Working from home is something that most working mums dream about . You get to take your kids to school and pick them up again at the end of every day, attend school events, and be around in the school holidays all whilst earning a living.
For my first 8 years as a working mum I went to the officer every day to work for someone else. Having to ask for permission to go to school assemblies, apologise for having to take time off when she was sick, and stressing about how to find childcare for the endless school holidays.
Being a work from home mum and not having a boss to answer to certainly makes life easier but it can be tough to find a balance between your mum duties and your freelancer duties, after all there are still not enough hours in the day!
Here are some tips to help you balance life as a mum and a freelancer or business owner so that you still get time to spend with your family, after all that’s probably the reason you chose to work from home!
Get ready ‘for work’
Being able to stay in your pyjamas all day rather than getting ready for the office sounds amazing right? The problem with that is that if I let the husband take her to school and stay in my PJs while I work, then I find that I’m still not dressed by the afternoon as time has flown by. It might sound strange but if I get dressed and do my hair and makeup when I get up then I feel more ready to start work. Plus when the time for the school pickup creeps upon me I’m ready to go without having to have a last minute dash to sort myself out before heading to school.
Have a designated work space
Distractions is one of the biggest problems for any freelancer and work from home mum. If you sit down to work in the living room you will quickly notice jobs around the house that need doing, or get distracted by the TV. Having a home office or at least a desk where you can work without distractions can really help you to get more done. If you don’t have a designated work space of your own, you might find this article useful: Tips to create a home office that perfectly suits your requirements.
Create a working schedule
Whether you have kids at home while you work or have to fit your working day into school hours, it helps to have a schedule to work to. Set your working hours for times when you know you will be left alone to work and for the times of day that you work best. For many, working first thing in the morning is the most productive. If you have older kids, this allows you to be free when they get home from school. You may also choose to work when they have extra curricular clubs in the afternoons. If you have small children at home, maybe you decide to work while they nap, or catch up of an evening when they are in bed. However you choose to do it, make sure you set a ‘clocking off’ time so you put your laptop away and don’t lose your evenings.
Create a home schedule
As well as a schedule for your working hours, it can be a good idea to have set times for everything else such as the food shop or housework. It’s so easy to lose a few hours that could have been spent working (and earning money!) because you spent longer than intended tidying up the house or popping to the supermarket. I try to work until the afternoon school run and then any chores or jobs are done of an afternoon. I would also rather do an hour of house work in the evening so I can spend time with my family of an afternoon. And don’t forget to ask other family members to chip in with the housework if they aren’t already. See more housekeeping tips for working mums here.
It helps to have a list of priorities for the week so you know what you absolutely have to get done and what things can wait until another day. That way if you get to Friday and you’ve completed all of the urgent tasks on your to-do list then you might be able to treat yourself by finishing early for the weekend. You might want to use a physical planner to keep you organised, or you could try using some of these apps for freelancers to keep you on track.
Take time off
When you work for yourself it can be hard to switch off. There’s no one to pick up the work you don’t have time to do and you only get paid at the end of the month if you complete the work you have promised. But if you work 24/7 you’re not getting work-life balance that working for yourself can bring. The key is to take on enough to pay the bills but not too much that you don’t have any ‘time off’. It can be hard to say no and turn down money but try to work out how you will fit in family time, holidays and how you would cope if you need to take a sick day.
Whether it’s asking family to help with picking the kids up from school one day a week so you have an extra hour or two, or sharing the house work with your partner, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You wouldn’t have been able to do it all when you were going out to work every day, and you’re probably doing more hours now you are your own boss. Depending on your line of work, you may also choose to hire a virtual assistant to help you with some admin tasks or an accountant to take care of your invoicing and tax returns.
If you organise your freelancing hours and home life, set boundaries, and stay flexible you should be able to achieve a much better work-life balance than if you went out to work every day. Just remember to be realistic about how much you can get done and remember that it will probably take a few months to get into a routine.
If you have any more tips for balancing life as a work form home mum, feel free to leave them in the comments below.