Managing Life as a Work-at-Home Mom

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As someone who has a firm conviction that being home with my children and keeping my home is the best thing that I could possibly do in this season of life, I never really considered any sort of career or business work once that first sweet baby arrived.

Becoming a work-at-home mom was not part of my original plan. I love the idea of focusing only on my home, my children and my husband and not balancing hours of other work on top of it all. That’s what I always thought that I would do.

When blogging and writing turned from hobby to a small income-earning opportunity to a full-fledged business and career pursuit, it surprised me, at times overwhelmed me, but ultimately thrilled me and became something wonderful that I didn’t know I wanted (but am so glad that I have).

In the midst of talking about frugality and money-management this month, it seemed only right to also share about generating an income from home, since I know that this is a desire for so many other moms and homemakers.

Is It Worth It?

Personally, I am so grateful that God had bigger ideas than I did when this little blog began so many years ago. He knew the challenges our family would face and the risks we would decide to take as we pursued our dreams. He gave me an opportunity to challenge myself and serve our family in a way I never anticipated. To be able to do something I love from home, while staying focused on caring for and homeschooling my children and keeping my home, is an amazing thing.

I can choose my own hours, take time off when needed, and have complete creative freedom and control as an entrepreneur. I adore what I do and it would be hard to give it up.

There have been hard times as well. For all those business-owners out there reading this, you know well how easy it can be to push yourself too hard, to let the lines between personal and work time blur too much, to allow priorities to become out of order, and for relationships and health to suffer. I’ve been there. It was a dark time in my life.

I don’t regret the work that I’ve done or that my children know that their mama runs a business as well as a home, but I have at times regretted how I have done things and I have had to make a lot of changes over the past year to work less and work smarter.

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Image by Marina Pics

How Do I “Do It All”?

The short answer is, I don’t.

What many people don’t realize is that those of us who have chosen to work from home (while being committed to caring for our home and children full-time) is that there are many sacrifices along the way.

Things that I have sacrificed to do what I do:
  • “Free” time (Hobbies? What are those?)
  • Having an especially clean or well-decorated home
  • A lot of social outings and opportunities (nights spent home in front of the computer, missed playdates or times with friends, etc.)
  • Making as many things as I want to from scratch. I buy most (though not all) of my natural skincare products, non-toxic cleaners, Christmas gifts, and some foods, like lacto-fermented sauerkraut, yogurt or sprouted grain breads. I love making what I can, but there’s only so much time in the day.
  • Internet browsing or social media (I don’t do Facebook or Twitter other than minimally for business purposes and I hardly ever have the time for pleasure reading blogs or articles these days)
Things I have sacrificed at times, but have learned the hard way that I shouldn’t:
  • Quiet times with the Lord. When we think we don’t have enough time, that’s when we need to make time.
  • Exercise. I can’t tell you how much better and more energetic this makes me feel.
  • Sleep.
  • Time with my kids. I’ll talk more in the next post about how I have moved towards hardly ever being on my computer when I’m around my kids.
  • Time with my husband (another one that is never worth it)
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Image by vxla

Time Management Tips for Balancing Home, Family and Business

After doing this for over four years, one of the best pieces of advice that I can give is to keep things separate. By working hard to keep my computer time contained within certain hours and days, and keeping the laptop shut the rest of the time, I have so much more peace and productivity than I did when I was less strict about when I tackled work tasks.

Here’s what my work week looks like:

Tuesday 12:30-3:30pm (at coffee shop, while our regular mother’s helper comes over to be with the children)
Thursday 7:30-10:00pm (work in my living room, after putting children to bed, while my husband works late)

Friday 9:00am-5:00pm (at coffee shop, while my husband is with the children and does homeschooling– however, this is just a temporary thing while I finish up a few projects and soon I will only be working 3-4 hours on Fridays)

*I know that many couples aren’t able to work out an arrangement like we have for Fridays. This is a new thing for us only in the past 6 weeks or so, as my husband’s work schedule was previously much too busy. In the past, I would work one or two extra evenings instead, or try to squeeze some extra work time out of a nap/quiet time. I also chose not to take on any large projects for the past year, because I knew I simply couldn’t do them and still keep up with everything else.

Aside from those specific work times, I also:

  • Open my laptop once, very briefly, in the mornings to check in with my HelloMornings Facebook group and to put up the newest post on the Keeper of the Home Facebook page. Then I close it as quickly as I can, before I get myself into trouble. :)
  • Occasionally go on for 30-60 minutes in the afternoon while kids are occupied/having quiet times or maybe for an hour in the evenings, but only if I really need to.

