Lydia, a dear friend, and fan of Moms Work Hard, recently sent me this text: “I’m going to be a work at home mom part-time and I’m terrified. What are things you do to keep sane and have a schedule?”
(Isn’t it kind Lydia thinks I am sane!?)
If you’re reading this blog post I’m guessing that means free time is a bit of a luxury, so I’ll make this quick.
Here are the two best tips I can give other work at home moms of young kids who are trying to stay sane.
#1. Embrace White Space
If you look at my calendar, you’ll see a few strips of washi tape marking out the non-negotiables in our family rhythms. Everything else is white space.
Beautiful, glorious white space.
The birth of my second daughter unknowingly enrolled me in the course How To Prevent Burnout 101. But wouldn’t you know that to learn such a lesson, I had to first burn out?!
My daughter was nearing six months old and I started to feel a bit off. Like maybe trying to juggle five flaming torches at once wasn’t the best idea. But like any self-respecting wannabe Wonder Woman, I added a few more torches and scrambled to keep up.
By the beginning of 2017, I was a wreck: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically. I have my husband to thank for his gracious intervention. He calmly and lovingly started to extinguish those metaphoric flaming torches and remove them from my hands. We’ve been on Operation: Refresh ever since. And now, a year later, I can honestly tell you I’m in a much healthier place!
The moral of the story is this: never again do I want to push myself to the brink. We have put a lot of checks and balances in place to prevent any member of our family from taking on too much too soon. We are dedicated to protecting our family priorities.
White space is the key to maintaining your sanity as a work at home mom.
I was always the person to look at an already full schedule, and then stuff it to the brim. “Oh, I have an hour between this appointment and that? I can certainly squeeze in an errand.” I’m guessing most work at home moms are similar to me. We’re driven, we want to see results, and we want to make good use of our time. But the reality is you can OVERuse your time, and time is a fleeting resource.
A practical tip I can give you to helping protect that white space is this: choose your big rocks. What are the few, but mighty tasks to accomplish in your day? If you intentionally pick those out and knock them out first, I promise your days will feel less frantic and you’ll be more productive.
#2. Get Help
My second saving-sanity tip is to get help.
We have loved using a mother’s helper to watch our kids while I do the bulk of my work. My other working hours are done when my husband or family are watching my kids, or the kids are fast asleep. (Though I don’t do much work at night anymore since I learned that a generous amount of sleep is really necessary for me to be at my best!) Occasionally I’ll work while my kids are up if I have a crisis to manage or a quick task, but it’s not the norm. There are a million ways to put together childcare…be creative!
You cannot do all things at all times. One of my favorite girl bosses once pointed out that Mrs. Brady was a full-time stay-at-home-mom, and even SHE had a live-in Nanny! Promise you don’t have to have six kids to ‘earn’ the right to get help. Asking for and accepting help is a sign of emotional health! It is a way to prove to yourself and others that you’re not the Energizer Bunny, able to go on and on and on without rest!
Other ways in addition to childcare I can imagine work-at-home-moms getting help would be:
- Using a service like Kroger ClickList or an online shopping service
- Buy online grocery shopping lists so the work is already done for you
- Ask someone to accompany you to appointments to wrangle the kids
- Hire or ask for help with housekeeping
Those are my two best tips! What other ideas do you have?
Take a deep breath. Are you feeling your sanity come back into focus? I sure hope so!