while I sew.
Here’s my truth time moment. My kids go to a babysitter 2 days a week. It was a decision we made when I needed some time to focus on my mental health. But it was a good decision for all of us. So 2 days a week I get more dedicated time to work or run errands and go to appointments alone.
Also, my main work space is in the living room. That way if the kids do happen to be playing happily I can easily grab a few minutes of work time without having to set anything up. The kids know that they are not allowed to touch any of my work stuff, and they are surprisingly excellent at adhering to that rule.
My husband is insanely supportive. He has never once questioned my business plans or the time I need to work. He is very hands-on and jumps in to help with the kids and the housework the moment he walks in the door. I’m so blessed!
I guess what it comes down to is that you will make the time for the things that are important to you. Somehow, I just make it work. I never want to miss a school concert or soccer practice or worry about juggling appointments. Working from home gives me that flexibility. Even though some days I get frustrated that I can’t have 8 hours of uninterrupted work time, I still wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Are you a work from home mama? What are some of your tips for scratching out work time?