No one understands the difficult dance of being a mom who works from home better than a mom who works from home, right? So, we asked 13 inspiring women who’ve been there, done that: “What’s your best piece of advice for other mamas considering the work-from-home path??”
Those we spoke to — among them the founder of rideshare app Kango, and the travel writer/photographer behind The Far & Near—have mastered a mix (on most days at least!) that works for them. From the benefit of bucketing tasks to 'fessing up during a conference call that you’re home with the kiddos, below they share the tips they’ve learned along the way (sometimes: the hard way).
“Have a schedule that your child can understand—and stick to it. For a preschooler, this could be a poster with photos of you and your child going through the day's activities in order: a photo of you on your computer and your little one coloring, a photo of the two of you reading books together, etc. My child is a bit older and can read, so we wrote out slips of paper with various activities on them: quiet time (Mommy work), swimming, etc. We discuss and arrange the schedule each morning and fasten the slips on a cookie sheet with magnets—we keep the whole thing in the family room, so we can refer back to it throughout the day. My son loves telling me ‘what's next’ on the schedule. The most important thing is that your child knows when you expect him to entertain himself, when he can have screen time, and when he can have some quality time with just you.” —Robin Leon, Au Pair in America
“Don’t beat yourself up about not getting all the housework done during the work day! Give yourself permission to ignore it and focus on your work.” —Copywriter Lisa Banks
“Hire a babysitter because there is 0% chance of getting any real work done with a baby at home, and trying to squeeze it all in during nap time will only leave you frazzled. Even if you're planning on working from home (or a coffee shop nearby), finding a babysitter your kid loves and you trust is essential to feeling balanced and productive. Care.com is a great resource for finding part- or full-time help.” —Dulci Edge, freelance art director and the brains behind travel site The Far & Near
“Always shower and get dressed first thing in the morning. If too much time passes, you’ll quickly get consumed in the work and before you know it the day is in full swing making it tough to pull away and get ready.” —Robyn Racheotes, founder of A Modest Life blog
“If you are considering a work-from-home position, first think about what your ideal work-life balance looks like. Start by mapping out how you’re currently spending your days. If you’re not sure, the best way to do this is by tracking your time over the course of a week. This will help you become more aware of where you are losing time and how you can work more efficiently. Ask yourself if there are any tasks that can be eliminated and replaced to achieve your ideal balance. Once you’ve landed on a balance that feels right, establish a schedule, set home/work boundaries, and create measurable goals. Without setting goals for yourself, you won’t know if you are making progress towards an end result.” —Traci Ready, Alice’s Table Exec
“Being a work-from-home mom is tough. Don’t be hard on yourself and take everything in stride! I found it best to disclose that I was at home with my boys during all meetings. People are usually very understanding and it put less stress on me and my children.” —Heather Karpinsky, mompreneur behind twin feeding set Baby A & Baby B
“Set clear boundaries! Time: Nail down ‘work’ hours and make sure everyone at home knows and accepts them. (You will need to enforce this.) Physical: Have an off-limits place to work, where you are focused on work tasks and others (like your kids!) don't disturb you during working hours. Mental: Find ways to ‘turn off’ when you're not in your workspace, and be present in the moment.” —Sara Schaer, founder of kid-focused ride-sharing app Kango
“As the mother of two homeschooled toddlers, time is super scarce for me! My best tip is to batch up your work. When you work in batches rather than switching from one task to another—or, God forbid, ‘multitasking’—you get more done in less time because your brain learns to program that specific task and optimize it. For example, I create all my blog outlines at once, do all my social media posts at once, etc.” —Maayan Naveh, founder of Etsy-shop consultancy Living Waters Makers
“Get ‘THEM’ on board. One of my most difficult tasks was getting friends and family to respect that what I was doing was a real job, and stop interrupting my day with calls/texts and expectations that I would be available to grab a coffee, pick up the dry cleaning, or run an errand or three.” —Blair Critch, blogger behind Rags to Critchs
“Create a beautiful, organized, private work space for yourself. When you’re working and in the flow, you'll want a place where you can focus on work and not be disrupted. And because we spend a good amount of time working each week, it helps when your office is clean, organized, and contains things you love like projects your kids made, inspirational art, and pictures of your loved ones.” —Christine Brown, founder of Bella Luna Sleep Consulting
“Pinterest is your best friend. For example, keep emergency boards for all holidays. Those kid holiday parties you need ideas for will sneak up on you!” —Melissa Wilson, media buyer at Hoffmann Murtaugh
“Working from home sounds great, doesn’t it? People have said to me, ‘Wow, you have the life!’ Yeah, right. If you’re not organized it can be harder to work from home than from an office—no doubt about it. When you have three little ones constantly demanding a juice box or some other necessity they can’t live without, the house can get pretty chaotic in a matter of moments! I try to organize our days so there are as few surprises as possible. I start by laying out everyone’s clothes the night before. I’m NOT a morning person so the fewer decisions I have to make in the morning the better! I also prep breakfast and lunch so I don’t lose too much work-day time doing that. I schedule big calls and meetings around nap time so that I can hear myself think and actually have a productive meeting. And spacing out activities and, yes, a few TV shows has also proven to really help make my day and the kiddies’ day more fun and less stressful.” —Faith Rim, co-founder of styling firm First|Seven
“Make a to-do list every day. Kids often interrupt so it's important to be able to easily know what you are supposed to be working on at any given moment.” —Larisha Campbell, who runs the blog We’re Parents with her husband
If you're looking for a fun, flexible job, consider becoming an Alice's Table Exec and hosting flower-arranging classes on your own time in your own town!