It’s been seven years since I first began working at home. Back in 2006, I did not have children and working from home was much simpler. Today, I am a work-at-home mom (WAHM) of two beautiful, energetic daughters (ages five and one), who is also fortunate to be employed, full-time, by a major U.S. corporation.
Every day is a constant juggling act of work and family, personal and professional, kids and colleagues. At a moment’s notice, I often have to go from employee to mom … without missing a beat.
SECRET CONFESSIONS OF A WAHM
There are days that I live in yoga pants and my favorite bathrobe. Right now, my hair is in a scrunchie and my last decent hair cut was in August. I have been on mute during conference calls while changing a diaper.
I can’t even tell you the last time I got my nails done, took a real lunch break or went out for happy hour with co-workers. Sometimes I’m jealous of my husband for going to an office. My wardrobe is horrendous and sometimes I think I’m losing my ability to network professionally, interact with adults and socialize in person with people that don’t have kids.
Now, please do not mistake this post as whining! It’s most definitely not. Though do realize that working at home — eight to ten hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, for the past seven years – has been an acquired skill, a blessing, and harder to do than you might initially think.
4 SECRETS TO MANAGING A WORK AT HOME LIFE
Have a dedicated work space. Having a home office to “go to” helps me separate my work life from home life. At the end of the day, I shut the door and “leave” work. If you have a home office, that’s great! If not, I recommend finding a quiet place away from the main “kid area” in which you can focus.
Get some help with the kids. Work-at-home moms WORK. I’m not watching HGTV and eating bon-bons all day. There is no way that I could do my job without someone else here to help me. Whether it’s a live-in nanny, part-time sitter or daycare, research your options to see which solution fits best with your family, job and finances.
Keep regular work hours. As hard as it may seem, keeping a routine and office hours are important to successfully working from home. There are days when I login early or work late, but mostly, I efficiently work a jam-packed, standard workday and accomplish more (I think) than I would if I was in the office.
Turn off the phone. I receive a lot of calls throughout the day and into the evening. After work hours, instead of risking that the phone will interrupt dinner or bedtime, I simply turn off the ringer. This no-brainer tip has been a big help.
ADVICE FROM ONE WAHM TO ANOTHER
Take each day – heck, each minute — one at a time! Sometimes it’s hard not to get overwhelmed when you’re trying to balance the best of BOTH worlds. You may feel underappreciated (at home or work) and wonder if you’re making all the right choices.
If you know another WAHM, she’s probably feeling the same things you are … reach out to her, swap stories and let each other vent! Though easier said than done, remember to take some time for you. I’ve found that a little Zumba or a trip to Target (sans kids) can do wonders for the mind and body!
Article by Shannon Smedstad
Shannon Smedstad spends her days leading HR social media and employment branding at GEICO and has more than 14 years of recruiting experience. In 2013, she was named a Talent Warrior by Glassdoor.com for social recruiting leadership and innovation. Outside of the daily grind, Shannon is a work@home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, traveling and her morning coffee. You can connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. (Opinions are her own and not those of her company.)
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