I started working from home 9 years ago when my first son was born. Since then, I’ve had two more children, and supported a husband through his schooling and in an 80+ hours a week career. Through a lot of trial and error, I finally feel confident when it comes to balancing a family life and working from home. I’m not perfect and I will never claim to be. However, I have figured out what works for me, for my family, and I’ve learned how to be happy ‘doing it all’. I hope my advice can help some of you other work from home moms and dads find success and happiness in your endeavors. Let’s begin:
Know your priorities
Before you begin, you have to consciously decide what’s most important to you.
This list will be different for everyone, and that’s okay. We all have different priorities, different beliefs, and different circumstances. What I want you to really think about is what is most important to you.
These are the things that are most important to me:
Family. My family’s needs have to come first. When my family is happy, I’m happy. It’s that simple.
Money. No one wants to say it, but let’s be honest, money is extremely important. If I’m not making money, my kids don’t get fed and won’t have a house to live in. Money is essential to living, it just is. I’m very open about this with my children too. They know that Mom works because that is how I provide for their needs, and in return they support me.
Religion. My life flows better when I’m making time to take care of my spiritual needs.
Health. If I don’t take care of myself, how can I take care of anyone else?
These aspects of my life are critical. Why is this important to know? If I’m too focused on one of these things and not giving enough attention to the other aspects, I end up feeling let down, disappointed, and unhappy. No one wants to feel that way. Make sure you know what’s important to you, so you can allocate the appropriate amount of time and energy to each of these different aspects. How do you do that?
Know Your Limits
I would love to live the Pinterest life where my house is decorated to perfection, I bake homemade bread daily, my kids are entertained every second with cool and unique ideas, and my husband gets my full attention 100% of the time. Is that realistic? I would say no, if you have found a way to do all of those things, I’d love to hear how.
I may not make homemade bread daily, but I try to make a homemade dinner 5 nights a week (even if it’s grilled cheese and fruit), so my family can have a meal around the table where we get to catch up. My kids aren’t entertained by me 100% of the time, but they certainly know how to entertain themselves, and the time we do spend together is more about the quality of the activity than the quantity.
Learn the importance of saying no. As humans, we can’t physically or emotionally do everything. It just isn’t possible. There will always be people and situations that steal your time. The earlier you learn how to say no to the things that aren’t important to you (ie. TV, internet surfing), the sooner you’ll be able to find a balance in your life.
I know that I have certain limits to what I can handle and what I can’t. If I focus 100% of my time and energy on my career, the rest of my life suffers. You have to be realistic in knowing how much time you can spend on each aspect of your life to be and feel successful. Which leads me to why a schedule is so important.
Create a Schedule
With kids, a husband, a career, and a home to manage, I have to have a schedule. Do I stick to it 100% of the time? Absolutely not, however, it gives me a good guide of what I need to get done during the day. Having a schedule allows me to feel far more productive than I do when I wing it. I am also a huge checklist person. I have checklists for everything: Grocery shopping, errands to run, bills to pay, daily work requirements, household chores, everything! There’s something so rewarding about checking off items on my to-do list.
Here’s an example of our family’s schedule.
Chores. Kids work on their daily chores while I work on mine. My kids are still fairly young, they have chore charts hanging up and while they work on theirs, I clean up the things they aren’t old enough to do. I have specific chores I do on specific days: Monday-Laundry, Tuesday-Sweep & Mop floors, Wednesday-Scrub Bathrooms… Why is this important? I don’t know about you, but I can’t focus on anything if my house is a mess. My day goes much better when it starts out with a clean house.
Exercise. Again, health is extremely important to me. I don’t have as much time as I would like to workout, but I dedicate 30-45 minutes, 5 days a week to working out. When I feel better about myself, life just seems better.
Get Ready. It’s important to me that my kids and I look presentable daily.
Work Time. At this point in the day, it’s still morning. I like to get the majority of my work done first thing in the morning when I’m not tired, my mind is alert and I’m feeling motivated. I set a specific amount of time for each day that I focus solely on work. The kids have learned to expect this and know that this time is for them to entertain themselves, play with friends, and have some screen time.
This is just an example of what our mornings typically look like. Obviously unexpected circumstances arise, but we’re pretty quick to get back on our schedule. Again, decide what’s important and make sure you allocate the appropriate amount of time to each item daily. You can’t be successful at anything in life if you’re not willing to dedicate time to it. We would all love to be in great shape without working out, but that just won’t happen.
It’s all about balance. Make sure that the time you’re spending on each item is time well spent. When I clean, I give myself 30 minutes to get as much done as possible. If I don’t set this time limit, I tend to get distracted and don’t get much done. I know that I have 30 minutes to work hard, and whatever doesn’t get done has to wait until later or even the next day.
Learn what rewards motivate you and take the time to enjoy them. For me, my reward is the fact that my kids never go to bed hungry. They always have enough food to eat, nice clothes to wear and a safe house to live in. That brings me more pride and satisfaction than almost anything else. When I get paid, I know that I earned that money, and I know why I worked so hard for it. Don’t let me fool you though, I also love the little luxuries in life and I make sure to budget for them so I don’t get burnt out. Know what you’re working for and make sure your family knows. You will appreciate it so much more and so will they.
If you have any great tips or advice on how to balance working from home and having a family, make sure to share them in the comment section below!