I have been a stay at home mum since my oldest was born 6 years ago next week. Three years after she was born I dove into the world of writing as a Blogger and Published writer. Thus began my working from home, in a very flexi way. Last year (2019) on top of what I was already doing I became a formal working mum from home, like a salary at the end of the month kind of space. I have a 20 hour job, that requires me to go in for 3 hours once a week for staff meetings. Rest of the time I work from home as I also mother my two youngest and pick/drop my oldest to/from school (before COVID-19). I also teach at the same time – run Integrated Living classes as well as speak in various forums.
Thanks to COVID-19 many working mums – both full time and part-time have found themselves at home. Doing full time care work and formal work at the same time – or should I more honestly say EXCPECTED to do full time mothering and formal work at the same time.
So how do you do it? How do you make it through each day without going wacko?
Here are 3 hacks that have worked for me and are still working.
1. Have a Plan
Yes the adage by Benjamin Franklin is true:
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Please have a plan. A plan includes designated spaces for different activities. Like a desk and chair for your formal work time. A mat for play or meals. A spaces for water or mud play. Another space for coluring or writing or reading. And this spaces do not have to be rooms or large just spaces that everyone is aware what they are used for. And then plan for TIME. A wonderful resources that will serve everyone well when planned.
Planning for time does not necessarily mean an elaborate hour by hour, minute by minute plan ( though for some personalities nothing less will do), but a working plan for every member of the household. This plan cannot be one only known to you or worse still existing in your head. It is a plan that needs to be discussed and shared with all the members of your household.
My general plan revolves around mealtimes. Since none of mine is very enthusiastic about breakfast, we have water or a fruits as everyone wakes up. I will sit on my desk, check emails and get my work plan for the day/week rolling. As the children continue with the waking up phase they will play inside or outside the house. At around 9am, hunger will strike and they will have a meal. That signals a break. I will either prepare the meal or my helper will do it. My intention (does not always work) is to have each meal with them. We eat sitted on a mat and chat, share stories. Next meal is 11am. That is lunch. Between 9am meal and 11am meal, more play time. This can include guided play, meaning I will be getting up and down from my workstation. The 11am meal is lunch. Again we sit down on the mat and eat together. Between Noon and 1pm we all take a nap, myself included. We will wake up at 3pm and have a snack. Since my work is 20hrs per week, I will generally not be working in the afternoon. So we can play, bake, read, ride bikes etc etc. 5pm we settle back into the house and begin the evening routine. Shower, eat dinner, have Bible Study+prayers, sleep (or more honestly start negotiating sleep times in recent days). 8pm babies, including the negotiators are in bed.
Your plan will of course look different from mine. Bottom line have a plan that includes you delivering on your employment expectations while being present not just physically in your children’s lives.
2. Take it in stride
Yes we plan. Yes we intend to stick to that plan most of the times. However, that is not always the case. Children get sick, grumpy, crumpy. Helpers walk away. You get overwhelmed by it all.
As we used to say in Doulos ropes course
cut yourself some slack
Be kind with yourself. Hopefully in turn you will be kind to your children and every other adult in your household.
I have logged into conference calls holding a baby and looking like a character out of the farm. I have had a child shout from the bathroom for assistance while I was in the middle of a work conversation. I have countless times been on the phone while stirring a pot over the fire.
Breathe in and out and take it in stride.
I have realised that many times whatever can go wrong often does go wrong, however my attitude to everything changes the outcome every single time!
3. Integrated Living
The concept of integrated living can be summarised as follows:
Growing every area of your life at the same time not at the same rate
“Think about a tree” my wise younger sister told me a couple of years ago. It grows every part at the same time not at the same rate. No tree grows just roots alone for years, then a stem, then branches, then leaves, then fruits. Nope. Every part of the tree will be growing at the same time not at the same rate.
Why do human beings believe the lie that they should only grown one area of their lives at a time?
As a working from home mum, you can excel as an employee, as an employer, as a mother and as a member of the community at the same time though not at the same rate.
So mommy dear, integrate your life while working from home. Acknowledge all the roles that you are expected to play at this time and map how they can flow into each other, how they can feed into and from each other. Then go ahead and thrive!
You got this mama!