I have been working from home as a freelance writer for 4.5 years. Although I am thankful to have been able to do it for this long, I definitely wish that I’d had someone back then who would take me under their wings. It would have been really nice (and very helpful) to have someone teach me all there is to know about working from home so that I didn’t have such a bumpy road. However, I operate by the general belief that most things that happen in your life can help you to grow in one way or another. I choose to believe that by me traveling the bumpy roads, I can help other people navigate their journeys a bit more smoothly.
With that being said, I wanted to take a few minutes today to share a few tips for those moms who might be considering working from home or who have just gotten started. I hope that it is helpful.
Establish a Routine
Listen, I fought this one. For years. I thought that part of the beauty of working from home was that I could be 100% flexible. Wrong! I have found that I actually need SOME kind of routine in my life. Honestly, I am not the the type to have my day scheduled down to the minute. That just doesn’t work for me. However, what HAS been working for me is a game that my friend, Michelle, and I play. We are both huge Harry Potter fans. In Pottermore, I was sorted into Gryffindor. She is in Hufflepuff. Both of us are writers (I am a freelance writer and she has published several awesome books). Both of us also felt like we needed to be more consistent in a few areas of our lives. Very much in the fashion of Mary Poppins (“in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find that fun and…snap!…the job’s a game”), we turned our daily tasks into a game. Every task that we need to do on a regular basis is worth a certain amount of “House Points” (see what we did there, fellow Potterheads?) The person with the most points at the end of the month is awarded the House Cup. Last month, Hufflepuff won the House Cup. This month…who knows? The game and friendly competition have gotten me excited about doing something productive every single day.
Anyways, you get the point, right? Have a routine that enables you to accomplish all of those important things that you need to do on a regular basis.
One thing that I struggle with a lot is setting boundaries. Of course, part of that deals with setting boundaries for yourself. However, a major thing when you make the transition to working from home is setting boundaries with other people. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to remind people that just because I am at home does not mean that I am available to be at every one’s beck and call. I definitely recommend letting your friends and family know the days and time frames that you are not available for visits, errands, or whatever else it is that they decide they need you for. Establish those boundaries as soon as possible and do your best to enforce them.
Get Your Family on Board
Speaking of family, you should also take the time to sit your immediate family down one day and let them know the plan. Let them know that there will be times when you are at home with them yet you won’t be able to drop everything for them. If you have small kids, it is definitely important that you get them to understand that “mommy is at work when she goes in her office” (or wherever it is that you decide to work). Come up with some kind of system that lets everyone know when you are “at work” and when you are available. It can already be hard separating work and family in your own mind, so having your family on board makes things a bit easier.
Set Up an Office Space
This is probably a good time to mention that you should definitely have a dedicated office space. If you have an entire room you can devote to business, that would be great. Personally, I converted a bedroom into my office. It gives me the privacy (and quiet) that I need. However, even if you don’t have an “extra” room, you should have some space in your house that is your work area. When you go there, you are ‘at work’. It helps you to establish those boundaries a bit more readily.
Learn to Say “No”
One thing that I am still learning is the art of saying “no” to things that I either do not want to do or that do not serve me or my goals. I still struggle with it, to be honest. Especially with family. However, it has become easier to say “no” to things that I feel would set me back or take away my time or energy for no good purpose. Sometimes, to be honest, I even have to say “no” to myself, lol.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Last, but not least, you should make sure that you make time to take care of yourself. Again, this is something that I am still working on. I neglected it for a really long time and wish that I had made myself more of a priority sooner. But we all make mistakes, right? Take time regularly to rest. I know that a lot of entrepreneurs say that you can rest when you die, but I disagree with that. If I did not get any rest, I would be no good as a parent or as a human being. I’d be more like a zombie. An angry, sleep-deprived zombie. I am not about that ‘mombie’ life and I daresay that my son is not either. Part of my self-care includes bubble baths, lots of books, plenty of meditation, loads of music, a bunch of random dancing, and as many playdates as I can manage during the week (because we all know moms love playdates just as much as the kids). However, the main thing is just making time to do things that you enjoy. Notice I said making time, not finding time. Let’s face it, no one FINDS time to do things they enjoy. You gotta MAKE that ish a priority.
Ok, so those are some of my top tips for new WAHMs. Hope it helps!