MamaVoices: WAHM Tips

“Work From Home” – A great idea in theory, but sometimes tough in practice.  For our latest MamaVoices article, we’ve asked a few of our favorite Work At Home Mama’s for their tips for working and blogging at home.  There are even a few dirty little secrets.  Happy Reading!

I love working from home.  I am always around my kids, I can manage my time how I want and I don’t have to do my hair (score!).  But it can be challenging, too. Work is always at the ready, luring me in and sucking me dry.  (Wow, that will make everyone want to work from home!)  Actually, I really love it, but it is a tricky balance.  Here are the two biggest things that have helped me (try to) achieve that balance.

  • Hire a housecleaner.  This was a tough one for me at first.  I felt like I was shirking my responsibilities as a housewife.  Dumb, I know.  But the fact of the matter is, when you work from home you have less time to do housework.  And I want to spend as much of my non-work time with my kids as I can.  It is not super expensive and is worth every single dime.  And, ah, the euphoria every two weeks when the house is sparkling clean!  I love it!!!!!!
  • Set limits, make rules and follow them!  I really struggle with this. I find I’m always checking email and am frequently distracted when talking with my kids.  Make rules for yourself and follow them!  For example, no computer time before breakfast or when kids are home and awake.  I’m doing better, but have a long way to go.

Good luck to all you work-at-home-parents out there!  It’s worth the struggle, I promise!

-Jane Maynard,

Working from home is no joke.  I spend a huge portion of my days wrangling my preschooler away from the keyboard and dodging conference calls while my eight-year-old practices her Sumo wrestling skills with the cat.  There are several tried and true tricks I use on a regular basis, without which I would have no success at all in the blogging world.

My most successful work comes when the children are out of the house entirely, which is completely *obvious* but sometimes I need to hear it myself.  I spend a lot of time begging my children to ‘let mommy work’ when they need my attention.  It’s easier {and more productive} for all of us if I use my time wisely, utilizing the few precious hours a week when my preschooler is out of the house, happily entertained by someone else. 

The next best thing for me is to trade babysitting with another friend.  It takes time and planning, which sometimes seems harder than just trying to work with children at your feet, but it’s worth it to have uninterrupted work time.  Find someone you love and trust, explain your situation, and offer an enticing bribe for him or her to watch your kids for a predetermined length of time.  It lessens my guilt as a work-at-home mom if the kids are in a structured, happy environment while I’m trying to work.  If all else fails, plop the kids in front of The Backyardigans.  Works for me.  

-Allison Czarnecki,

Handy tips?  Not so much, but I have several dirty little secrets.  All evidenced by the messy photo of my desk, these are true confessions people.

I juggle a few jobs, TodaysMama, Studio 5, Mortenson Family Dental and BabySteals.  The only one that makes a mess on my desk is BabySteals.  Those adorable little blue snack bags, were the steal Monday Sept 29th.  They are little insulated bags that are dishwasher safe (genius), an Oprah’s favorite thing.  And the little pink bags, a steal from the past.

You can see the book Brideshead Revisited, it’s been there for about 2 weeks.  Not sure that I will get to it.  The pile of papers, notes and bills a clue that I really need to get a system.   I have been trying to take more notes on my iPhone, and seriously for the price I paid that little monster should be able to do the dishes too.  Diet Coke, how I love you.  I wish I could say the photo was taken after lunch or dinner, but no.  That’s my breakfast.  I know, I’m working on fixing that.

Hello Kitty notepads ready for quick notes, crappy little speakers that my brother teases me about and yes, that is a roll of toilet paper.  I cannot stand having anything in my nose so I blow my nose about 83 times an hour.  Usually I have tissues but like most things, when I’m at the store I forget.  The iPhone should be taking care of that for me don’t you think?

What you cannot see is the space behind my desk, my office.  Complete chaos, but on the other side of the door are my two little guys chasing each other around the house.  Laughing like mad.  Working from home is not my forte, clearly.  The benefits more than outweigh the mess and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, my advice.  Don’t do what I am doing.  Do not sleep in until the last second, do not work in your pjs, do not work in small pieces all day, and for pete’s sake do not have Diet Coke for breakfast.

