Before I was a work-at-home mom, I thought it would be the easiest job in the world. How sweet would it be to set your own schedule, work in your PJs and play with the kids — all while getting paid? You’d avoid the commute, say goodbye to office drama and get to be your own boss. Win, win, win.
Now that I am a WAHM, I know the truth. It is easy! Easy to get caught up in the day-to-day duties of housework and childcare. Easy to let your romantic relationships slide. Easy to put yourself and your work on the back burner until the last possible moment0.
For the record, I still think being a work-at-home mom is the best job in the world — but it’s certainly not the easiest. In fact, most days I yearn for an office and dedicated time to work in it. I often miss my co-workers and the built-in adult interaction that comes with a traditional work space. Some days I even (gasp) miss my commute — or at least the quiet time to think that came with it.
If you’re in the same boat, it’s likely because you are making some of the same mistakes most WAHM make. Here’s what they are and how to avoid them:
Not Setting Boundaries
Unfortunately for many WAHMs, saying goodbye to the traditional 9 to 5 also means saying hello to being on the clock from dawn to well after dusk. Hours meld together and you find yourself wondering how it’s already 4 p.m. when you feel like you just barely cleaned up breakfast. If this sounds familiar, here are some suggestions for setting boundaries on your energy, time and work space:
- Energy: Make 2017 the year that you stop overloading yourself. Know your limits and respect them. Don’t accept assignments you don’t have time for or say yes to favors that would stretch you too far to complete.
- Time: Start replacing the words “I don’t have time” with “It’s not a priority” and see how your days, relationships and work habits change.
- Work space: A completely kids-free home office might not be possible if space is limited, but you can compromise. A few hours a day, turn a room into your private work space and make sure everyone knows it better be for an emergency if they enter and interrupt.
Not Networking Enough
And I don’t mean on social media. While Facebook and Instagram can be great places to connect with current and potential clients, spending downtime mindlessly scrolling through your feeds doesn’t cut it. Make it a point to get out of the house regularly for work-related reasons. For example, if you have access to alternate childcare — like a friend who will swap with you — occasionally schedule a lunch meeting with a client or colleague or work from the library or a local coffee shop. Other ideas include:
- Using online tools like Meetup to find and connect with other WAHMs
- Following companies like Amway for news on local networking events and extra income opportunities
- Regularly searching sites like EventBrite for a directory of classes and conferences going on nearby
Not Taking Me Time
Opportunity and flexibility are contributors, but they probably aren’t the main reasons you are working from home. You’re likely a WAHM because you want to be, because being your children’s full-time caregiver is important enough to you to make the switch. That’s great, but don’t let it be your demise. Be careful not to overextend yourself in giving too much of yourself to others. In an effort to balance your many roles as mom, employee, wife, friend, neighbor, you can forget to take time for yourself as an individual. Try to let go of the ever-popular sentimental messaging about “enjoying every second” of motherhood and doing it all as a WAHM. Because moms need breaks too, whether they work from home or not.