Written by Sonja Bolton
For work-from-home parents (actually for all parents), balancing the needs of the family with the needs of your desk can pose a serious challenge. Some days you feel like you just can’t do it all. Other days you just feel crazy trying.
And then, there are those days, those wonderful, blissful days, where you are able to pursue your heart’s dream of making your freelance biz thrive and the relief and joy that you can cuddle kids rather than commute. While “momming” is quite the full-time job on its own, as any parent can tell you, there is an element of self-care through maintaining a role outside of being a caregiver.
It takes both planning and flexibility to manage while pursuing a career from home. Here are some of the insights I have found to help balance my self-care, family-care and work.
Stay Ahead of the Game
I have my type-A parents to thank for my first strategy. I adore being ahead of schedule. Working ahead when I have time allows me the ability to stay on schedule when life gets complicated. For example, my 4-year-old stayed home from school all week sick and I have yet to fall too far behind. (Fingers crossed.)
Look for the Helpers
Of course, the reason I was able to work at all this week is thanks to my support staff, another thanks to my awesome parents. The stress of being everything to everyone lifted when I gave myself permission to accept help. However and whenever that help comes, do your best to let go. Shut the door. Wear earphones.
Who Said Work Can’t Be Playful?
When help is not around, I like that my desk is inside a Montessori-style, interactive kid zone. The kids become my co-workers. They say play is a child’s work, so when my work-from-home office became theirs, we added a small swing set, trampoline, library, learning toys and an art station. Feeling connected, they can zoom around while I type.
Another key feature to my workstation is a large, comfy chair rather than a traditional office chair. With room for two, (and often three!) they can get that physical intimacy kids crave while I check emails.
How can I work with a wiggling little on my lap? I ask for their help. I ask my 4-year-old what she likes about the graphic I’m designing or read aloud to her the document I’m writing. (This benefits me as a terrific editing strategy, by the way.)
I don’t sweat pausing the work progress for outdoor adventure time. I find that fresh air gives me fresh ideas.
Go With the Flow
Of course, there are certain projects that demand my singular attention. Flexible hours are key. The sun rose quietly as I wrote the first half of my work-from-home insights this morning.
Being efficient with a nap – or rest – time is crucial. My strategy here is to work my thoughts out ahead of time. When I’m coloring or pushing a swing, the other half of my brain is fleshing out my next project. Then, when I sit down to the tranquility of nap time, I’m ready to go.
Give Yourself Grace
Working with kids seriously divides your attention and while you do your sincere best, occasionally things are missed. (True for everyone!) When your boss understands your situation with equanimity, rather than beating yourself up, you focus on the feedback while still believing in yourself. (Thanks, Boss!)
Working from home can be a circus. But with these tender years slipping through the fabric of life, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These strategies have helped me with navigating work and family together under one roof. As each family is different, individual work-from-home approaches and the open-mindedness to give something different a try will be determined by you and your kiddos’ personalities.
In the end, when you can be yourself and focus on whichever role you’re playing in the moment, enjoying life’s intrinsic joys is all we can ask for.
If you’re a work-from-home business owner who could use help to lighten the load, get in touch with Owl & Pen for support with crafting eNewsletters, blog posts, press releases, social media messaging, and more.