-Emily M.,

I consider myself a Stay-at-home Blogger (SAHB), managing my blog, Make and Takes. My blog is a place where I share ideas and crafty tidbits for home, family, and fun. It started out as a simple way for me to share creative projects, but over time, with its increasing growth and readership, it’s become much more involved. With all of this craziness, I’ve had to find the balance between being a blogger and a mother. Here are three things I do to help me keep a blog and a home.

  1. Sticking to a schedule
    If I don’t stick to a regular schedule my house ends up looking like a bomb went off, laundry piling up, inch thick dust, and dishes getting washed on a need only basis! I’ve had to figure out how to balance blogging with the schedules of my school aged children, new baby, and my husband. I try to map out my day and actually schedule time for blogging, bed making, and carpool. Try to find a blogging schedule that works for you, whether it’s early in the morning, late at night, or when kids are napping or at school.
  2. Keeping organized
    • Create an Outline – For each post I outline what to write about and note supplies to have on hand if it involves a project.
    • Detailed Calendar – I keep a detailed calendar of what I want to blog about and when. My calendar isn’t written in stone, it’s important to be flexible.
    • Scheduling Blog Posts – To help me blog daily, I try to schedule my published posts ahead of time (most blogging software provides a function to do this). This way I’m able to blog as much as possible when I’ve got the time or energy.
    • Gather Ideas – I keep a notepad everywhere, in my car, my purse, and by my bedside. Some of my best ideas come to me at night when I can’t sleep or when I’ve just gotten up with child A, B or C!
  3. Having a great support system
    Gratefully, a big part of my blog is crafting for kids, so I spend a lot of time doing fun and crafty projects with my own kids. We have fun cooking, crafting, and reading stories for projects that I later post about. The only tricky part is making sure I have my camera on hand (my kids are getting good at striking a pose and saying “cheese”). I also have a super supportive husband. He gets just as excited about my blog as I do. He’s quite the tech savvy guy, so he’s considered my web manager and has lots of great insight for the blog.
    Even though my schedule seems tight at times, I love being a Mommy Blogger. I’m able to be creative and fulfill my needs, where in turn I’m happier and can be a better mom. I hope these tips help and you’re able to better balance your time being a Stay-at-home Blogger.

-Marie LeBaron,

My dirty secret is actually a clean one: I always wash my face and brush my teeth before beginning work in the morning.  Even if I’m wearing pajamas and my hair’s a mess, I feel more alert and ready after scrubbing off the night grit.

-Erica, TodaysMama

Considering working from home?  Here is the WAHM “must have” supply list:

  • A Laptop.  My wonderful home office (complete with my favorite color orange walls and a custom desk) is right next to the baby’s room so I get most of my work done on my laptop in various locations around the house.
  • Black Pants (yoga/track/lounge style).  When I started working from home I thought, “YES!  I can work in my jammies!” But the third or fourth time your neighbor busts you grabbing the mail in your pj’s at 3:30 in the afternoon you start to realize that you need to make a change.  So pick up a few pairs of black comfy pants – they shout “I’m still in my pj’s!” less obviously than plaid or polka dot printed versions.
  •  A home phone with a “silent” mode.  Your friends and family will equate “working from home” with “available to chat anytime”.  If you want to protect your time, put the phones on silent when you need to knuckle down and get to work.
  • A well-stocked fridge.  Don’t want to eat all of the Halloween candy?  Make sure you can fix yourself a nutritious lunch.  Sounds obvious but I spent one whole day eating M&M’s…and I felt like trash for two days.
  • At least one very stylish professional outfit.  Keep it dry-cleaned and ready at a moments notice.   Just because you work in your elastic-waist pants 99% of the time doesn’t mean that you won’t be presented with opportunities to dazzle a client or colleague.  

-Erin, TodaysMama




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