Tips for Being an Effective Work-at-Home Mom (WAHM)

woman on couchMy toes were so cold I couldn’t feel them, and my fuzzy socks were doing no good whatsoever. I looked at the slide deck I was making for a client on my laptop, and decided I could do this elsewhere. The bathtub, to be exact.

I ran the hot water with some bubbles, placed the bath tray across the top and settled in to continue my project. This sounds like a dream come true, right? While so many were fighting the wintery commute a couple months ago, I remained snug as a bug in my little home.

Being a work-from-home mom isn’t all bubble baths and sweatpants, though. I mean largely, but not all. When I decided to make the move from a local marketing agency to starting my own writing and editing services company, the transition to isolation was real. Although I was receiving rave reviews from my budding client list, my self-confidence took a hit as well. There was something about not being out and about that started to get to me, plus my partner was getting fed up with my incessant need to check into work all the time.

It has been nearly eight months, so I have learned some tricks as a work-at-home mom, but I’m sure I still have improvements to make.

Move Around the House

As I mentioned above, moving to the bathtub to work renews my commitment to projects and breaks up the monotony of being stationary. If there was a video camera during my workday, I’m sure it’d look quite comical or like I’m a victim of Paranormal Activity. I move to the kitchen table, the table on my back deck, the couch, even my bed sometimes. The main focus is getting in a space where you can be motivated, productive, and comfortable.

Leave the House

Just like going into the same office starts to feel dull, being within your own home is clearly even more so, because that is both day and night. I don’t think I started working outside the home until my kids were off from school one day and getting restless. They requested a trip to the nearby McDonald’s with the play place and I thought, well sure, why not. They have Wi-Fi … and french fries. Going to a coffee shop, restaurant, or library rids me of some isolation woes, even if I don’t visit with anyone. And this brings me to another point…

Get Ready

“I feel ugly.” I said to my partner one evening. “What??” he wrapped his arms around me, “How can you even say that?” Maybe it’s because I hadn’t brushed my hair, put on makeup, and was wearing his sweatpants with a Chiefs hoodie that had been in rotation for probably seven days in a row. I totally advocate for a fresh face, but sometimes it just feels better to have eyeliner on, you know? I’m more likely to put on jeans and wet down the cowlick on the back of my head to be presentably flat if I’m to leave the house. But leaving the house isn’t a necessity all the time. There are those sluggish days where I haven’t seen my curves or a comb for awhile, and I  feel better about myself (and my work) if I just look good for me.

Set Boundaries

I know both the kids and my partner realized starting my own company would make me busy, but they finally got fed up with my absence. At first it was just gentle questions like “Do you really have to be doing work right now?” on an evening or weekend, or worse…when we were out on one of our stellar family dates. But soon enough, it affected every single one of us negatively, including myself. Enough was enough, I decided to set boundaries of when I would complete work, check emails, and respond to messages. I know when I get older, I’m not going to look back at these years and think about that quote I put together for a prospective client on the weekend. I’m going to think of the memories I’m making with my family, and no paycheck is worth sacrificing that.

Plan Happy Hours

Or whatever is your social speed. I live north of the city, so sometimes friends come out to me, or I’ll venture into town. I have found I have more energy for my friends now that I’m not working in an office where the extrovert portion of myself was expended on people I wasn’t as excited to talk with. Plus, it energizes me to hear their latest experiences and bounce ideas off of someone other than my cats. PLUS plus, it’s my personal public service announcement as a KC blogger to implore you all to not take Kansas City happy hours for granted. As a former small town girl, I want to tell you that they don’t actually exist in other places. Can you believe? There are a lot of really stellar menus which are also really affordable. You owe yourself to partake and enjoy.

Get Rid of Distractions

A lot of couples have a difficult time splitting up domestic work equitably. When one partner works at home, this gets even harder. Gone are the days of working for a company who has a cleaning crew. I usually wake up and start the day at my kitchen table. Then I notice the little bit of shredded cheese on the floor from last night’s dinner. Then I hear the cat kicking litter out of their box in the laundry room. Then I think about pulling out some chicken to thaw to prepare for dinner. You can probably guess what happens next. I’m cleaning the cat box, sweeping the floor, starting laundry, etc. Worse yet, I haven’t prioritized breaks, so folding laundry actually becomes my break time for work. If this sounds all too familiar to you as a WAHM, refer to the leaving home paragraph above. If you’re going to be distracted by household happenings, remove yourself. I haven’t tried out a shared workspace/co-working alliance, but it is a sensible idea if you fall into a domestic trap during your workday.

I certainly have no regrets making the change to business owner and working from home, even with some bumps along the way. There is a learning curve and adjustments to be made when making this type of change, and I hope my insights help!

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Hi, I’m Lizzie and you could say…I’m a little wild at heart. I’ve tried on a lot of different jobs, 9 different towns, 3 marriages-but now I’m home. I absolutely love KC. I have my own business, Lizzie Scribbles LLC, where I offer a complete range of writing and editing services. My partner, Greg, and I live in North Kansas City with our 3 children – Grayson (8), Kase (7) and Adria (6). We love music, cars, and family date nights.