Being able to work from home in your pajamas seems like the ultimate dream career, but if you don’t have a plan and systems in place, it can easily spiral out of control.
I often find that working from home with a baby and toddler is like walking a tightrope every day; you have to navigate a difficult path with focus and precision while making sure obstacles don’t deter you from your goal.
Having been a work-from-home mom for a while now, I’ve learned what it takes to make sure I find some semblance of balance between working and parenting without going crazy.
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Prepare in Advance
While I work from home with two little ones, I also have two who are in school and still need help getting out the door. I do what I can to prepare them and myself the night before. This involves packing their snacks, lunches, and water bottles beforehand.
I make sure to lay out my workout gear (clothes and shoes) so I can find them easily without wasting time. This also ensures I actually do work out and don’t use it as an excuse to not exercise.
Even the best laid out plans will experience interruptions.
I can be super focused on finishing a blog post only to have my toddler interrupt me that he needs help going to the bathroom. Or I’ll be scheduling posts to social media only to have my baby wake up from her nap time needing to be nursed.
If you learn to accept that you’ll have to take breaks, you’ll be less likely to get stressed about it.
For the longest time, I could not nail down a solid scheduler to get my to-do list in order. I’d start my day with a million thoughts running through my mind, but no clear direction on how to start.
Once I got serious about having a solid database to house everything I need to do, I found myself enjoying my work more and being more productive.
I use Asana and Airtable to manage my projects and goals.
Whether you use digital programs or a good ole paper planner, make sure to schedule what you need accomplished so you’re not just winging it every day.
Eat that Frog First
If you’ve never heard of “eat that frog,” it’s not about literally eating frogs, but rather that the “frog” is your biggest and arguably most important task, so you should tackle that first.
Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
If you’re curious to learn more about this technique, Brian Tracy does a great job explaining it.
Do Most Important Tasks During Most Productive Times
Along the lines of eating that frog firs, you should complete your most important tasks during your most productive times.
I find I am most productive around 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM; therefore, this is when I will write my blog posts and craft my emails to my subscribers.
How many times have you sat down to work, decided to quickly check in to Facebook, and then found yourself down a rabbit hole of wasting time? Me too.
And that’s why I avoid Facebook, other social media, emails, and YouTube while working so I don’t get easily distracted from my task at hand.
Chances are that whatever you’re doing has a process to it. Create systems or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to streamline your process and ensure you don’t miss anything.
For example, when I create a blog post, I follow a list of to-dos like keyword research, headline optimization, drafting, writing, editing, proofreading, graphics, etc.
Having SOPs is especially helpful when you outsource or hire new team members because you already have established systems they can follow.
My Work-at-Home Schedule
6:00 AM – 6:30 AM
I am not a morning person, probably never will be because sleep is a luxury when you’re a nursing mom, and I like to get in as much of it as I can, but I’ve realized the only way to get in more work hours is to start the day early.
I typically start my day at 6:00 AM. If I’ve had a super rough night with the baby, I don’t always hit that 6:00 AM mark.
After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I head downstairs for breakfast and some coffee. I have a Keurig, but I find myself using the hot water feature more for instant coffee rather than using the pods.
6:30 AM – 8:00 AM
During this time, I will work on my virtual assistant tasks and special projects for my client.
For my own business, the tasks I work on depend on the day of the week because I use time blocking. You can see this below.
A block is 20 minutes. So on Mondays, I have a writing block which is 20 minutes of laser-focused writing. I will set a timer and don’t allow interruptions (unless absolutely necessary) until the time is up.
I usually start my blocks when the baby is napping or playing and when my toddler is at a good point where he’s preoccupied.
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
This hour is dedicated to getting the kids up, helping the older two kids get ready for school. They’ll have breakfast, get their school gear ready, and I send them to school.
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
These two hours are dedicated to more work. I will work on my tasks for my client and tackle any of the other assigned blocks for the day.
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
During this time, I will play with my kids and prepare and eat lunch with them. After lunch, I will put the baby down for her nap, and my toddler will usually take a nap too.
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
More work time during these hours.
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
My husband comes home during this time, and he’ll pick up the older two kids from school. This is when we’ll go on family errands like grocery shopping and such.
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
This is dinner time. I’ll prep and make dinner, and we’ll eat dinner together. Clean up follows.
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
This is homework time. I have a 3rd grader and a kindergartner so homework isn’t too bad yet, but we’ll look over their school papers, do some reading and light math.
8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
I do more work during this time.
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
And now it’s bedtime. My husband and I get the younger two kids ready for bed. While I’m lying in bed, I catch up on the news and watch some YouTube videos before snoozing.
Being a work-from-home mom is definitely not easy, but it’s so worth it. It’ll take some time to find a schedule that will work for you and your family, but be open to your schedule evolving as your family grows.
When my baby was first born, I had much more time to work because she slept a lot. Now that she’s almost 6 months old, I get fewer hours to work.
As long as you stay focused and have systems in place, you’ll be able to navigate that tight rope with ease.
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