“How do you get any work done?” is a common question I’m asked when people hear I work from home two days a week.
I could quickly give an answer when my daughter was only months old, sleeping 15 plus hours a day, and not crawling or walking. She would occasionally cry or whimper, but as long as she was fed, burped and changed, managing her, my work and house was a piece of German chocolate cake.
Now, if my two year-old is quiet and alone for more than a few minutes, there may be some unsolicited milk, crayon and Vaseline artwork on our microfiber couch or beige carpet.
Mothers who work from home juggle three jobs: employee, mother and homemaker, and doing all of these with a mobile preschooler is challenging, but doable. I’ve placed a few things into practice that I hope can assist you, whether your work at home is an assignment from an employer or the laundry.
- Create an outline for your day with scheduled, dedicated breaks with your child (15 minute breaks and a break for lunch) and naptime (for your child of course).
- Rip the outline to shreds and throw it in the trash can.
- Dig in the trash can to recover and piece together the ripped up outline. Although you can’t predict a day with a preschooler, planning for the day still helps.
- Make sure you have age-appropriate toys that assist your child in entertaining themselves.
- Embrace educational television in moderation. I know many think television for children is the antichrist, but certain programs can entertain and educate your children and give you some time to concentrate on work.
- Take advantage of time your child is sleeping. I schedule my work to begin before she wakes up and conference calls or work needing my undivided attention during her naptime. I also work “after hours” if necessary, particularly once my husband comes home from work and can care for our daughter.
- Get some help. See if there is a “Mommy’s Morning Out” at a local church or ask one of your friends who has some free time to take your child to the park for an hour or two. Maybe you can get someone to help you with household cleaning.
- Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself. Often, mothers who work from home feel they are neglecting their children when concentrating on their work, and they are neglecting their work when concentrating on their children. It is impossible to do and have it all, but I’m sure that you are doing all you can to be the best mother, employee and/or homemaker for your family.