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There are a lot of reasons why moms may choose to work from home. For me, it was the simple fact that I wanted to be home with our daughter. Not only that, but childcare here in San Diego is INSANE. Between the money and the lack of time with our daughter, it just made so much more sense for our family to have me working from home. Plus I love it, so why not?!
While working from home comes with so many great benefits for our family, it can be a bit stressful and challenging at times as well. I not only have the stay-at-home mom struggles, I also have the working mom struggles. And they’re all jumbled together to create one big struggle bus. But it doesn’t have to be that way. While some days are definitely more challenging than others, for the most part, I feel that Allie and I are thriving with our day-to-day routine right now.
I won’t lie and say it’s an easy thing to do, but I will share my top tips for thriving as a work-at-home mom!
Find A Great Planner…And Color Code It
I actually have two planners. The first is a Simplified Planner by Emily Ley (you can get $10 off your first planner here) and the second is a printable blog planner that I keep in a binder. I use my Simplified Planner to keep my personal life organized as well as school. I used to have blog work in here as well, but I needed something more structured to keep every aspect of my editorial calendar and marketing plan organized. So I downloaded this one off Etsy by GrafikaStudio. The pages aren’t in any particular order so I did have to strategically figure out a good order to put the pages in. But I did manage to turn it into an awesome planner that works super well for me!
After finding the planners that work best for me, I then color-coded EVERYTHING. Blue tends to be appointments and anything related to our personal lives. Black is holidays and general blogging tasks. Orange is anything sponsored so sponsored blog posts, social media posts, campaign due dates, etc. Red is bills and income. Purple is schoolwork. And then green is social media and email marketing tasks and planning. Lastly, if you’re curious, I use the Sharpie Art Fine Point Pens for all my color coding and organizing.
Have A Designated Play Space For Young Children
If you have a younger baby, then make sure to have a comfortable place for him/her to hang out in while you work. When Allie was younger, I used her DockATot for this which worked super well. If you have a baby that’s a bit more clingy then babywearing could be your best friend! Once she was sitting up, she had a blanket on the floor with toys. But when she started crawling, it was a whole new ballgame. We ended up buying a very large play yard that took up half of our living room. This allowed her to roam as she wanted but kept her contained so that I wasn’t having to worry about her getting into something she shouldn’t be. This worked super well as she started to learn how to walk as well.
Once she was walking flawlessly and became a toddler, I set her free from the play yard. She’s now 15 months and wanders the downstairs playing so it’s not as much of a concern now that she’s older. But when they’re younger, it’s so helpful to give them a designated space for them to be and play. At this point, Allie only comes to me when she needs something…or when she wants a hug. 🙂
Create A To Do List
To do lists are my best friend. For real. I have multiple to-do lists going each day. It’s a little excessive. But there’s a method behind the madness. To do lists are a great way to lay out everything you need to do that day. For me, 90% of my to-do list is blog-related tasks. 5% may be home-related tasks like washing everyone’s sheets or calling to schedule an appointment. And then the last 5% is school-related tasks. One thing that typically isn’t on my to-do list is cleaning tasks (aside from the sheets since those have to be done during the day – but I’ll explain why I don’t prioritize cleaning later on in this post).
Once I have my to-do list in front of me, I’m better able to see what has to get done and from there, I can mark the most important items on that list. Those items become my top priority and anything else that gets done is like a bonus. I never stress over those bonus items. Bonus items can always be moved to tomorrow’s to-do list. My focus is on things that have to be done that day.
Set Office Hours
If you’re a work-at-home mom then chances are your children are probably part of the reason you chose that career path. Or at least that was a huge reason for me. I wanted as much time with our daughter as I could get. So I work my butt off on this blog to bring in the income we need for us to afford for me to work from home. But one of the problems with working from home is that it can sometimes be challenging to separate home life from work life. Understandable considering you’re literally bringing your work into your home. Because of this, it’s important to know when to take breaks.
I work a lot throughout the morning when Allie is more likely to have the patience to entertain herself. I then work 10x harder during nap time and take an extended break in the afternoon when she wakes up. The afternoon is when I spend the most time with her whether it’s going for a walk, spending time at the park, going to the pool, etc. I always make it a priority to spend some much needed time with her. Then after she goes to bed, I use that time to finish up all miscellaneous tasks I didn’t get to during the day. The office officially closes at 8 pm.