I try not to touch my computer on the weekends to the best of my ability. I break this rule sometimes if there is a time-sensitive project I have going on (like a book launch, or a website re-design or technical problem), or if I’ve gotten behind due to unexpected circumstances like illness.

I know this may not be the right strategy for everyone. I have a blogging friend that likes being able to attend to things like her emails, while sitting at the table beside her daughter and being available to stop and offer homeschool help and guidance as needed. It really works for her and that’s awesome.

Personally, I get distracted and find that I am not able to be effective in either homeschooling or work tasks when I try to do the same. Knowing yourself and being honest about what is and isn’t working is crucial. 

Making Work at Home Work for You

I’m pretty sure there is no magical way to make this juggling act easy, but there are definitely ways to make it easier .

In my next post, I’ll discuss things like getting the help that you need, making your work time more productive, creative scheduling, keeping your family a priority, and letting go of things that just aren’t necessary (any guesses as to what I think those are?). Sound like fun? Make sure to check in for Part 2 next week!

Do you work from home? How do you keep life balanced and has it been worthwhile for you so far? What questions on the topic would you love to have answered?

Top image by Machine is Organic

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Love this post! I think your arrangement sounds pretty doable and I can definitely relate to the struggle of how to balance work and home life. I am glad to have found your blog and look forward to reading more!

  2. This is such an encouraging article. I always wanted to find a way to be at home with my kids and still help pay for all the loans I racked up going to college! This blog is an inspiration and I love the tips you have provided. Thank you!

  3. I’m so thrilled to have found such an info packed article Stephanie. You are doing such great work. I am working from home blogging and making music as well as raising my sixteen month old daughter. I am just at the beginning but connecting with people like you who make it all seem possible gives me such a boost. Thank you for providing such a wonderful resource and inspiration!

  4. I can relate to you. It’s nice to connect with moms doing similar things to me and having similar things happen in our lives. Thank you for sharing :) God Bless!

  5. I, too, work from home. I stayed home with my kids for many years when they were little. While I thought I’d be able to get an office job once they were in school, I soon realized that I needed even more flexibility. I wanted to be home during their breaks, after school, etc. I love working from home, but it can be lonely. I’m trying to find more networking groups for home-based businesses.

  6. Hi Stephanie,

    I’m so grateful for bloggers and moms like yourself who share there stories with the rest of us. There’s something about hearing how others manage or attempt to manage things . Until, the last few months I worked full-time , as a teacher . Although, I had a 6 month materninty leave, the experience of staying home while starting a business , and caring for a toddler has brought a whole new set of challenges. My biggest challenge has been how to effectively manage my time, now that my routine is drastically different than before. . I want to give my daughter, my business , and my house appropriate amounts of attention but, have yet to find an equation that works . The good thing is that she’s in daycare for 6 hours ,2 days per week. So, that gives me some quiet work time and I try to make the most of those days.

  7. I can very much relate to your well written article! I have been a work at home Mom for 13 years now and I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but ultimately, I wouldn’t be happy going back to work outside the home.
    I am thankful I found your blog and as a home-maker at heart I will follow your juorney!

  8. Thanks for this article! This is definitely a struggle for me but I am also lucky that both of my boys are young enough that they still take daily naps. I have found that by sticking to my schedule, it helps a lot with keeping things under control. I get to work for about 15 min every morning before my husband leaves for work, then I work during naps, and after the kids go to bed at night. My husband also does some work at home but we try to have 1-2 nights a week when we shut the computers off at night.

  9. Stephanie –
    Thanks for this great post! So honest and encouraging!
    This past year I started working on moving my 2 blogs (mothering-matters.com and drinkfromthedeep.org) from blogger to wordpress – as I really did want to turn them from hobbies to possible income-producing blogs (or at least one of them. My DFTD blog is more ministry related).
    As I read many mom-bloggers posts about how they go about writing, planning their schedules, etc . . . I notice a theme . . . . coffee shops! :) I’m starting to think I need to change venues . . . and maybe it will inspire me more (and keep me from getting sucked into time-wasters . . . like email and FB!). I’ve been blogging in a chair at home . . . but do find I can get “too comfortable”! :) I tried the library once (thinking I needed the quiet – and afraid I’d get too distracted at a coffee shop) . . . but it was a bit too quiet – and reminded me of being in school! Bleh! :)
    Anyways . . . blessings on all you do. You sound like a GREAT mom – and your kids are blessed to have you!

