Being a Mom that Works From Home

Working from Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

I met a dear friend for brunch a few weeks ago while I was in Phoenix. Over vanilla lattes, crisp bacon and brûléed grapefruit, we shared stories about the ups and downs of being a mom that works from home. We both own busy and demanding businesses, which is a great problem to have, of course. We talked about how great it is to be able to run our businesses, and raise our children, all under one roof. The flexibility is so convenient. We can still meet for playdates and join a MOPS group. We get to spend more time with our kids while they are young, and we don’t have to pay for full-time childcare.

However, along with all the blessings, there are some difficulties that come along with working from home. It can be tough, really tough, to balance everything. Uninterrupted time is very hard to find.  And if I’m being honest, it is easy to work too much. With a job I absolutely love, my business is almost an extension of myself, so it can be hard to completely stop working when the work day is over. My brain doesn’t go into “home mode” when my day’s work is done, and I am guilty of handing over the iPad to my kids way too much so I can get just one more thing checked off my list. 

My office is clean and peaceful, and a great place for me to escape and get lots of work done. I spend hours each day editing and emailing, photographing newborns and styling the next photoshoot. I am so passionate about my job, and am also so incredibly grateful for the flexibility it brings. However, my office is only about ten feet from my kitchen.  So as you can imagine, it is very hard to “go home” at night and leave work “at the office.” 🙂 

Working from Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

In the pursuit of balancing home life and my work life, I have a few goals for myself this year that I want to share with you. Would you, if you are also a mom working from home, consider doing this along with me?  There are only four, and I think they will help immensly in balancing everything we do as busy working moms.

First, I will check my email only twice per day – once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. This one change has been HUGE for me and my business! It is insane to think about how much time I have spent checking my email during the day! When I plan scheduled times to check my email, I can concentrate on what I am doing without being distracted by client questions, preschool calendars, J. Crew sales, etc.  This is taking some getting used-to, but it has been a major time-saver for me. I had to make sure to turn off all email notifications – on my phone and on my computer, so I can control when I want to check my email. This step alone is so freeing when you compare to how I usually do it — every ten minutes for the whole day (and night), or whenever I heard that ever-so-familiar iPhone ding!

Working from Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Second, I will designate 2-3 hours for focused work per day. That means no Pinterest or checking Facebook during this time. Once again, turning off my computer’s notification settings, and not checking Pinterest or Instagram on my phone while I am working either. I am starring my to-do list with two or three tasks I want to complete in those 2-3 hours, and make sure I focus only on those things until they are done. I think I am a good multitasker, but in reality, I am just switching from task to task, which slows me down so I am less effective. The point of this is to maximize my effectiveness and minimize the time it take to get certain tasks done. Some days this will mean hiring a sitter, going to a coffee shop, or even working during nap time. 

Working from Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Third, I will take one day off per week, entirely. This has been a challenge since I started my photography business. Until recently, I have worked seven days a week. There was not a day that I didn’t return emails to my clients, take pictures, edit them, or post to social media.  However, I know it is so important for me to turn my brain off and to rest. So I am going to commit one day per week to turn everything off entirely. 

And last, after 5pm, I will shut-down my computer. No email, no social media, nothing. I want to relax. Turn on some music, drink a glass of wine, and cook dinner with my girls (they love to help me in the kitchen). I want to live in the moment. Wherever I am, I want to be all there. When I’m “at work,” I want to do focused work. When I am “at home,” I want to be at home, mentally as well as physically, with my children.

Working from Home | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Hopefully a few of these tips will help you balance work and home life, all while working from home!

17 Responses to Being a Mom that Works From Home

  1. Alissa April 1, 2014 at 7:14 AM #

    Great rules to follow for those of us that work outside of the home too. My work email comes to my phone and I’m often guilty of keeping it too close when I’m technically supposed to be shut down. Just being in the moment is a very big challenge for me. Thanks for this post!

    • Nealy
      Nealy April 1, 2014 at 7:45 AM #

      Thanks Alissa! The email thing has been huge for me…otherwise I feel like I’m checking my email constantly! 🙂 Have a great day – see you next week!