Focus On Self Care
Speaking of taking breaks, self-care is a big deal as well. It can be super easy to feel overwhelmed when working from home and it’s even more overwhelming if you’re also trying to earn a degree on top of it all. While taking breaks is always a good idea, it’s important to use those breaks to your advantage. If you’re out of the office, but still glued to your smartphone then it’s not going to feel like much of a break. If you’re unplugged then fully unplug.
Use your break time to focus on family or your marriage. Go for a long run or treat yourself to a pedicure. Have a coffee date with a friend or sit on a beach by yourself soaking up the silence and alone time. Whatever it may be, use this time to really focus on you and your mental health. I promise you’ll return feeling so much more refreshed.
Get Into A Good Routine
Our schedule is crucial. It has the ability to be flexible when needed, but overall, each day follows the same general routine. And it helps so much! Our day typically goes like this:
7 am – Wake up and get Allie dressed and ready for the day.
7:30 am – Make and feed Allie breakfast; I’ll typically respond to some emails and/or straighten up the kitchen during this time.
8 am – Morning run – we try to go on a 5-mile run every morning. If this doesn’t happen, then I’ll use this time to get dressed and settle in at my desk.
9:30 am – Assuming I went on my run, this is about when I’ll settle into my desk and begin my work. I’ll also eat my breakfast during this time as well. Allie will watch movies and/or play independently while I get some work done.
11 am – Lunch! I break away from my computer at this time and make myself and Allie some lunch. About once a week we’ll run out to get something more “fancy”, but most times we eat something more simple at home.
11:30 am – Once Allie is done eating, she goes down for her nap. Typically she sleeps a good 2.5-3 hours so this gives me a very good chunk of time to get some blog work done.
2 pm – This is usually when Allie wakes up so the rest of day the day consists of a lot of one-on-one time with her. This can be playing around the house, going to the park, exploring the city, going for a walk, grabbing a coffee, running errands, etc. Most times I try to make whatever activity we’re doing be something that’s outside the home. But either way, all my work is done by 2 pm so that I can have time with her in the afternoon.
5 pm – Zack comes home around 5 so I usually take advantage of his presence and get some last minute blog work done before making dinner.
6 pm – Dinnertime and transition into her bedtime routine.
6:30 pm – Allie goes to bed and I work on schoolwork. As mentioned earlier, I am currently earning my masters degree in digital marketing. So I use this time to get homework done.
8 pm – All work is DONE. From here, I relax by reading, catching up on Youtube, watching Netflix with Zack, taking a bath, etc. We’re usually in bed by 9 pm and asleep by 10 pm!
While each day can be a bit different, this is the general breakdown of our day and it works super well for us!
Related: Our Toddler Morning Routing
While the above schedule works so well for us, you absolutely need to be flexible when you’re a work-at-home mom and/or earning a degree with young children in the home. I very rarely leave things to the last minute because if something comes up, for example like Allie not napping long or her having a tantrum day, then I’m completely screwed and the stress greatly increases. So if I have something due Thursday then I plan to get it done on Monday or Tuesday. That way if something comes up then I have a couple of extra days to get it done.
Build Your Tribe
Your tribe is crucial. Currently, my tribe is Zack, but for others, it may include friends and family as well. These are your #1 supporters and the people you rely on most for help when needed. If you need an afternoon to yourself to really pump out some blog content or get a week’s worth of schoolwork done then call in a tribe member and get to work! Just a couple weekends ago, I spent 5 HOURS at Starbucks catching up on an insane amount of schoolwork (I had gotten a bit behind…oops). I had left when Allie went down for her nap and didn’t get home until dinnertime. Zack was awesome at making sure everything at home was taken care of so I could get as much work done as possible. He even tackles a good majority of the cleaning in the home (this is why I don’t prioritize cleaning) so that it’s one less thing on my plate during the day. So never feel bad for leaning on your significant other or friends and family.
Take Naps And/Or Sleep In When Needed
I’m not a big napper. But recently I’ve been taking advantage of having Zack home on weekends so I try to sleep in in the morning whenever possible. He’ll wake up with Allie sometime between 6 and 7 am and I’ll stay in bed until sometime between 9 and 10 am. It’s lovely! And it helps so much in ensuring I wake up feeling refreshed. We do have an awesome schedule during the week and Allie is fully sleep trained, but I’m still feeling super exhausted by the time Friday rolls around. So sleeping in a day or two is awesome.