For 27 years I was a stay at home mom, commonly known as a SAHM. I cleaned, whipped up family meals Mrs. Cleaver would have been proud of, and homeschooled my children â€“ all without chipping a perfectly manicured nail (Shhhâ€¦Itâ€™s my fantasy, just go with it).
Then one fine day I jumped the broom with a lifelong dream and became a writer â€“ all of a sudden I was a sophisticated work at home mom, a WAHM.Â And wham it was. What a change! My perfect Suzy Homemaker schedule was sucked into a black hole in my computer screen, never to be heard from again.
Now, my adorable, homeschooled children, my house, my husband, and my mad cooking skills were not my only responsibilities. I quickly learned new words like deadline, rewrite, and the dreaded â€“ We are not looking for submissions at this time.
I found that not only did I NOT have a schedule, all of my hats were bleeding onto my other hats and I felt like Bartholomew Cubbins. There were no priorities because everything was priority. Six homeschooled kids, one retired husband, and one work at home mom were a recipe for chaos and frustration.
The answer was boundaries – enforced boundaries.
Work Time Home Time
The first thing you will have to do is to create a work time and a home time because if you donâ€™t you are going to be making cupcakes for the first grade Halloween party while you are researching the social habits of a three toed Albanian sloth (which, if you Google it, you will find is a nonexistent creature that I made up) and trying to make reservations for dinner with your husbandâ€™s best client â€“all at the same time.
You canâ€™t do it â€“ no one can.
- Decide on the hours you will work.
- Add a ten to fifteen minute break for every four hours you schedule.
- Add a one hour lunch for every consecutive eight hours you work.
- Mark it on a day planner.
- Don’t take time from your schedule for other activities except in special circumstances.
If you donâ€™t take your work seriously, who is going to? When people ask you what you do tell them you are a professional what-ever-you-are and that you keep an office in your home.
Hereâ€™s the tricky part. Just because you are working at home does not mean that you have more time than anyone else to chaperone field trips or babysit the neighborâ€™s twins while she runs to the store. You donâ€™t have to explain; just a gracious, â€œNo.â€ should suffice.
Have a Defined Area
Even if your office area tends to be the comfy sofa in the front room, make it your designated work space. When your children or husband see you in your â€œofficeâ€ it should be a sign to them that you are working as much as if you were away at a high rise downtown with expansive views. Just like they would not think of interrupting you at your office to ask you where their favorite socks are, they should not be interrupting your work for mundane requests.
Make lists for yourself, your children, and even your spouse. They can refer to the lists to keep current with chores, errands, and other things you donâ€™t have time to do. Delegation is your new best friend.
This is going to take a while, believe me. You will have to be disciplined with yourself as well as your children in order to create a new way of doing things. No one is going to like it, least of all you if you have been used to juggling it all. You will need to let go of some control, and take it from a card carrying control freak â€“ thatâ€™s frightening.
Eventually things will become smoother and you will find that your career, family, and friends all co-exist (mostly) peacefully.
photo credit: Victor1558