I’ve been a Stay at Home Mom working from home for nearly six years, ever since my twins were three-months-old.
Before I became a stay-at-home Mom, I was an event planner for corporate and pharmaceutical groups for more than eight years. After the birth of our kids, we had such a great routine – call me crazy – but I had time on my hands during naps and early bedtimes and was looking to do something for myself that wasn’t related to caring for children.
Part of this was to preserve my identity outside of being a Mother, but it was financially gratifying to earn an income once again and I had missed setting goals other and producing work that I was proud of.
After reaching out to my network in the industry and letting people know I was ready and capable of taking on part-time contract work, I slowly built up my clientele.
What I’ve found as a contractor is that inevitably, there at periods of feast and famine. Being a contractor means that I can take on as much as work as I want – sometimes stockpiling those paychecks for the slower times of the year – or even turn down assignments when my plate is full or our family’s needs trump a bigger workload.
It gets a little crazy at our house sometimes when i’m juggling multiple contracts, and I may not be sleeping as much as I should, but I enjoy the satisfaction I get from working. It’s always been my nature to work more efficiently with more things on my plate, than not.
After being a Stay at Home Mom working from home for nearly six years, these are the ways that keep me organized and efficient while I manage multiple accounts working remotely – without letting it creep into the time I spent with my children.
Here are the top tips to setting work from home boundaries; Learn how to manage your time and optimally juggle parenthood and work duties without one impeding on the other.
BE UP-FRONT WITH BOUNDARIES
I am a work-at-home Mom and my work ranges from 10 – 25 hours per week. With that said, before I solicit my services or accept any new work, I am upfront that I am always a Stay-at-Home-Mom first and manage my hours around my children’s schedules.
Companies and individuals I work with understand that the majority of my work is done over naptimes and nighttime when my kids are sleeping. If I feel working for a specific company won’t be a good fit because of these parameters, turning down the work is the right decision.
If your work speaks for itself and you continuously put out good, quality work, the flexibility of the hours you keep will not matter. Most of the time, companies don’t care that I don’t work typical business hours, just as long as I meet deadlines and turn in great work.
HAVE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE
Create an office area inside your home that serves as home base for all your work needs.
When you’re working, this is where you work and when you’re done, leave your office and close the doors or put everything away, until you can come back to it later. Have an organized filing and database system so that when it’s time for you work, you’re not wasting any time to track down what you need.
When new work comes down the pipeline, look ahead and plan your week around the workload this requires.
For example, if that means working four nights during week, extending my kid’s preschool to a full-day instead of half-day, or needing an extra afternoon with the help of a babysitter, planning ahead to stay on top of time commitments will make the week less chaotic and keep my sanity.
A Stay-at-Home Mom working from home is a master of scheduling and planning their time!
What tasks do you need to do first to get the project going? Are their steps in your process you can plan for? For me, reaching out to vendors and getting bids, sending emails and making calls always come before I can develop a proposal and budget.
When I tackle the big stuff first and don’t procrastinate in gathering what I need, the rest of my week will fall into place and I’ll stay on-task and meet my deadlines.
SET A ROUTINE FOR YOUR WORK
Creating a routine for your family is essential, but creating a schedule for work is just as important. This is what will keep you on task every day, all day. For example, my work routine that follows our nap & bedtime routine is:
MORNING (10 – 15 minutes)
- Check email first to get an idea of new work requests or status updates for works in progress
MID-DAY (During Naptime, 2 – 2.5 hours)
- Make all of my important calls to vendors and have conversations with vendors who I need pricing, availability and more information from. I don’t always wait for emails back from vendors I use, sometimes I just need to pick up the phone and get answers right away because the rest of my work is contingent on this piece.
- Schedule conference calls during this time
- Spend the rest of my time working on proposals, contracts, budgets, forecast documents from the information I gather.
EVENING (7:30pm – 12:00am)
- Send out emails so they’re in inboxes when they get in first thing in the morning and can respond right away
- My work at night is dedicated to writing and wrapping up proposals. I have from 7:30pm – 12am (most of the time I don’t work this late, but I can if I need to which is the beauty of working at night), to create and complete projects, edit, re-edit, spot check and create action plans for new projects.
- Organize all my files and backup information
- Create a task list for the next day – (Pick Your Top 3 Tasks and Work on the Biggest One First)
READ MORE about creating a great routine and download the sample printable schedules (Newborn through Preschooler) to implement with your family.
BE PRESENT WITH YOUR KIDS WHEN YOU AREN’T WORKING
When naptimes/quiet times are over, so is your work. This should be non-negotiable.
