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Are you a work at home mom? Me too!
It’s a dream life, right?!
Well, if you work at home with little kids around, you know it’s not quite a dream. It can actually be really really hard.
But the fact is, it was my dream for a long time. For years, I worked full-time in a career that I didn’t love. I hated being away from my kids as much as I was. I longed to be home more often and I longed for a career that I really loved.
Now, I work at home doing TWO part-time gigs– blogging (here) and content writing for a local marketing company. I have to pinch myself most days because I get to work at home AND do what I love.
And even on the days when it’s really hard, I still wouldn’t change a thing. I get to work when and how I want, wear what I want, and cuddle with my kids whenever I feel like it. So, even on the hard days, I’m grateful to be a work-at-home mom.
Working at Home With Kids is NOT Easy
All that being said, there are still days that I’m pretty stressed out. There are days when I think I might lose my mind.
HOWEVER, I’ve developed some strategies to help me maintain sanity and be SUPER productive, despite distractions. And trust me, with three young kids, there are plenty of distractions.
Here are my tips to help you stay sane (and be crazy productive) as a work at home mom:
1. Get started early
Go ahead and roll your eyes at me, but I include “waking up early” on just about every list of suggestions I put together because it TRULY is a game-changer.
If you want to get stuff done as a mom, the morning is a wonderful time to focus and get some uninterrupted work in. If you feel like you’d be better off working at night, then that’s fine. Do what works for you. Maybe you need to experiment with both and find out when you’re most productive.
For me, mornings are the best time. I love getting my work done early. It makes me feel so accomplished and allows me to relax at night with my kids and husband.
2. Practice Self-Awareness and Take Breaks as Needed
If you worked at a traditional job, you’d most likely have breaks throughout your day. But sometimes, when we work for ourselves (especially when we’re really passionate about what we do), we forget to give ourselves breaks.
Practice self-awareness by doing mental and emotional check-ins with yourself. When you start to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or overly tired, it may be time for a break.
And don’t worry— Breaks will actually help you get MORE done, not less.
When you don’t take breaks, you’re less productive. As you get frustrated or overwhelmed, you get stuck. But if you take a step back and allow yourself some mental rest, you can return to your work with a refreshed mind and get SO MUCH MORE DONE!
By the way, if you haven’t heard about coffee naps yet, you need to check this out! Coffee naps are like MIRACLES for work-at-home moms!
3. Include Some Fun in Your Day
You work at home, so there should be some perks, right?
When you take your much-deserved breaks, include some fun! Have a spontaneous dance party in your kitchen. Pack up your lunch and take the kids to a park. Do whatever you want to do and make your kids feel like they are SO LUCKY that you work at home!
Whenever my kids start complaining about me working, I remind them that I could be at an office and they wouldn’t be able to stay home with me.
Then, I try to take this as a cue that they’re needing some attention from me, so I try to take a break to be with them for a while.
If you include some fun in each of your work-at-home days, your kids will be much happier– and so will you!
Check out this related post: How to Be a More Present Mom
4. Keeping Things Light-hearted When the Kids are Driving You Crazy
It’s inevitable. When you are a work at home mom, there are times when your kids will drive you crazy. You’ll have a project that you desperately want to finish and you’ll be interrupted a dozen times. You’ll have a great train of thought and you’ll be thrown off by someone asking for a snack.
First, accept that these things happen. It’s part of the work at home mom gig.
Next, when you find yourself getting frustrated, try keeping things light-hearted. Don’t just yell at your kids (especially if they aren’t actually doing anything wrong).
When you feel like you’re about to explode, take a deep breath. Then, try to respond in a fun way. For example, you could say something like “Heyyyyy, you know Mommy needs to work now. Now go play or I’m going to get you!”
The goal is to communicate with your child that you need to work, but also to make them smile. If you can avoid yelling or lashing out, you’ll both feel much better.
5. Communicate Expectations Clearly To Your Children
One of the best things you can do when you work at home is to communicate clearly with your kids about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
I tell my kids every morning if it’s a day that I need to work at home. I give them ideas for things they can do while I am working, and I get them excited about what we’ll do after I’m finished with my work.
I am very clear about my expectations. They know Mommy needs to do some work at home so that I don’t have to “go” to work. They understand when it’s time for them to play together, color, or watch a movie so that I can get a little work done.
(Sometimes, I call this “ignoring my children” but I never REALLY ignore them– Promise!)
Since my kids know what I’m doing when I’m on my laptop and they understand WHY I’m doing it, they are more willing to keep themselves busy until I’m done.
Now, if you have toddlers, this step isn’t going to work as well. I can try explaining to my 2-year-old that I need to get some work done, but she doesn’t care so much. With toddlers, you’re better off finding fun activities for them to do yourself or setting up a childproof safe zone that they can play independently in.
Also, don’t forget to take advantage of naptimes!
6. Eliminate Time-Wasters
If you feel like you don’t have enough time to get your work done and be a present mom, then it’s critical that you identify the time-wasters in your life.
I can almost guarantee you that you’re wasting time somewhere.
If you work on social media like most of us work-at-home moms do, you’re probably wasting some time there. (By the way, social media is designed to make you stay on it, so try to be very intentional about how you spend your time on there.)
Most of us have full-blown smartphone addictions. If you are on your phone constantly, check out this post about overcoming cell phone addiction.
You may be wasting time in other areas too.
One way to identify time wasters and keep yourself on track (with work and mom life) is to make yourself a schedule.
You don’t have to live and die by your schedule. But it’s helpful to have hours blocked out for work, housework, and mom life. Be sure to include some margin in your schedule to account for unknowns.
Having a set schedule will help you eliminate those pesky time-wasters and help you get more done.
Working at Home is a Privilege
Don’t forget how fortunate you are to be a work-at-home mom. There are so many moms are out there who wish they could stay home with their kids and still contribute to their household’s income (like me for years).
When you’re having a tough day, try to write down some things you’re grateful for. Take breaks as needed and practice some self-care. Remember, your kids need you to take good care of their mother.
Don’t forget to take days off. Hustle, be present, rest, repeat. You’re doing great, Momma.
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