Last week, Victoria shared her top two tips for moms of little ones who are working from home (or looking to work from home). Her sanity-saving tips (Embrace White Space and Get Help) are the foundation for work at home moms, but when it comes to moms of teenagers, things look a little different. It’s no longer child care and sleep deprivation that keep you from work (or from drinking a hot cup of coffee), it’s now sports, clubs, driving lessons, and late night talks that drain your time and your emotional energy. I, Carlee, have 3 of my own plus an exchange student…so this is my world.
How can a Work at Home Mom of Teens get her work done AND meet the physical and emotional needs of her teenagers? Here are my top three tips:
Prioritize Conversation Over Activity
When your kids are little, it’s pretty important to be where they are. You stay at dance practice, you hang around birthday parties, and you would never miss a soccer game. But as your kids grow up and have more activities, they need some independence and some space to be their own person. So while I still go to every soccer game I can (at least every home game), I’m a taxi to practice, and I don’t go to all the Speech and Debate meets because I’d spend most of the day sitting around waiting.
Instead, I’m available when they get home. I might make them a snack and listen as they chat about their day, their game, or what happened at youth group.
I’ve learned to NOT mourn missing out on the activities themselves, but instead to work hard while the kids are gone and be fully available to hang out when they’re home.
Find Your Margins and Protect Them
I used to work at night after everyone went to bed. 9 PM-Midnight truly was my margin, and as a lifelong night owl, my brain was ready to focus!
But teenagers don’t do bedtimes.
In general, everyone heads to bed between 9 and 10 PM (gone are the days they were in bed by 7:30!), but on any given night, someone wants to talk, someone needs help with school work, or someone forgot to lock up the chickens, needs a snack, or just wants to hang out.
My margins are now early afternoons. My public schooler is at school and my two homeschoolers are working independently after I’ve spent the morning teaching. There are no practices to go to and no one needs to eat or chat, so I can sit down and truly work from 12:30 – 4:30 PM. I find other work hours in the early morning, when the kids are at activities, or when they’re hanging out with friends, but those are my protected hours!
I have learned to fight distractions, say “No” to what will pull me away from work, and make sure my kids have what they need to get their school and chores done before I head to my desk.
By protecting that block of time, I’m teaching my kids that my work is important to our family and I’m giving my clients and my business the time they need, without taking away from the relationships I have with my kids.
Divide the Kids’ Needs
Just like you got some help in the diaper-changing, midnight-feeding, constant-chasing stage of parenting, work with your spouse to divide the kids’ needs now. My husband is a totally engaged parent on his own, but when I started working more hours from home, he also took over cooking dinner one night a week and breakfast on the weekends (and rallied our son to help…and now he’s a fabulous chef on his own!), he drives them to youth group and practice if I’m cleaning up from dinner or need to work, and he spends Saturdays doing things with them – from working around the house and farm, to swimming, to running errands. He’s great at getting the kids involved in whatever he’s doing and having deep conversations while they work or play.
We keep a family schedule on the refrigerator that we fill in every Sunday night at dinner. We simply jot down everyone’s activities, where they are and what time, and who’s taking them – since sometimes 2 kids have practice at 2 different places at the same time. You can get your own copy of my family schedule for free right here!
Other ways to divide those necessary tasks: enlist your new driver to chauffeur their younger siblings, split driving duties with other moms on your kids’ teams, and give the teenagers increased responsibility at home (chores, taking care of animals, filling the tank with gas, going to the post office, etc) to give you more time to spend with them instead of you doing all the work.
When I was in high school, my soccer teammates’ moms paid me a few bucks a week to drive their kids home from practice. It was a win-win, as I liked the spending money and they appreciated not getting back in the car. You can be creative in how your kids’ physical needs get divided up, so that you can be one hundred percent there for their emotional needs at this crucial time in their lives.
So drop the Work-at-Home Mom of teens guilt (the struggle is real, I know), be disciplined during your work time, and get creative in all the hustle and bustle of a busy teen’s life! You can do it! And if you’ve got a tip, I’d love to hear it!
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