I’ll be honest for a moment. It’s been far too long since I’ve written anything for Travel Foodie Mom. Why is that? Well, my strategies for working from home have sucked, majorly. You see, I started my master’s degree program in August, and before then it was summer, which every parent knows is a no-mans land for being productive. Rather than spread myself thinner than I already was, I put a few personal projects on hold and worked. It wasn’t an easy choice, but that’s what suited my son and me best at the time.
With that said, I’ve learned a lot over the past few months. I’ve come to understand how to manage my time a little more, how to designate days for client work, and ultimately created a successful strategy that can be applicable to any work from home parent, but more importantly, the single ones.
Know When to Say NO
This applies to two different facets. One being your kids and two being your clients. With your children, it’s easy to say, “yes I will sacrifice this time (during the day) to play and do kid stuff.” While it does serve your kids well it doesn’t serve you well. Instead of sacrificing precious work time every day or more than a handful of days per week, take the time to explain to your kids the “designated momming hours.” During “designated momming hours” you make time specifically for them and anytime that falls outside a window is for you. You cannot give your kids quality time if you’re run down working late nights all the time.
Referring back to our second “no” group, the clients, it’s not about telling them no to working on current projects or responsibilities, it’s more about knowing when to turn down extra projects and opportunities. This version of “no” is difficult for ambitious entrepreneurs to accept. I get it though! We all want to be as successful as possible, to look good in the eyes of our colleagues and peers, and be better than what people expect us to be. The problem with this though, we tend to push our family and ourselves to the side, preceding the promise we made to put ourselves and family first.
Be Open and Honest With Clients
During the summer, Fox is home with me 100% of the time. Having loud kids makes client calls nearly impossible; He’s a four-year-old dinosaur that doesn’t understand when it’s not okay to be a dinosaur – unless I tell him what’s going on. Talk with your kids and let them know you’re on a call and it’s quiet time. If your kids are extra rowdy, put a movie on for them to keep them distracted while you’re on the call. It’s not going to make you a horrible parent, trust me. Unfortunately (fortunately), though, kids will be kids and be loud, so have the first thing on your call be a warning to your client, “Hey Miss. Ma’am, I have my kids home for the summer, and you may hear a bit of background noise. I’m excited about our call today where we can discuss furthering X and Y, so let’s dive right in.”
Most people will be okay with the background noise. Giving the disclaimer is your way of saying you respect their time and in turn, because of that, they will make you the respect of understanding your situation. Now, there are situations where you just need to grab a sitter and head to a coffee shop to take the call, but when you’re open and honest with your clients you’ll be perfect!
Utilize a Calendar or Planner
I cannot stress organization enough. I’m not talking about having an entirely clean or picked up home (lord knows mine isn’t), I’m talking about a literal planner and calendar for you and your family. Use a planner to schedule out your day. Getting yourself into a habit of scheduling time for you, work, and family, will help you learn how to manage your time more organically down the road. The calendar? That’s for your kids. Write down when you have important calls so your kids can begin to prepare for quiet time too.
There’s ZERO harm him working your kids and work life together. It’s not about balance when you work from home. It’s about molding and morphing work and family together. Creating an example for your kids of how to be your person amidst chaos and crackers will give them the confidence to do the same in their life.
Utilize Friends and Family
If you are lucky enough to live close to family and friends, or even another work from home parent, do a trade when you can’t afford to tell a client, “hey I have kids home today.” The stress that’ll be lifted off your shoulders from time to time will be a godsend. Another strategy is to make a set day where your kid(s) go to Grandma’s house for the day. It’s a win-win honestly. Grandma gets alone time with the grandkids and you, in turn, have alone time to focus and reel in those projects.
Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late
I’m not a morning person. I haven’t been since I was pregnant. So, I stay up late to get extra work done and make deadlines. Before you say, “well just adjust your schedule to wake up early,” that doesn’t work for me. I’ve done that, and I still cannot get myself to roll out of bed at 6 am. So nightlife is my mompreneur time.
On the other side of the coin, if you cannot stay up late at night no matter what, then don’t, wake up early and pound out three or four hours of work before the rest of the house wakes up. Whichever way you decide to go, make sure it’s what you can handle. A stressed out mom = a stressed-out entrepreneur.
Force Yourself to Do It
Here’s the deal. Mom life, especially as a single mom, is the hardest thing ever. Throwing work, home-based responsibilities, bacon buying requirements, etc. just makes everything 10X harder than it would for a parenting team. Break out the coffee, and use these five strategies to do great. There will be times where you just don’t have the energy or the willpower to make yourself work, cook, clean – hell, order take-out.
On those days where life is a chaotic mess, embrace it and order take-out. I have a small budget set aside for take-out days. I never know when the chaos will hit my household, so my take-out fund is a savior when it’s 5:30 and I need to make Fox dinner – hello GrubHub and UberEats!
When it comes to working from home as a single parent, you have your work cut-out for you. The rewards of choosing this work-life though, are incredible. My final words are this: Don’t fear chaos, prepare for it, and conquer it when it’s throwing noodles in your hair. You can do this, and if you ever have an inkling of self-doubt, you hit me up on whatever social platform you use and I will pep-talk the crap out of you.
You got this mama.
If you’d like to read other strategies on how to work from home and raise a family I invite you to read this article from The Simple Dollar. Not every strategy any one blogger writes about working from home will work for everyone. Do your research and create a strategy that works best for you.