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Note from Laurie: I wrote this post a few years ago, but it's invaluable today! If you're like me and a stay-at-home working mom, everything that changed this week as we prepare for Coronavirus warnings may have hugely impacted not only your family and your regular life, but also your business and everything you do. These tips have helped me survive during more difficult seasons, and are great reminders today too!
You all know I love my kids.
But some days as a stay-at-home-working-mom, I get waaayyyyy too overwhelmed.
Our kids went back to school last Monday after Christmas break, and since heading back one of my kids has been home two days sick, and today we're having a snow day.
While I love that I'm home for them on the days they need me here, it makes working hard, but there are a few strategies that really do help me survive.
Here's what I've figured out so far. 🙂
1. Lower your standards.
- Use paper plates for meals. ‘nuf said.
- Take advantage of quick lunches – string cheese and fresh fruit is just fine as a meal. (Or, if you're lucky like me today, your neighbors will order pizza for the kids. Woot!)
- Don't expect to get as much work done as you would on a normal day. Just don't.
2. Work standing up.
This may sound crazy, but if you're sitting down while working it's a little more stressful to have your kids ask for one more thing you need to hop up for. But if you're already up (check out my standing desk), it's easy to run and take care of whatever your child needs then get back to work. (Like I said, it sounds crazy but it's the truth!)
3. Get help.
You can't do it all, so hire help if you can. If you run your own business, see if there are assignments you can give to an assistant (my virtual assistants are invaluable to me), or if you have small children consider hiring a babysitter a few hours each day.
It took me years to get to a place where I really could afford enough help, so if you're in that middle mess ~ running a business but not seeing enough income to justify paying for help ~ you are not alone. Be patient with yourself as you muddle through this season (especially when your kids are home!), and focus on doing only the things that really matter today.
Note – even though my kids are older, ages 15, 12 & 8, I've occasionally hired a sitter during the summer just to get them out some. It's SO HARD to do as a penny pincher (I hate paying a sitter!), but gives all of us a break for the day, and everyone comes back happier!)
4. Give your kids a plan & chores to do.
If your kids are old enough, give them a few chores to tackle throughout the day, as well as a general schedule of what's going on.
And remember you're not in charge of doing everything for your children – instead, instill practical work skills so they learn the value of their effort.
If your kids are old enough, adopt the “commission” plan as well, and pay them to work on certain chores (or even babysitting if you have younger kids for older kids to watch. My rule is that while babysitting younger siblings, the older kids only get paid if they don't interrupt me for anything that they can really take care of themselves.
5. Network with other folks in your field.
This is huge.
On days when I know I can't work as much, I try to swap links with a few of my favorite blogger friends so that we both get more traffic even when not working as often. While I'm not sure this will work in every field, think outside the box to come up with a potential plan that may be beneficial to both you and other moms who work in the same field.
6. Swap babysitting.
Note: swapping babysitting is not be a great option right now when trying to practice social distancing due to the Coronavirus scare, but is a great option during other seasons!
If you have a friend or neighbor who's also a working mom, try swapping babysitting, especially with younger kids. My kids are old enough that they're usually pretty entertained when neighbor kids are around to play with, but scheduling play dates can help entertain your kids a ton while they're there.
(Just know going in that when the kids are playing at your house you'll have a few interruptions.) 🙂
7. Schedule your time.
This one has made a huge difference in my productivity the last year, and I can't tell you enough how very important it is to have a plan in place before starting work. I now have a rough schedule of posts for the next few weeks planned out ahead of time, as well as a written schedule for social media each day, making my time working so much more efficient.
Here are a few things to consider as you plan:
- Decide what time you'll be working while your kids are home.
- Stay off social media. (ouch. But, truth.)
- Turn off messages on your phone and skype during a few hours focused.
- Work different hours if you can when they're home. Wake up a few hours early or work later at night if that works better on those unexpected days that you weren't planed for.
Most importantly, remember you're not superwoman.
You can't do it all.
You just can't.
If your kids are home sick, you may need to spend some time on the sofa snuggling instead of working for an hour or two, and in most cases your business will survive.
And if they're home and bouncing off the walls, go ahead and take a few minutes to bounce around with them, then settle them in for a movie. 🙂
Give yourself grace, remember that this is only for a short season, and enjoy the child God's given you and these precious moments today.
What other tips do you have for working as a stay-at-home-working mom? I'd love to hear them, leave a comment to share!
Want to learn more? See how I make a full time income as a stay at home mom.