Balancing home and work demands is one of the trickiest tightropes to walk, and sometimes it seems that work at home mums can never get it right no matter what they do.
But although balancing home and work can sometimes be tricky, it is achievable. After all, that is why most people want to work from home in the first place.
Even if you work for yourself as an entrepreneur, you’ll still have a boss. Instead of it being an actual employer, it will be your customers or your bank manager. And no matter how much your family sympathize, understand and support you, there are still going to be plenty of occasions when your kids or your partner just don’t want to accept that they can’t always come first.
In this respect, work at home mums in Australia and New Zealand are no different to work at home mums anywhere in the world. If you don’t actually leave the door in order to go out to work, in their heart of hearts, many people – even your close family who should know better – don’t think you have a real job.
It’s especially hard of course when young kids are involved. You can’t expect a toddler to very easily understand why mum can’t be there for them every minute of the live long day (We also have some tips for working at home with children). Everyone in your life deserves their share of your attention, and you deserve to have time and space to do your work. So that’s why you need strategies and routines which will prevent you from going completely mad as you try to keep all the plates spinning and are balancing work and home.
The main trick to balancing work and home is that you have a supportive family. If you have a partner, then it’s ideal if they are fully on board with the idea that you work from home. It will help a lot if you can create a schedule which you both agree which shows how you plan to use your time. Working from home is flexible, but only to an extent. It may not matter exactly when you do your work, but work you must. There is a danger that you end up squeezing your job into inconvenient times of the day or night, as you prioritize your family’s needs. Your partner needs to understand that, just because you’re home doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing and they still need to step up, for example taking care of the kids or doing housework, just as if your were working out of the home.
The WAHM schedule should be written down so that everyone understands it. For example, it might be that you are especially busy early in the morning as you respond to messages which have come in overnight. The family needs to know that this is your work time, that there is a reason that you have your nose fixed to the computer and can barely say good morning. Make up for this by, for example, being very available to them when they come in from work or school.
In your schedule, aim for four sorts of time, and try to block off the week so that everything gets more or less satisfied.
The four are:
- Family time – focus on morning routines, mealtimes, bedtime and some weekend fun time together
- Work time – work out when you absolutely must be working, and for how long, and fit other things around it
- Household time – time spent on activities that you need to do to maintain the home, such as cleaning and cooking. We’re not talking House Beautiful here, but you won’t be popular if you forget to buy toilet paper (and it was scheduled as your job to do it.)
- You time – this is important and overlooked. Even if it’s just half an hour a day, find space to do something for yourself; have a cup of coffee and watch a TV show, take a relaxing shower, go for a run, whatever helps you relax and recharge.
Balancing home and work will never be easy, but being conscious of the issue and planning your time will go a long way towards ensuring that you don’t end up a work at home mom who’s a burned out wreck.