My 5 tips for work at home moms will have you enjoying your day and being more productive if you are a homeschool mom or have younger kids at home with you all day.
Being work at home mom can go from dream to nightmare real quick. You have a client deadline, the kids are giving killing each other their best shot, and suddenly it is 4:00 and you haven’t even thought about dinner yet. Before you let more days spiral out of control here are my top tips for work at home moms that will help you be more productive and less stressed during your day. ( hint it’s not about managing motherhood and work separately, it’s about harmonizing them.)
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Tip 1: It all starts the night before
Look at your work tasks the night before and choose three things that absolutely have to get done that day. If there something that has a deadline for tomorrow I would choose to do that this evening. Leaving a deadline on a day when your kids are home anything can happen. You don’t want to risk it. Next, choose those top three tasks that you really want to get done tomorrow that will move your business forward. Write those down your calendar. Don’t be tempted to add more. If you have extra time you can add more during the day. And you want to leave room for the unexpected, because you know he’s showing his face at some point.
Tip 2: Write down what you have planned for the kids the next day.
This can be as loosey-goosey or as strict as you like- whatever works for you. I like to make a basic plan of AM and Afternoon activities. You can ruin a work at home mom’s day REAL fast having no idea what to do with the kids that day. I find that if I schedule in a few activities that we do together, they are much happier and content chilling on their own afterward for a bit of time (this pops back up in tip 5!) Plus, I don’t feel bad when I take work breaks because I feel like the kids and my work aren’t fighting for attention.
Tip 3: Have a plan for dinner!
I cannot stress the importance of this tip for work at home moms. I meal plan every Sunday night and make a menu for the week and then I shop for it. I’m not the best at pre-prepping food- washing, chopping etc.- I’d like to be but I just don’t ever seem to do it. But I do schedule meals that are easy to make relatively healthy for the week. Sometimes I give myself a break with pizza and take out- usually pizza Friday and take out either another weekday, or I alternate between take- out and pizza night on different weeks and then I usually have a leftover dinner one night so really it’s only five meals and I am making each week.
When I know I have my meals planned I can make sure I have everything in the morning ready to go and if I need to I can pop ingredients in the slow cooker, AKA mommy’s sous chef, and it just makes life around 4 o’clock so much easier.
Tip 4: Take care of your house tasks in the morning.
This is another biggie for me. I like to do these right after breakfast. I finish up breakfast with the kids and let the kids finish eating and have a little bit of free time before everybody gets stressed to start the day while I do these chores. These house chores can be anything you feel needs to be done every day. For me, this absolutely means emptying the dishwasher that was run the night before after dinner, putting all the dishes in the dishwasher that are in the sink from breakfast in the dishwasher, wiping down the kitchen counters, throwing in a load of laundry, wiping down the bathroom and making the beds.
It usually takes me about 15-20 minutes to buzz through these. Each week I usually have an extra task I throw in there that I sometimes do at the end of the day, but those are my top morning to tasks that when they are taken care of I feel like I’m a clean space and I can work and take care of the kids. It just feels really good in my brain space.
Tip 5: Introducing, Ninja work.
Now I am going to introduce you to a technique I like to call ninja work. You may all have your own version of this, here’s how mine goes. I used to have this idea in my head that if I planned an activity out for my kids and set them up with that I would have a set amount of time to work. This may work for some people, but it has not worked for me.
Believe it or not, this “set planned work time” has actually worked in the reverse. I have talked to a lot of work at home moms who say the same exact thing. It usually goes something like this: You set your kids up with an activity. You think said activity will take about 20 minutes to half an hour for them to complete. You are ready to get a complete work task finished in this time.
But, what happens more often than not looks more like this: your kids half-ass do an activity and then ask you 500 questions, need a snack, and must go outside immediately. Oh and I forgot to mention you completed zero tasks.
This is where the next tip for work at home moms comes in. Ninja work is here to save the day. Here’s how it goes. Instead of setting them up for me to work, I observe my kids and see where they are at in the day. At some points they are very happy playing with each other, or involved in a task individually, or watching a show or playing a game on their iPads- it doesn’t matter what, I can just tell they are engaged. I also like to make sure they have just eaten. When I see this sweet spot I just sit on my desk, I open my computer, I look at my top three tasks for the day (that I have written down the night before), and then begin to do a task. This has always given me at least 20 minutes to half an hour of solid work.
I don’t know if kids instinctually need to ask a question when I say I have to do some work or not, but when I just do it unannounced, they don’t seem to notice or have a burning urge to interrupt. I think the key is in your observing your kids. Instead of preparing them to be ready for mom to do some work, you can observe and pretty much know that they are in a place where you can give work a green light for a few. This is really a big part of harmonizing work and motherhood rather than “managing” them as two separate parts.
Tip 6: Create an evening clock for you and your kids to follow.
In its simple form, this is an analog clock that you color code to time block different parts of your day. Ours is color-blocked from 4 PM until 8 PM. Ours includes time blocks for make dinner (for me, and free time for the kids) eat dinner, cleanup, family time, bath and shower time, kids’ free time/bedtime snack, and then our bedtime routine. This helps everyone to stay on track- parents and kids included- and makes for a much smoother evening and morning. Having a clock that even younger, pre-reading kids can follow is a great way to incorporate individual accountability for each family member.
As a work at home and homeschool mom I often remind my kiddos that in order for our family unit to function as it does, everyone must work together to make sure everyone’s needs are met. Here is a good example of a color-blocked time clock- I bought this simple clock to use for this.
I hope these 6 tips for work at home moms that I swear by as a work at home and homeschool mom will help you have smoother and more harmonized days. Let me know if you try any of these and if they work for you. I’d love to hear any tips you have found that really work for you as well!