Being a work from home mom with a baby on the hip and a toddler wrangling at your feet is never easy – lesser so with a pandemic limiting other possible childcare.
As women, we’re known to take on all the roles, wear all the hats: in this article I’m going to show you why this is detrimental to your mental health and what you should be doing instead.
Working from home can be easier, I promise. Ready?
1) Get clear on your goals
Duh. I know, simple as it sounds, it’s one thing to have goals, yet another entirely to have a schedule that supports you and helps you achieve them.
When setting goals, differentiate between work goals and personal, then the motif for each goal.
Understanding the emotional push behind your goals will help you gain clarity and stay motivated in the long run.
2) Prep is your friend
The more ‘sticky’ moments in your day that you can avoid, the better. By sticky, I mean the grey areas in which you feel lost, overwhelmed and unsure what you should be doing.
Make it a priority to prep the meals for the week ahead to save precious mental energy (as well as time), set a day aside for laundry, get out outfits the night before.
Write down the household chores on paper and decide what you can manage and what you need to delegate to your partner or older kids.
While you don’t have to time block every hour of your day, you should have a good idea of how long tasks take you and plan accordingly.
3) One thing at a time
I came across this concept a while back and since it’s really stuck with me: our productivity increases greatly when we focus on one task at a time.
The issue is, there is this societal image of women as a multitasking super heroine.
Sweep that narrative aside and take note and follow the one task rule, trust me it will help you as a work from home mom.
Baby steps will get you there.
Oh, and word for the wise: try not to compare yourself to others you deem more successful than yourself, use them as inspiration and stay in your lane.
4) Break down your work
I want you to get a pen and paper, then write down in order your working tasks from the most to least important.
Prioritizing certain assignments will simplify your work process as well as more direction.
Once you’ve done this, pick one of these tasks and go one step further by breaking it down into different work sessions.
Commit to a maximum of three tabs open at once so that you stay focused on your work and use a timer to concentrate in short lapses of time.
5) Accept that you can’t do it all
Before you think that this is a defeatist attitude, hear me out.
We live in a super high-paced society in which many expectations are placed on the modern mom to take on heaps of responsibility whilst smiling politely in the process.
Now, there are seasons in life where you might feel like you have it all together and that’s great, roll with it!
Just remember that you’re no less of a mother for having days when you don’t feel up to it at all.
Your productivity does not equal your worth.
6) Separate work from parenting
You might be rolling your eyes at me here because seriously, who can separate online meetings from the kids’ chaos when you’re trapped with them 24/7?
I’m not saying you have to make miracles happen, but do your best to get your meeting prep, notes or any work you can get done off schedule, child-free.
It might mean sacrificing a few early (ish) mornings to get on top of things, but I guarantee that you’ll feel so much more available to your kids when it’s their turn – and you’ll lose some guilt in the process.
7) One to one time with kids
Perhaps after a long week of rocking it as a work from home mom, making weekend plans makes you cringe. All you want to do is have some free time with no one asking you where their affairs are or what’s for dinner.
I get that.
However, making just a small commitment to spend solo time with your kids (alternate weekends if you have multiple) will greatly improve your relationship and ultimately lead to fewer power battles.
(You know, the rolling-on-the-floor screaming kind of ones)
So what can you do during this one-on-one time?
First, let your child pick the activity of their choice, allocate as little as 15 minutes to do it together and put your phone down.
Of course, you might go over 15 minutes, I use this time frame as a starting point. Most importantly, always remember that quality over quantity.
Kids will always prefer a little focused time rather than a full day with you when your head is elsewhere.
8) Know your support dial
I kid you not, there will be times that you’ll need a best friend or two with you, holding your hand.
Remember way back when we used to keep a real tangible address book with our favourite contacts?
Draw a lesson from the past and keep that tradition going.
Nowadays, we’re always changing phones and contacts can get lost – having them at hand is a great reminder of who’s important to you.
Ideally, you want to have a number of besties on speed dial – the amount that you can count on one hand.
These are your girls that will be there for you and hold space when you need to vent when the going gets tough.
Seriously, never underestimate the power of good friends!
9) Don’t forget to pause
Even if you have a hectic schedule, it’s super important to press pause on your workload and take breaks.
As little as a five-minute reset can refresh your mind and have you more focused on your work as a result.
Granted, with little ones this is easier said than done, albeit a necessity for your sanity.
Lock yourself in the bathroom to escape from your kids if you have to, just do whatever you need for your mental health.
Use this time to take a few deep breaths, silent scream and come back to the present moment rather than thinking about the next task on your to-do list.
10) Give up the guilt
You might feel like you’re barely surviving sometimes, you might feel spread thin, but one thing’s for sure: you’re doing a great job.
Read that again if it didn’t sink in.
I mean, here you are making your career work all while parenting the future generation.
No, you won’t be flawless in all you do and hey, perfection is overrated anyway.
So let go of that guilt ‘cause you’re a boss, mama.
11) Know this is a season
While you may work from home your entire life, these years are the only time you’ll be doing so with your miniature assistants with you (and by that I mean your offspring).
I know that it’s hard and some days you might feel like quitting but trust me, one day you’ll be glad you didn’t.
One day you’ll be able to write an email uninterrupted, have a coffee in silence or finish a simple thought process.
One day there’ll be so much silence that it resonates throughout your home and you’ll wish those days back where you were up to your eyeballs.
One day you’ll ring your children, and they’ll be so busy with their own kids that they won’t take the phone.
As everything in life, this is a season you must traverse to evolve into a better version of you.
So be proud of yourself, don’t forget to live and laugh it off when it gets too much.