    Abundant blessings this year!

    Lori :)

    • Coffee shops are great… that’s where I am right now. For me, it’s perfect because I get out of the house (where I, too, can get too comfortable and distracted), but it has just enough background, ambient noise to feel comfortable and not sterile, like a library (which I don’t think would work for me, either). I do much better work when I change venues. I also like to change coffee shops once in a while, just for that added change of scenery. Today I found another one that I really like, and they say a change is as good as a vacation, right? :)

  10. Great post! One of m goals this year is to start implementing “Office Hours” for my blog design business and to work on blog work. I’m still working on getting into a good sleep groove with my newborn, but once we do, with the Lord’s help, I’m going to start implementing Office Hours and spend less time on the computer while my kids are awake.

  11. My husband and I were just talking about this last night. I just started blogging {kind of a hobby, not really a job} and it can become a problem if I am ‘consumed’ with my ‘work’ at the wrong times! It is super helpful to hear how you make time to write. Looking farward to Part 2!

  12. interesting timing of your post. I just became a mother and began working at home this past August. I’m definitely learning things along the way. The outline of your weekly work schedule is interesting, as we just decided to establish a more regular working-from-home schedule this week (after an emotional evening :). I am finding it does not work to just try to “fit things in” during baby girl’s nap times or after bedtime, for many of the reasons you list above. With that mentality I end up being ineffective at both jobs!

    I have found the decorating/hobby time/ social life sacrifices to be the hardest. There just isn’t enough time! However, we are so thankful for the blessing of a job I love as God’s provision during this stage of our lives.

  13. Timely topic for me — I aim to be starting to do some work at home in the next two weeks. These are things that I have had going through my mind and I wonder how well I will manage adding work back into my life. Thanks for the input – I will weigh it all.

  14. Thank you for this post! I am not yet a mom, but my dream is to one day be a stay at home mom running a blog business for a little extra income. It is good to get the inside scoop to see how blogging WAHMs do it efficiently!

  15. Hi Stephanie,
    I think we share same “work at home mom” story as I can relate myself to you in many aspects. I started working at home last year and I have managed to settle few things so far. I have also said “no” to many things that I like but today I don’t have any regrets for that. I hated some of the tasks initially but gradually I started liking them. Its really very tough to work at home along with taking care of home and kids.

  16. I’m a part time worship leader at my church. I don’t have an office there, and do a good bit of things from home. But Wednesdays are my main “work day” as my MIL has the kids, I can go to planning meetings, get a lot of correspondence done, and have rehearsal. Although I have other things that need attended to on other days, I find I do much better if I can take off the mommy/homeschooler hat for a few concentrated hours and give all my attention to my work.

  17. Thanks so much for this post Stephanie! I started working from home about 3 and a half years ago, and my baby daughter is now 11 months – I specifically wanted to work from home to be with her. The point about sacrifices is so true – that is probably the most difficult for me – the resentment from friends and family for not spending more time with them, because I am “at home all day”. But a wonderful husband, the Lord’s grace and daily baby steps makes it possible. I also have some resolutions for 2012, like keeping up exercise, no matter how tight a deadline is :) I am truly blessed by your blog!

    • It is hard when others don’t understand the sacrifices that we are making in order to make things work and be home with our children full time. I have had that same struggle many times, when someone was hurt or resentful or simply didn’t understand why I didn’t have more time to spend with them or why I am so busy. It’s so important that you and your husband are on the same page, and that you continue to seek the Lord’s wisdom and grace as you walk this out. When you know that you are doing what the Lord has for you, and that your husband is in full support of you, it becomes a little bit easier to be affected less by the negative opinions of others. And I have found over time that although many people don’t understand, I also establish unexpected connections with other women who absolutely do understand and then those relationships become a real source of refreshment and encouragement. :)

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  1. [...] Managing Life as a Work-at-Home Mom [...]

  2. [...] Managing Life As Work-At-Home Mom – I love this post because a) Stephanie knows what she’s talking about – she lives it! and b) she gives some great, practical tips that you can actually apply to life.  Plus she shares her schedule and lets us know how she actually keeps the balance in your own life with family and working!  Sometimes, drawing those lines and keeping priorities on the family can be challenging. [...]

  3. [...] @ Keeper of the Home on January 9, 12in Blogging, Family life, Homemaking, Making moneyAs I shared last week, I think that working-at-home is an amazing and viable opportunity for many women who wish to (or [...]