Running a business or working from home is an amazing opportunity, I love my job as a cake decorator & I love that I can run my business from home. But…
I really have to work hard to balance my professional responsibilities with family responsibilities. Archie is at home with me three days a week and has a special needs place at nursery two days a week, I really need to balance my work commitments with his needs and the needs of my almost 14 year old. Given, the teenager is pretty self sufficient but there’s still the housework, the cooking, the cleaning, school uniforms etc etc, you get the jist!
Some weeks I can end up working pretty long hours, this week I have five cake orders so with Archie at nursery 15 hours that doesn’t give me anywhere near enough time I need to finish all my orders so I have to get focussed & organised. So here’s my tips on how to survive as a work from home mum.
1. PLAN YOUR TIME
For me this means working out exactly what needs to be done that week and deciding when I can get each task done & sticking to it. For example, baking is something I can do during the day when Archie is home. I’ll plan a kitchen activity for Archie that will keep him occupied whilst I get my bake on. This is usually drawing or painting as I can sit him in the high chair with his activity & chat & play with him whilst I’ve got my mixer on. As soon as I have some cakes in the oven we can move onto another activity, playing in the garden or living room etc. I can then pop back into the kitchen to check on my cakes without it affecting Archie.
This then means that whilst the cakes are cooling during the day, I can start covering them with buttercream & fondant as soon as Archie has gone to bed. By the time Wednesday & Thursday comes around and Archie is at nursery I can then start to do the detailed decorating where I really need to sit working solidly for a few hours.
2. DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH OF YOURSELF
This is something I’ve really had to work on. I seem to think I’m Superwoman and that everything should be perfect all the time. I’ve had to realise that if I’ve got a particularly busy week with work then something’s got to give, I can’t do everything. The laundry may have to stack up that week or we might have to have a ‘freezer surprise’ for tea a couple of nights instead of a proper home cooked meal. But this means I still get my work done without affecting Archie and the time I need to spend with him to continue working on his progress with his Autism.
3. CALL IN THE REINFORCEMENTS
This doesn’t happen very often as we live about 60 miles away from my family and the hubby’s parents both work but sometimes I need to ask for help with childcare so I can catch up with work. This is something else that has taken me a long time to build up to. It’s not that I don’t like to ask for help, I don’t but I will if I have to, it’s just that most of the time it just doesn’t occur to me to ask for help. I’ve always been very independent, I left home at 16, was a single mum at 19 and spent six years at college & Uni so I’m very much a ‘do it myself’ kind of person. But I’m getting better at asking for help when I need it.
4. SWITCH OFF AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE BED
I know this should be longer but I just don’t have the time, especially as in my business there’s no changing deadlines or getting extensions. Cakes have to be ready for collection or delivery at a certain time on a certain day, but I try to give myself at least 30 mins to sit down before going to bed otherwise I just lie in bed not being able to switch off which just makes me much less productive the next day.
5. IF YOU FEEL YOURSELF GETTING FRUSTRATED, WALK AWAY FROM WORK.
This is one I’ve had to learn the hard way. Let’s face it, sometimes I am being pulled two different directions by a work issue that needs my attention and a toddler that needs my attention. I’ve learned that if it’s at all possible, to go to the park, out for a walk or put together that train track instead. I’m not helping anyone when I’m getting stressed out & frustrated and it definitely doesn’t help me get my work done, I’ll just come back to it as soon as I can.
All in all, the challenges of working from home as a parent are worth it to me as I am to be able to stay at home and pursue a career, the boundaries of home & work are well and truly blurred but that’s why it works for me. I think I’ve finally figured out how to survive as a work from home mum, I just have to keep putting my own advice into practice!
What about you? What are your tips for working from home with kids?