Whoever said that working at home is easy is clueless. Sure, work-at-home mums like me have time on our hands but it’s certainly not a walk in the park. It’s more like running around a park with screaming kids, Frisbees being thrown at you from all directions and dogs biting your ankles.
The past few weeks during the Easter holidays, I’ve had my moments when I have sat down at my desk and I have tried to work on some urgent stuff. I couldn’t because of constant interruptions. It has been absolutely impossible. Fellow work-at-home mums and other home based professionals know what I mean—phone calls, a constant flow of visitors, play dates and my gorgeous daughter demanding for my attention, it feels like a million things all at once.
Sometimes, I can’t keep my temper in check and I lose it. Let’s face it, I am only human. But immediately after I rant and rave, I just feel so guilty, knowing I could have been more patient.
Balancing family and work life is not easy but with a little help, it can be managed. Here are some tips for guilt-ridden work-at-home mums:
1. Involve your child.
Take your laptop and do your work in the garden or veranda while your child is playing. This gives you the opportunity to watch and interact with your child while doing some work. Mums who are into arts and crafts can also ask their kids to join in. While mum is doing her own projects, her kids can make their own little projects, at the same time. Not only are you accomplishing something for work, you are also bonding with your children.
2. Schedule time-outs.
If you’re taking a break, make sure it coincides with your child’s schedule like meal or play times. This allows you to spend time with your kids without feeling guilty about work. If you’re running errands, bring your child along and take the opportunity to connect. Get out and do the grocery shopping together. Your child can help pick out ingredients and you can both cook something delicious together for the whole family. Mind you the clean up afterwards is not much fun. My daughter adores helping me in the kitchen.
3. Seek your husband’s help.
Even a Superwoman like you needs help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to ask for it from your husband. If you’re just swamped with work and can’t spare a minute, ask Dad to pitch in and help. This will give you a break and cut you some slack to attend to that urgent email.
4. Buy educational books and toys.
It’s never a good idea to distract your kids by making them watch TV although I must admit I have done this in the past. While you’re busy working, you can give educational toys and books to your kids to keep them occupied. Books are great to develop children’s love for learning and educational toys help in cultivating creativity and imagination. Set up a little desk and chair in your office and let your child do their “work”. My daughter loves this.
5. Learn to drop everything.
There will be moments that you must realize that you need to drop everything for your family. In times of emergencies like a health crisis or when your child needs a ride home. Family milestones are equally important and you should never miss those special moments. Soccer games, ballet recitals, birthdays, swimming lessons, sports carnivals, tuck shop duty – this is the stuff that should always take priority.
When things get a little too hectic and you feel you can’t afford any more distractions, stop what you’re doing and breathe deeply. Stretch your patience a little longer and remember why you chose to be a work-at-home mum or home based worker and not a corporate slave chained to a desk from 9 to 5 with a 2 hour commute.
As a home based worker, how do you cope with constant interruptions? Would love to hear your strategies.