A good work/life balance can appear to be a challenging thing for work at home mums to get to grips with.
It can seem like an unachievable feat, ticking off every item on both your work and home to-do lists, allowing you time for yourself, your partner, your family, and your home.
It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem. A work/life balance can definitely be achieved, even for mums who work from home! It may take a little more work to establish an initial routine, but you will soon reap the benefits, though, as with all types of working, there are always both pros and cons.
Here are some tips to help you find your perfect work/life balance.
Develop a daily routine
Taking a haphazard approach won’t do you any favours at all. Establishing a routine will ensure you are productive at work, whether it’s a side hustle or you’re working for a company, and still have time for your family. Be sure to set aside sufficient time for meals and breaks (even if it’s just a few minutes away from the screen; it’s important). Deciding upon a regular time for you to be finished with work each day is essential, so you aren’t feeling the need to return to your desk throughout the evening or after you have put the kids to bed at night.
A productive regime doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule with things planned for every minute. A loose routine of what needs to be accomplished each day and how long it should take you will help you to use your time to its fullest extent.
Having said all of that, it is vital that you do remember to be flexible, as things will inevitably happen. You may have to care for a sick child one day, pushing back your ability to work until the following day. However, by following the routine most of the time, you will recognise that you are ticking more and more tasks off that seemingly neverending to-do list.
Keep a designated workspace
Never has a she-shed been more popular than during Covid times, but actually, it’s a great idea having a space in which to work away from the rest of the house. It allows you to physically “leave work” even when you are a work at home mum. Of course, the expense of a dedicated space in the garden isn’t something that everyone can afford. In fact, the space doesn’t have to be huge or extravagant. A small desk in the corner of your bedroom could be just as convenient as a garden hideaway or separate office. Be sure to leave this area when you are taking your breaks and only use it for work. This way you don’t feel like you are always at the office during family or “me” time, but you’ll also train yourself to recognise that area solely as a place to be in work mode.
Minimise distractions during work time
To effectively balance your home life and your work, it is vital to be as productive with your time as possible. However, productivity doesn’t always mean that you’re working on something important continuously. It just means that you’re the most productive and focused during work time, and you set aside time to relax and take part in leisure activities, too.
During work hours, be sure to turn off the TV, close social media tabs (and turn off notifications) because you’ll undoubtedly be working online in some capacity and avoid making other plans. If you do these things, you’ll end up working extra during your “home” time and wasting some of your valuable time if you don’t take your schedule seriously.
Put your phone away
The mobile phone may be the biggest distraction of all for everyone, especially work at home mums. We feel the need to be connected at all times, which can result in poor time management and productivity. A quick check of emails can lead you down a rabbit hole of Facebook, Pinterest, a game or two… and before you know it, you’ve been on your phone an hour and got nothing else done. Even if you convince yourself that you are doing something for work, distractions will still happen.
Share your work schedule with your close family and friends, and don’t hesitate to put your phone in another room or turn it off during this time.
Ask for help with housework
Many mums feel the need to do it all, taking on all the responsibilities. Actually, everything should be shared as it’s virtually impossible for one person to do it all.
Delegate household tasks to your partner and to your children. Even young children can help put away laundry, clear the pots off the table or put away their toys. And sometimes, the kids or your partner may even want to help with the business. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s not your responsibility to do it all anyway.
Try time-saving hacks at home
Saving time could be the best way for work at home mums achieve a good work/life balance. Schedule a supermarket delivery or even a collection, so you don’t spend an hour (or even longer, sometimes!) at the shop each week.
Shop online when you can to avoid extra shopping trips. Paying your bills online can help too, as it means you won’t be running to the post office to send letters or buy stamps.
One or two nights a week, encourage someone else to cook tea. Spend a little time on a weekend doing meal prep for the week to save time. Taking advantage of anything that lightens your load and fits your household will really help your work/life balance.
Don’t forget self-care
With the endless items on the to-do list, mums tend to overlook the most important person they are caring for: themselves! Running on empty day in, day out means that soon, something will have to give, and it’s likely to be your work/life balance that will go completely down the drain.
Always include a little “me” time into your weekly schedule. This can include a bubble bath every other night, a weekly massage or time to read every day. Remember that you can take days off work and set aside time for yourself or your family. Don’t forget to take care of yourself along with your job, family and household.
A firm work/life balance is possible with the right plan and support system in place. It’s all about making the most of your everyday structure. Emergencies will happen; it won’t always be perfect, but that’s just part of life. Good luck!