Last year had been a busy one for me. I have focused on editing fiction for clients, and though I was and am extremely grateful for the constant flow of work that enables me to go on doing my thing without hustling for jobs all the time, working from home comes with its own challenges when you have kids around (like I do).
For the good of everyone, I have had to implement some sanity-saving strategies, which I’m going to share with you now.
1. Be realistic. Although working from home frees you of commute and gives you flexible hours, there is no magic – whether you’re working on your own product or providing services for clients, you will have to put in the hours. How many hours per week can you work? Be real. Are you counting on the hours when the children are asleep in the evening? Or the early morning hours before the house is awake? Make a plan. Obviously, there will be shifts (flexibility is kind of the whole point), but your strategy will be different in the scenario of having 20 hours a week to devote to your business, vs. only having pockets of time that amount up to 4 hours a week.
2. Set limits. As important as it is to define your working hours, it’s equally vital to decide when you are not going to work. You may decide that your weekends are going to be totally free. Or that your afternoons and evenings are going to belong entirely to your children until they go to sleep. When you work from home, it’s easy to let hours and days blur together with no definite limits between work and rest. You don’t want that to happen.
3. Nurture yourself. It can be extremely difficult even if you’re “just” a stay-at-home mom – which is a full-time job in itself! If you’re also building up your own business or freelancing, it can seem next to impossible to carve out time to do things that refresh and rejuvenate you, but it’s so, so important because otherwise, you might wake up one morning and realize that your well has run dry and that you have nothing more to give – to anyone. A walk, time with a friend, a quiet half-hour with a book will do wonders for your emotional wellbeing.
In my case, I make sure to carve out time to work on my own books, not just other people’s. I also set aside some time each day, even if it’s just a short while, to do things like crochet and read for pleasure, or watch a video on something that interests me. Usually, I do it at times when I’m naturally less productive, rather than push my brain to do things it can’t anymore.
The latest bout of sickness the kids have gone through reinforced my outlook on the benefits of working from home. Being there in times of crisis – without having to beg your boss for time off or look for a babysitter for sick little ones – is a huge advantage that outweighs pretty much any other consideration in my eyes. No stranger can adequately care for children when they are not feeling well.
If you are determined to work from home, setting your own schedule and being your own boss, you can do it! With some planning, you will find your balance, and begin to pave your way towards an independent lifestyle.