5 Years of Working at Home: What I’ve Learned
Some days motherhood is like magic and other days I find myself standing in front of a sink full of dishes with utter chaos filling my ears and inside my head I’m screaming at the top of my lungs. Okay, I may have a flair for the dramatic, but seriously some days are just...heavy.
I’ve been a work-at-home mom for five years. In all respects I should be a seasoned professional at this whole balancing act, but the truth is that I struggle with it every day. When your personal life and your work life bleed into one another the lack of boundaries can lead to burn out. Fast. That’s because instead of being able to give my full attention to one task I’m giving 10% of my attention to 100 tasks and nothing ever really gets done. It’s frustrating and sometimes leaves me feeling defeated. Messy house means I’m a crappy wife. Bickering children means I’m a crappy mom. Unfinished projects at work means I’m a crappy employee. From all sides it can feel like failure, like I’m not enough. It’s easy to allow that mindset to spiral down into a negative place, but if there is one thing I have learned in my years on this work-from-home hussle it’s to see the signs.
I can tell when I’m getting to that point now. When I’m stretched too thin and everything I’m feeling is just under the surface threatening to pour out. First things first, BREATHE. This season of chaos is temporary. Raising tiny heathens will certainly earn you your stripes and when you’re in the trenches it feels like there might not be an end, but having older daughters helps me remember that they hit an age when they don’t really “need” us anymore and that hurts even more!!! I’ll say it again: This season is short. We will blink and our teetering toddlers will be graduating high school and flying the coop. It happens that fast. So when I’m feeling like I can’t do this for one more minute I remind myself to breathe and appreciate that this madness will one day transform into silence and that notion makes me cling to my children even harder.
My best weapon to combat burn out is self-care and it should be a tool in every mama‘s arsenal. It’s those little things that we do just for ourselves that bring us joy. Maybe it’s doing your nails or browsing in a store. Maybe it’s a ridiculously long bath or the largest glass of wine you can pour (bottle, it’s an entire bottle and I’m with you, girl). The point is that we often prioritize our own needs last and it’s important to take care of ourselves so that we are nurturing from a place of happiness and working from a place of fulfillment. We cannot pour from an empty cup for our family or our employer. They deserve the best of us and that starts with taking care of #1!
Lastly, time management is key. We shouldn’t be doing dishes when we should be filing reports and we can’t be typing emails when we’re changing diapers. There is a time and a place for each task in the day. I’ve found that I’m most productive when I schedule my days in blocks of time to breakup each category I need to give my attention to. That routine works for baby, it works for me, and I ACTUALLY feel productive at the end of the day. Most of my “work” happens during nap times, before little monster wakes up and after she goes to bed (like right now...it’s 9:03pm and here I am typing all the things because writing is my self-care). Household tasks are distributed between naps and I work this in by making it playful for the baby too. If I’m doing dishes then she’s on the floor playing with spoons. If I’m taking care of the animals around the homestead then she’s tagging along for some fresh air. Each part of my day is broken up into 2 hour blocks of time. It gives me an end time to look forward to when I need a break from what is infront of me and it helps me remain committed in that window of time to what I set out to do.
This might work for you too. Orrrrrr it might not. But what I do know is that if you’re here reading this then you probably felt like you were walking a tightrope and are looking for a lifeline. If someone hasn’t told you lately then allow me: You are selfless and dedicated and incredible! There’s no instructions manual for surviving a global pandemic trapped up in your house with a horde of angry children while you are expected to produce the same quality of work!!! We are operating in a completely foreign environment and for many people working from home was thrust upon them and they were totally unprepared for how freaking hard it can be. I get it. I‘m here with you. We got this.
Worst case scenario is the house is covered in laundry, everyone is eating tortilla chips for breakfast and your hair hasn’t been washed in a week. Best case scenario is you crushed the deadline on that project and you've juiced your meals for the entire week while your angel baby sleeps 12 hours a night....
Either way, we will find a way through. Because that’s what mom’s do. We persevere. So what’s my best work-at-home mom hack? Cut yourself some slack and celebrate what you HAVE accomplished. You’re a boss.
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