Working from home can be hard. Parenting and family life can be challenging. Put them together and you’ve got a real battle on your hands.
Or have you?
I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s almost certainly not – but there are ways to make it feel more balanced. To feel more in control.
I’ve fought with myself constantly since becoming a mother, starting a blog and balancing a career. Now with a micro business too it’s even more of a juggling act. I still find it a challenge to keep it all going and to finish every day with a sense of ‘yeah, I rocked this!’ but I wanted to share some of the things I’ve done to find my balance.
01. Finding a schedule that works
This is so so important. When I first started juggling motherhood, work and blogging I was trying to do little bits of each thing here and there. It just wasn’t working. I’d waste ages worrying I wouldn’t have enough time to reply to my emails or write a collaborative post, as I just didn’t have plan for when I’d do it – other than a vague ‘this week’.
For some of us having no fixed plan works well, but for me it was a nightmare. I was unproductive, stressed out and not making the most of my energy or free time. Things improved a lot when I started working with my life and priorities rather than battling against them.
I’ve found that setting aside a few hours on my at-home days, baby-free, allows me to focus on the rest of my life and only worry about my blog and business during those hours. You might find success in having an hour each morning before everyone else wakes up, naptimes or after bedtimes, or every Sunday between X and Y works for you. It might take some time to get it right but finding a good schedule really helps.
02. Embracing the need to take breaks
Another huge realisation I had was accepting that I’d need to take breaks between work tasks, and that’s okay. While I love setting aside 3-4 hours on certain days for client work I knew that it’d be impossible to work that whole time without the littlest one needing a feed, or stopping for a ten minute break.
It was just something I needed to embrace, so I did. I now plan my days out with enough time for 2-3 breaks for a rest, a cuppa, a feed and cuddle or whatever else needs seeing to… and I’m so much calmer since I did. No more frustration at home life cutting into my ‘work’ hours.
03. Getting the household stuff out of the way first
I really hate household chores. They’re thankless tasks that take up a lot of time and are seemingly endless BUT they’re necessary. We can’t escape them (unless we outsource!).
As much as I don’t love doing the washing up or putting away laundry, doing it first before tackling any of my blog or business work helps so much. It gives me the sense that everything else is taken care of and there’s one less distraction from working. On the days where I’ve taken care of the chores the night before I’m always calmer, knowing that if I’m lucky enough to get an hour of baby-free time first thing I can crack on with writing a blog post or responding to clients instead of tidying.
04. Planning around my purpose
This ties in a lot with #1, but as well as setting a schedule for myself I’ve found a lot of balance by deciding what my purpose is and making that my priority.
I love blogging and I love working with clients on their social media or blog, but with little ones my overruling priority is my family. To some people this makes absolutely no business sense but I’ve actually found the opposite. It means that I’m taking care of myself, my family and that makes me a happier, healthier person. It also means I attract clients, friends and readers who are family-oriented too, with similar goals and a similar attitude to the little things.
Sometimes my purpose does change. If I have a deadline coming up or a really exciting project to work on then maybe we’ll do less activities as a family that week and make up for it another time, or if I’m feeling burned out I might take some time out to learn something new or go to a conference.
By being clear about who I am in life, motherhood and business I find myself surrounded by the right people. Being honest with myself about my purpose helps define my working day just as much as it defines other areas of my life, like spending money or what we do at the weekends.
05. Letting go of perfection
Finally, although I wouldn’t say I’ve ever striven for perfection, it is easy to get caught up in chasing a certain way of living or state of mind. There’s always something that needs doing, another thing on the to-do list. A tidier kitchen, a more put-together daily look, a more organised way of life.
It’s always a good idea to have goals but only to a certain point. Aiming for something is motivational, but juggling too many wants and wishes is overwhelming. It’s been a hard one for me because I like to do so many things at once, but realising that they’re not achievable and they can wait until later has really given me a better sense of balance.
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Now that I’ve shared some of the ways that I balance working from home with a family I’d love to hear yours. Any pieces of golden advice? Maybe you want to share some of your struggles along the way? I read and appreciate each and every comment.