I try my best not to work in front of my kids so when I’m with my kids, I’m fully present. I don’t stick around on my computer or answer emails when I can be outside playing with them.
Limit the use of your phone and especially social media which is a time suck and distraction from being present. Close the office doors and do not go back in until they’re asleep during nap time and at the end of the day.
PREPARE IF YOU *HAVE TO* WORK IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS
Once in a while, I have to take a work call or jump on a conference call when my kids are at home. These scenarios don’t pop up often but if they do, I make sure to set them up to be busy and play quietly on their own.
Quick Tip: Teach Your kids from an early age how to play independently and this will make this times when you need to work, much, much more maneagable.
Here are 20-minute Quiet Time Ideas you can easily prepare, save and pull out at a moment’s notice!
If I know I have a conference call, webinar or a work call and I am in the position to schedule it, I always try my best to schedule these over naptimes if possible to avoid potential interruptions.
WAKE UP EARLY / STAY UP LATE
If you need a good chunk of time for work, but stay at home with your kids, you have two choices. You can either wake up early before your kids get up in the morning or stay up late after you’ve put them to bed.
I am not a morning person so getting up in the morning is a challenge (although I feel productive for the entire day when I do, do this.) I like to get up early to get a jump on the day but when that doesn’t work, I have the option of kid-free hours at night.
What works better for me and gives me more time is working from the time my kids go to bed. The window to work at night is from 7:30pm – 12:00am though most nights I get in 2.5 – 3 hours and am in bed before midnight. This is a huge chunk of time to tackle many projects.
What I love about working in the evening is that I can stay up as late as I need, while in the morning, I only have a set amount of time to squeeze work into.
Consider and ask yourself is, what time of day do you have the most energy and work the best?
If you have more creativity and productivity in the morning, mornings may work better for you so you should set your alarm an hour or more before the kids get up. Increase your morning productivity with these helpful tips.
But if you are a night owl and work better with the day behind you, then setting time aside at night to work might be a better fit.
I do not like to work in front of my kids, but when I have a lot on my plate or know that I need to set aside extra hours, I occassionally schedule 3-4 hours with a babysitter who can come and play with the kids while I shut myself away in the office and crank out work uninterrupted.
An alternative to hiring help is enlisting a relative you trust to watch your kids or head to the gym if you have free childcare included in your membership and get a couple hours of work completed while they’re happily playing or in a class.
SET A BEDTIME FOR YOUR KIDS
Our household revolves around a routine – I swear by having a daily routine and that includes a consistent bedtime. We have early bedtimes, which is good for us but not always loved by others because we do cut outings short. Early bedtimes work great for our family and so we try our best to always be consistent with them.
Our one year old goes to bed at 6:30pm and our twins go to bed at 7:30pm. We very rarely stray from those bedtimes so the extra hours in the day while my kids are asleep can be spent working, with my husband or indulging in self-care practices.
AVOID TIME SUCKS
It’s easy to jump on Facebook or Instagram to check your news feed and when you finally look at the clock, notice you just wasted the last 30 minutes not doing too much.
For this reason, I turn off all notifications on my phone and don’t jump onto social media when I’m working – especially when I’m on a deadline – because it’s a time suck and a waste of already limited work time.
Avoid checking my email unless it’s the top of the hour because I can get distracted or my mind wanders to another work project if I check-in too often.
Stay on task by turning off social media and notifications and set aside 5 or 10-minutes each hour to check email. When you check email, make a task list from any pending emails but don’t jump into a new project unless an email requires an urgent response.
SET ASIDE DOWNTIME
It’s very easy to get into the habit of jumping on my computer when your kids are sleeping, so you may have to actually schedule in downtime away from my computer and work to spend time doing something else.
As a contractor, my schedule can be wonky – the whole feast or famine thing – and often I do work on Saturday or Sunday nights unless I take the initiate to schedule date nights with my husband or we have friends over. It’s important to create a healthy balance between family, work and your own time, especially when you’re a Stay at Home Mom working from home.
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Nicole @ Audaciously So says
I became a consultant about a year ago too, and the feast or famine type thing is definitely something I’m still not adjusted to. It’s also hard to ever take days off because if you’re vacationing, you’re not getting paid. These are all really good pieces of info though that I’m going to keep in mind for when I have kids one day, particularly with setting my boundaries!
Doesn’t it feel like when you get work, everyone reaches out at the same time too? I am attached to my phone and computer more than ever because of my contractor status but it makes it very flexible not working in an office and working around the schedule that works best for you. Its totally worth it and you’ll be able to juggle it no problem when you have kids too. Thanks for commenting.