I am honored to be apart of this #blogsummer series with Arin Solange and Navy Patten to talk about balancing working from home with kids. Their work ethic and approach have taught me a lot and I am grateful to get to share a few on my own thoughts.
“Every minute of every day I’m either feeling like I need to be getting more done, or I’m feeling like I need to be spending more time with my children.” @cmon.mama
I read this quote on Instagram and It sums up the struggle I’ve had since becoming a mom and continuing my entrepreneurial journey at home. The lingering feeling that we should always be doing something else has to be one of the biggest productivity detractors of our lives. We lose focus and momentum; our strokes of genius fizzle out. In fact, I had this brilliant thought to share and my daughter just walked in to talk about the nuances of her new toy story lego set. Poof the thought is gone! Welcome to motherhood.
In General, Is there really a right way to balance working as a mom and being there for our families, will we ever get it right? Is the pressure we put on ourselves even greater than the pressure that comes from society. I’m mostly talking about comparison among peers online and unrealistic ideals from advertising that highlight both sides of how successful we could be or how much time we should be spending with our kids.
I don’t care if you are a stay at home mom hustling your own career, running your own business between sitters, or working full time trying to balance bosses and corporate demands; making the most of our time working or with our families feels impossible. Throw in a few distractions like yelling kids, relationships that need care, messy houses, meals to be made, phone calls, school emails, oh and a little thing called social media; we are pulled a million directions minute.
In my efforts to balance my at home work life and mom life, I have found myself crying, feeling guilty, lashing out at my kids, being crabby with my husband, dropping balls, and missing deadlines. I’m not telling you this for any other reason than to let you know that the struggle is real and to normalize all the things you may have felt or are feeling. I think it is very important to give ourselves grace in this season devoted to raising kids. In fact, I wrote a blog post about being a stay at home mom and not keeping up with everything all the time because I relate to that side of things too. But, I am an entrepreneur at heart and finding ways to keep that side of me alive has been part of my journey. I have learned a lot in recent years about how to balance it better.
I was told by a female pastor I love, Whatever you are doing, just do that. It is so simple but profound and helped me immensely.
As of lately, when I am playing with my kids, I turn my phone off or leave it in the other room. What is the point of hanging out with them if I am only worried about getting things done? Being in a frantic mindset leaves us all stressed and doesn’t allow for any special moments, I know this because I have tried unsuccessfully a hundred times. Genuinely being present with them for a half hour can actually fill us all up emotionally and mentally a lot more than 2 hours spent wishing I was accomplishing something else.
On the flip side, Now when I am working, I choose not to worry or feel guilty about my kids being bored. It’s time to read, play in the basement, or yes Netflix and chill. I tell them I am always here if its an emergency, but that I am working and need quiet. They get better at this every day and their imaginations are being forced to expand. I think it may be healthier for all of us.
I also have been studying how to use my working time more wisely and read the most amazing book by Curt Steinhorst called Can I have Your Attention. He lays out a framework for productivity. I haven’t mastered it, but it’s HELPING.
Here are some tips I have learned.
Prioritize your plans: Not every task is going to get done. Choosing my top 3 that I have to finish is kicking my butt and saving my life.
Set deadlines: I work well with a deadline and my brain spurs into action the closer I get to that deadline. Set your deadline ahead of schedule if you have a tendency to procrastinate.
Take Mental Space: The Harvard Business Review suggests we take 2-5 minutes of complete quiet to clear our head before diving into a task. Apparently, Bill Gates gives himself weeks of thinking time between projects and we all know how that’s working for him. This helps with MENTAL OVERLOAD.
Turn Off Phones: Our brains are hard-wired for adrenaline rushes and mini wins. It feels deceptively productive to check our phones for a new email, a message, or social media like to make us feel like we are accomplishing something. Sitting down to do the hard tasks can feel impossible without the shots of dopamine checking our phones every 5 minutes gives us. A lot of professionals suggest turning notifications off and waiting to check emails until the end of the day to keep our minds focused.
Do One Thing at a Time: As women, we try to do 30 things at one time thinking that will help us DO IT ALL. We actually get less done. Complete a task, check it off your list, and then start something else.
Let People Help: I always used to say no I’m fine when people offered to take my kids. Now If someone offers, I almost yell, “That would be awesome!” I try to make my kid-free hours my most productive.
Accountability: Something I have struggled with is accountability. If it doesn’t have to get done, sometimes it doesn’t. Having a friend or mentor keep me accountable to accomplish a task has been super helpful
In the end, a happy mom is better than a perfect mom and for those of us that need to work to make money, or need to create to stay mentally alive, there are things we can do to be a little more productive and balance our lives. They don’t make us any less of a good mom. Just the fact that you are getting up and doing it every day, raising your kids and loving them unconditionally, with or without a job makes you a superhero in my book.
More mammas talking all things working from home and managing their time… check out these really honest posts.
Navy from Navy Berlin Blog
Aryn from Motherhood Musings