My first child was a baby when I began working from home. I imagined that working from home would be such a joy because I would spend every waking hour with my little one. I would not miss out on his first words, his first steps, or any of those important moments that only come once in a lifetime. This proved to be mostly true.
Deciding to work from home was one of the best choices I ever made. Yet, there is a lot about working from home that I was not prepared for.
I was not prepared for raising my kids from behind a computer screen.
I was not prepared for the times that I would have to decide between giving my kids the attention they needed or meeting a deadline that was too close for comfort.
I was not prepared for the general chaos: the messy house, the noise and distractions, or the constant barrage of demands both from my clients and my children.
I was not prepared for the late nights and early mornings, just so I could get a few hours of quiet work time.
I was not prepared for having next to no time for friends or distant family, much less myself because I spent every moment of my free time working.
I was juggling so many things, but I was not doing any of those things very well. The work was decent enough to keep my clients happy, but I was capable of better under different circumstances.
Worst of all was the mom guilt, and I had reasons for it.
My kids were not as happy as they could be. They felt rushed each time I hurried us through the next daily task so that I could get back to work. They felt hurt after approaching me with something they excitedly wanted to show me, but I was too busy to really hear them and only offered a half-hearted, “that’s great, honey. Mom’s busy.” They felt ashamed when I yelled at them instead of getting up from my computer and handling the disciplinary issue in the right way.
Where was that happy home that I imagined at the start? Did I lose sight of the reasons I began working from home in the first place? I knew that other moms worked from home, and they seemed to handle it all so easily.
What was I doing wrong?
If you can relate, then please know that you are not the only one who falls short of being the super mom you wanted to be. Most importantly, there is hope. You CAN do this!
I want to share one small thing that I started doing, and this one change made a huge difference in my home.
Here it is:
I start and end each day with my kids—and most importantly—on a positive note.
Before I get into what we do in my home, I know that each home is different. Every kid is different. Your plan will also depend on the age of your kids. As of now, I have three boys under the age of ten. Find what works for you. The important thing is that you spend quality time together.
Generally, this is what our mornings and evenings look like:
After the kids wake up, we eat breakfast together. Next, we read a book or watch a children’s story on the internet. We talk about our day. We talk about our responsibilities for that day, and if we have something fun planned, we talk about that too. This takes about one hour, and it helps to set the mood for the entire day.
In the evenings, we eat dinner together at the dining room table. After the kids are washed up, we spend an hour or so doing something fun. Sometimes we play a game or watch a movie. If the day was particularly busy, then we snuggle up with a bedtime story and a quick chat. The kids have a chance to talk about anything that happened that day, good or bad, so that no one goes to bed without feeling valued and heard.
Doing this achieves a few things:
- The kids know that they are priority. Setting time aside that is just for the kids shows them that they are what matters most to me in this world. Now when my little guys want to play, I remind them that even though mom has to work, I can’t wait for our fun time later. I express excitement about that planned time. They see that excitement and they know that I want to be with them just as much as they want to be with me.
- My work time is respected. One thing I noticed right away was the general decrease in demands from my kids during working hours. No longer starved for my attention, they were able to entertain themselves long enough for me to get some work done (I also work in short spirts, no longer than two hours at a time).
- Everyone is heard. Kids have so much to say, and everything is such a big deal to them. They want to share their interests and the things that excite them. They want me to be a part of their world. They also need to feel safe coming to me with their problems, even the small stuff, because to them all things are big and scary without an adult around to help.
- We get a fresh start. No family is perfect, but we can learn to forgive and start again by taking time to deal with our mistakes and remember that we love each other no matter what.
Want to know the best part?
Everyone is much HAPPIER!
If you’re like many WAH parents, you might have lost sight of the reasons you started working from home in the first place, especially if you are working hard just to scrape together the necessities of life. It’s not too late to do some little things that can make a BIG difference, and this is one thing I have found that really works.
There is even more.
There are so many small, yet highly impactful things we can do as work-from-home parents that will help create a happier, healthier, and well-balanced home. If you are interested in things like positive parenting, creating a work-from-home schedule, homeschooling while working from home, and other tidbits I have picked up along the way, stay tuned. Work-at-home parents need support, and there are veterans out there who are happy to help.