  2. Cate @ Wild Ruffle April 1, 2014 at 8:21 AM #

    Taking the notifications off my phone, and only doing having email download to my phone when I open it has been key for me – otherwise I’m distracted all the time. Five minutes here and there adds up to a whole lot of time throughout the day!

    Thanks for sharing some great tips!

  3. Ashley April 1, 2014 at 9:05 AM #

    Oh man I relate to this SO much. I own a sister site (New Orleans) AND my part-time “real” job is work from home. This has given me the sense that everything is flexible, but really it means that I am always working in 10 minute increments here and there. I want to be better about shutting down at night – my husband comes home and is done and I way too often take advantage of the childcare help to … work some more. Slippery slope!

    • Nealy April 2, 2014 at 7:43 AM #

      Hi Ashley, Thanks for your comment…I’ve heard New Orleans Moms Blog is awesome! 🙂

  4. Julie April 1, 2014 at 1:46 PM #

    Great post Nealy! I’ve been trying to tweak my work from home schedule because it is HARD! I’m in a job I love, so I really could work all day. BUT, I can’t. Plus for me, I work in social media which never really shuts down. So I’ve had to get creative and let some things go. I usually try and shut down around 4:30 each day and that helps. Getting up early and only working during nap time is what works for me now.

    • Nealy April 2, 2014 at 7:44 AM #

      Hi Julie, Thanks for your comment! I know it is so HARD to quite working at the end of the day – good for you for shutting down early. 🙂 Hope all is well for you guys! 🙂

  5. Beth
    Beth April 1, 2014 at 3:06 PM #

    Great article Nealy – I have been trying to do some of these things for the last week and seen benefits, even cooking dinner more! I think that 5pm shut-down is key. Even if I have to ramp back up after bedtime, at least that quality family time is there. Loved this!

    • Nealy April 2, 2014 at 7:45 AM #

      Thank you Beth…you’ve seen me and how hard it’s been to balance everything. 🙂 The email only twice a day has been HUGE.

  6. anna {girlwithblog.com} April 1, 2014 at 3:26 PM #

    I turned off all notifications on my phone, which has saved my brain SO much. I work two part-time jobs and blog at four sites, so I’m unable to stop for the day at dinnertime, BUT I do take a good break (like Beth) – we cook and eat as a family, and I help with bath and bedtime =) Then after our son is down, my husband and I both crack open our computers and get to work on our compy stuff. It doesn’t leave a lot of relax time, but I keep reminding myself that this is a season.

    I too am so grateful to be at home with my son and keep jobs that I adore! Thanks, Nealy!

    • Nealy April 2, 2014 at 7:45 AM #

      Thanks Anna for your comment! 🙂 Good for you for setting boundaries for yourself and your family.

  7. Christine Smith April 2, 2014 at 3:51 PM #

    I have worked from home for 8 years and I have 6 kids. Thumbs up to everything on this list AND I would also add to keep your work email and personal email separate. I do this and then I know I can do a quick after dinner email check for personal items like the note from a child’s teacher or a personal message from friends/family without getting sucked down into a customer issue etc when it should be family time or my time.

  8. Sarah @ An Inviting Home August 4, 2014 at 11:06 PM #

    Great tips! I finally created a central dock in our home to store my phone throughout the day which has helped loads. I can still hear it ring but that way I’m not always carrying it on me and checking email constantly. I especially love your tip on only checking email twice a day. I need to start doing that!

    ~Sarah

  9. Kathryn Awe August 6, 2014 at 9:21 AM #

    Thank you for the article! I think I’ll have to try to put some of these ideas into practice in my own life. Email twice a day is a hard one in my business since often the first person to bid on a job is more likely to get it but I know there is much correspondence that can wait – particularly on Facebook! That is my major stumbling block and I’ll have to start the timer strategy (as if *I* am a kid! LOL) I think for me sometimes I also feel like I am not working 40 hours plus at my business (yet) so I don’t need to put these restraints in place but I am sure creating the habit early will be easier in the long run and as my kids get older!

  10. Alicea April 14, 2016 at 5:41 PM #

    Great article! I’ve had to discipline myself to do the same. It took me several years after starting my photography business to learn what was too much vs too little to give each and every day. My time management and daily structure is very similar to what’s in this article.

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