Ah…work / life balance…that very elusive beast. It’s hard to find at the best of times. But imagine how tricky this balancing act can be when your work space and life space are the same space; when the device you use to upload photos of your kids is the same one you use to check your work e-mails; when you can do your work in bed after you’ve showered and put the kids to sleep.
I love my role as a work at home mum (WAHM). But, it has its challenges. Here’s how I am working on finding my balance.
One of my work goals was to actually get my certification - I did it!
Step 1: Set some work goals. I have yearly goals, monthly goals and weekly goals. I also split my goals between the different aspects of my business so I have doula goals, hypnobirthing goals, writing goals and birth activism goals. Make sure you write your goals down – until you write it down it’s not a goal but just a dream. Putting together a vision board can be a very worthwhile activity to help with clarifying and remember your goals and is an activity the kids can help with.
Step 2: Set some family goals. Again – yearly, monthly and weekly. These might involve planning a big holiday, getting to the beach or taking the kids to granny’s house for lunch. These include relationship goals – trust me when I say that working until midnight, simply because “it’s right there” is not going to do your relationship any favours. Aim for sex, or siting down to watch a TV show together, or sharing a drink and a chat a certain number of times per week.
Step 3: Set some personal / life goals. Yep – yearly, monthly and weekly. These could include things like health and fitness goals, gardening, reading, movies all the things that make you, you. You know…the you that you were before you had to do 3.6billion loads of washing each week and keep a few little people alive every day in between teleconferences, marketing strategies, lesson plans and continuous learning. My life goals this year are pretty modest – go to personal training once per week and perhaps read a couple of books that are neither work related nor children’s books. So far I’m on track!
We got a year pass to some local zoos - ensuring that we have no excuse not to meet our family goals of spending at least one weekend per month doing "touristy" things!
Next you need to set some ground rules. Mine are:
No children in my office.
No eating meals in my office (snacks, coffee and wine are fine though!)
Always have a notepad on hand. Always! (It helps if you also have a pen…)
The office must have a closing time. Mine is 7.30 which is when my kids go to bed.
No working in bed. Candy crush fine, work not.
Working while watching a movie with your partner is also not considered fine. Candy crush is also out in this instance. Making notes in your notepad is okay if you must…and if you have small children who have stolen half your brain cells…then yes this is a must.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that “mums don’t get sick days” I wouldn’t need to work from home. Ever again. Seriously – why on earth don’t mums get sick days? If you are a mum, especially if you are a WAHM, I want you to go and work out a plan for sick days. Right now. This is important.
My plan for sick days was “just muddle through and hope we’re all alive at the end”. Until one day I actually got sick. Like, REALLY sick. So sick that I took Ms 3 to daycare and by the time I got home I could barely crawl into bed (Ms 3’s bed…Didn’t want to run the risk of throwing up on mine!!). Problem: I still had Mr 1 and a half to take care of. Luckily he is still breastfed. So he just climbed up over me to feed as necessary. By 11 am when he fell asleep, I realised that this wasn’t going to work for the entire day. I called my partner and told him he needed to come home. He arrived home just as the dude was getting up from his nap. Dude met him at the front door, grabbed his hand and pulled him into the kitchen. Yeah – I kinda wish I’d made the call earlier!
Next day I chatted to my parents about the possibility of using them to look after the kids if I’m sick. They said that would be very sensible and that they would even come over and collect them if I was too sick to drive. Since putting a plan in place, I haven’t been sick again.
Baking with my little girl is a great way to spend time!
Working from home has some great benefits and some big challenges. Be prepared. Have a plan. Know the challenges so that you can face and overcome them. Remember that you are still a person – not just “mum” and not just “director of the company” but a real human being, with real human being needs. Be kind – to yourself, your children, your partner and your clients.