“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets planning”Thomas Edison
I love being a work-from-home parent. If you have the opportunity, it is a truly fulfilling experience.
It is also true that planning is the key to success, especially for parents, and I was not as good at keeping a work-from-home schedule as I thought I would be.
I naturally love to plan things. I like to know what to expect because this provides a sense of security and control—no matter how much of an illusion that control might be.
So, like most work-from-home parents, when I first set out to create my schedule, I planned every detail. Every. Single. Detail.
My whole day was mapped out on a lovely spreadsheet, beginning with my wake up time and ending with my bedtime—and nearly every minute in-between. I had mealtimes set and my menu planned. I set aside time for every household chore, and of course, I had set working hours.
My kids had a schedule too, complete with clipart photos for fun (overkill, I know 😊).
They had certain times they could play freely, certain times they could watch television and certain times for learning activities. Their whole day revolved around my well-planned to-do list and specific working hours.
I left no stone unturned. I was determined to get everything done every day without fail.
Well, I failed. I failed big time.
I soon learned that micromanaging every minute of my day was not at all reasonable, especially with kids at home. All I did was set myself and my children up for defeat, and I became so frustrated that I abandoned the schedule altogether.
I thought that maybe a free-range mindset would work better.
This did not go so well. Shocker, right? I’ll spare you the messy details. I’m sure you can imagine.
What can I say? I am an extreme person. Thankfully, I can usually find my way to a healthier middle ground, and that is just what I did.
After some trial and error, I finally created a schedule that is organized and reasonable.
Do you want to know how? I…
I know everyone is not like this, but I am prone to taking on way too much. Once I finally came to terms with my limitations, one of the first things I did was write down a list of priorities.
Work-from-home Schedule for Parents Tip #1
What are your must-dos for every day—and not just in terms of work—but in terms of creating a well-balanced life for yourself and your children?
Keep Things Basic
Once I had my priorities straight, I created a basic schedule for myself and my children. My schedule includes a set of tasks that I want to be completed during the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. I also write down important dates and deadlines in a daily planner.
My kids liked having the picture schedule, so we created a new one. This time, I explained that the purpose was to provide a general idea of what we should be doing every day, and it is okay if we go off the rails from time to time.
Work-from-home Schedule for Parents Tip #2
Maybe breaking your day up as I did will help. For example, what do you hope to accomplish before mid-morning, before lunch, before dinner, and before bedtime?
Allow Room for Flexibility
Although we have our basic schedule, I allow for the realities of life. There are days when we don’t feel well. There are days when we feel stir crazy and decide to take an impromptu trip to the park. It’s okay to go off schedule every now and then, so long as we always get back on track.
Work-from-home Schedule for Parents Tip #3
Being too rigid can make you feel crazy. Are there things in your life that need a little wiggle room for the sake of your sanity?
Set Reasonable Expectations
This goes in hand with setting priorities. I learned that I could not be the mom I want to be and build a massive business at the same time. Some people manage to do this, but I am not one of those people. So, I decided to prioritize raising my children and allow some of my bigger business goals to take a backseat. I only have children once. I have a lifetime to build a business.
Work-from-home Schedule for Parents Tip #4
I want to cheer you on, but I never want to encourage someone to overtax themselves. Do you have overly high expectations? Goals are great but setting the bar too high can damage your physical and mental health. It’s just not worth it.
Learn to Say No
There was a time when I received tons of outreach from clients, and I did not want to say no to any of them because I might miss out on a good opportunity. I learned this lesson the hard way. There is nothing like the embarrassment of telling a client that you have to step down because you took on more than you could handle.
This is also true in my personal life. I don’t like to say no. I want to be there for anyone and everyone, but sometimes I have to suck it up and, politely, decline.
Work-from-home Schedule for Parents Tip #5
Do you have trouble saying no? What are your boundaries, and how can you set these boundaries in a professional and friendly way?
My Final Thoughts as a Work-from-home Parent
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a work-from-home schedule, but I hope that sharing my experience will provide you with some ideas of your own.
Think back to the quote at the start of this article. What does “good fortune” look like to you, and not just in terms of financial prosperity but also in creating a meaningful life? How should you order your life so that your chances of success improve? In my opinion, that is what creating an effective work-from-home schedule is all about.