BY NICOLE DEAN
The other day, someone asked me what it’s like to be a work-at-home mom. I just blinked back at him, my mind blank. How could I possibly describe life as a work-at-home mom? Only someone who’s lived it can understand the juggling act it requires.
Work-at-home moms have the usual responsibilities of being a mom – folding laundry, scheduling doctor appointments, helping with homework, reading bedtime stories, and basically being on call 24 hours a day. In addition, there is the conundrum of how to find time to work and answer emails, do networking, update bookkeeping, make phone calls, and more. And it must fit into a 24 hour day. So, how do we do it? How do we stay sane in the chaos?
It’s disclaimer time. I am not the person to give advice on sanity. I’m pretty sure I filed away my sanity last year when I did taxes. I have my days where I say “That’s it! I’m getting a regular job!” But, then I talk to my wonderful friend who reminds me of the reality of the real world — the traffic, the boss who won’t let me go to my son’s field trip, and the fact that I’d probably have to buy pantyhose again. She manages to slap some sense back into me every time. I hate pantyhose.
Working from home the last few years, I’ve picked up a few handy tips. They aren’t magic beans, that, when planted, will grow you a nanny and a housekeeper, but they can help you to enjoy being a work-at-home mom just a little bit more.
- Freezer cooking! This is my personal life-saver. Spend one day during the week or one day each month assembling meals and your reward is a freezer filled with food. Then, when it’s time to make dinner, just grab a healthful, inexpensive meal from your freezer, heat it up and serve. Think about it. Next time you cook dinner, quadruple the recipe and put what you don’t eat into the freezer for later. Presto! Magic food will appear in your freezer the next time you need it.
- Pay it forward. By helping others, it reminds us that many of our own problems are much smaller than they appear. Whether you donate money, give blood, or volunteer your time, you are setting a beautiful example for your children. Involve your older kids and make volunteering a family activity.
- Stay healthy. Dust off your roller blades, strap a pillow across your bottom, and hit the pavement. Or surprise your children and the dog with a nice long walk.
- Organize, organize, organize! If you’re spending hours each week sorting through piles of paper, looking for receipts or “to do” lists, that is wasted time and unnecessary frustration. Sweep the Magic 8 ball, the empty jar of peanuts, the Slinky, and the Snickers wrapper off your desk right now. You can do it!
- Save money. As Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Work-at-home moms know how hard it can be to earn a penny. So, do everything you can to save those hard-earned cents.
- Time management. Don’t let Time Stealers make you work any longer than you need to. When you’re sitting in front of your computer or talking on the phone, that is time away from your children. Always remember your “why.” WHY are you working from home? If the reason is to spend more time with your kids, then figure out how to make that happen!
- Learn and learn some more! Find a mentor or someone whose way of handling their business you like. Network with other moms who are successful, take online classes, or hire a coach. Invest in yourself and you’ll invest in your business.
- Play with your kids. Whether you sit down to play a board game or drive Hot Wheels around the carpet, there’s always fun to be had. If you need some ideas, check out ShowKidsTheFun.com
- Keep your sense of humor. Laugh every day! Turn off your computer, put in your copy of The Village People’s “YMCA” (I know you have one), and dance, dance, dance!
And the number one way to stay sane as a work-at-home mom . . .
- Always remember: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Although it often feels like the days drag by as a work-at-home mom, remember that the years are flying by. It’s that reminder that keeps me grounded on days when the projects are heavy and the beach is calling.
If you’re looking for me, you can find me at the beach!