Help this mama out! Tips for balancing working from home?

Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that I work at home. I love the idea that I don’t have to leave my apartment and travel on the subway to an anonymous office. I don’t have to make conversation with people I don’t really care about. I can be in the comfort of my home, with my kids around me.

However, there are challenges to working at home. I am not an inherently organized person. Therefore, I often find myself in a bind, faced against a deadline and extremely overwhelmed. This feeling of impending doom is also compounded by my children’s needs.

At the same moment that I have to transcribe raw footage for Extreme Couponing, my son, Ari wants a peanut butter sandwich.

When I’m writing about my bumpy road applying for graduate school for  Samara, my daughter, needs a diaper change.

On top of everything else, I don’t have any alone time. I can’t seem to figure out the balance between working and spending time with my kids.

In fact, at this point, I feel like the television is a better friend to my kids than I am. Needless to say they’ve come good pals with PBS Sprout.

Don’t get me wrong, they do play together for short periods, but when Ari and Samara get bored, and I need to finish a project in order to make money and put food on the table, I resort to turning on the boob tube in an act of sheer desperation.

Here’s where I need some guidance. All you work-at-home-moms out there, I need your help! How do I balance work and family life?

editors note: This is a very common problem. Cecily wrote about her solutions in this MomCrunch post. Earlier, I vlogged about my struggles and my readers gave me their tips. Please share some more tips here for Sarah, thank you so much! 

18 Responses to Help this mama out! Tips for balancing working from home?
  1. Debbye
    March 27, 2012 | 4:25 pm

    Hi Sarah!
    I wish I had some ingenious answers for you! I hope some more moms that have mastered this post soon! I work from home (PT) Too, and while it is great and I am SO happy to be able to be at home with my kids, I struggle with the same exact things that you mentioned. I do try to do as much work as I can after the kids go to bed, and before they wake up, and at my toddler’s too short naptimes (he is asleep right now) but it is never enough time in any given day. Especially with housework and homeschooling my oldest daughter! And you are right, there does not seem to be any alone time, or time for me. I assume that it will just take time to get a good rhythm going, and a set schedule, or perhaps I can learn to live on more coffee and less sleep? I hope to hear from more work at home parents out there!!!! I am going to check out the other links and hope to get some good tips! 🙂

  2. Mozi Esmes Mom
    March 31, 2012 | 10:26 pm

    Got nothing for ya!

    Seriously, it’s far easier to get work done when you pack up and leave your kiddos for the day than to try to balance three sets of needs at the same time – I’ve done both.

    If you know any reliable tweens/latchkey kids who can keep your kiddos company for a few set hours, that could be a lifesaver. They get to chalk up some babysitting experience, and you’re still right in the house if an emergency comes up.

    Short of that: coffee, Monsters, whatever energy fixes you can grab, plus a HUGE dose of patience – with yourself… 🙂

  3. Laura
    April 12, 2012 | 11:29 am

    I work from home as a writer and parenting consultant. I also homeschool one of my children. It requires quite a bit of juggling and balance. Here’s what I have learned:
    1- Use Google calendar (or something like it). Schedule time for working time for you and your kids. Try to stick to it.
    2- Make sure some of those blocks of time are for things that YOU enjoy doing ALONE.
    3- Don’t pile on guilt about the TV, but find ways to encourage your children to entertain themselves as well. We are not our kid’s playmates. Create a list of independent fun ideas and let them pick from the list when it is “Mommy work time.”
    4- Cut back. What time erasers can you cut out? Facebook? Internet? If you day is filled with things that don’t fill you up, you will end every day feeling deflated.
    5- Make eye contact and touch your kids often during the day. It’s these simple, intentional interactions that will connect you and give you perspective. Work will always be there, but our kiddos won’t.
    Blessings to you . . .

    • Mommy to the Max
      April 19, 2012 | 1:27 am

      These are awesome tips.

      I love to put my kids on a schedule, but I need to do the same for myself! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Krista
    April 15, 2012 | 7:47 pm

    I have been here too. I will tell you that I found myself feeling extremely overwhelmed. I started working from home so I could be with my kids and keep doing what I love – marketing. It has, over the years, developed into a full-time job. Of course, I had allowed it to go that far by not turning down clients, etc.

    In October I found myself on week 8 of being the sickest I had ever been in my life. No matter what medicine they gave me, I remained sick. At the worst point I found myself on the couch with a 104 degree fever and going in and out of consciousness. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t sick because the docs hadn’t found the right medicine. I was sick because I was overwhelmed, beyond stressed out and starting to hate my day to day life. I also felt like I had failed my children. I worked from home because I wanted to, not because I had to … but now I had to because of the obligations I had to my clients.

    In November I fired most of my clients and kept those that allowed for flexibility in my schedule. I get up an hour or two before the kids get up for the day and I quickly go over my to-do list and mark off as much as I can before the kids get up. From 8 until 11 am I focus on the kids. From 11 to 12 I work in the kitchen and have a laptop that I work from to work on the to-do list. I put the kids in bed at 8pm each night and if I have something that didn’t get done from the list that day, I do it after they are down for the night. That give me four or so hours throughout the day to get my work done without feeling overwhelmed.

    THE KEY to working from home is to make your schedule work around YOU and YOUR CHILDREN. If you can’t fit your work into your day, it’s time to fire clients that are demanding or don’t respect why you are working from home.

    I allowed myself to forget this for a while and payed for it with my health. I feel like my kids missed out for several months as well since I allowed my clients to push me to a place I didn’t want to go.

    Remember who you are, why you do what you do and that those little people must come first.

    Good luck!!


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    April 16, 2012 | 12:13 am

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  6. Terence
    April 18, 2012 | 8:30 am

    At least your children attend a school, you have enough time to do your work. It is good to work at home.

    • funny sms
      April 23, 2012 | 2:49 am

      I totally agree with u terence,Thanks for sharing.I like your comment.

  7. Nicole
    June 8, 2012 | 8:52 pm

    Going through this myself. I used to commute into the city half the week but now I’m home full time – so I’m considering enrolling my daughter (not school age yet) part time in a daycare – for a few hours in the morning (even if I have to pay the all day rate, sigh) just to give me just a bit of alone time. Keeps her away from the TV and gives her some socialization – both positive things in my book. If yours are school age, maybe an after school activity could give you an extra hour?

  8. Heather
    July 6, 2012 | 2:06 pm

    I’ve been working from home for over 5 years, and I concur with everything commented here. I also homeschool my two older children during the school year and am DREADING the day my toddler figures out that “naps are for babies” and stops taking them. 😉

    I’ve come to the realization that when I attempt to juggle my working responsibilities with my mothering responsibilities during the day, everyone looses.

    I’m cranky with the kids, since I can’t get more than 2 seconds to concentrate. The work suffers, since I’m stopping and starting so many times. And my home suffers, since I’m trying to
    wring every moment out for either kids or work. (Laundry? Dusting? what are those things?)

    So we started hiring a babysitter to come once a week to take over. At first it was an older homeschool girl who was excited to make money, but a LOT cheaper than a Nanny. She came on Wednesdays (or I went and got her) and then I went and sat at Panera or Caribou Coffee to work. (Buying coffee and sandwiches is a perk – office rent!)

    So I pull a 12-hour day or so on Wednesday, an additional 6-7 hours on Saturdays (while my hubby watches the kids), coming home at 7pm in time for some Family Game Night Fun.

    And occasionally I’ll squeeze and hour or so out in the evening while my husband does “Put to bed” routine.

    This has worked really well for me. Letting me mentally set work aside and enjoy the kids when I’m with them, handle my home chores, and yet still concentrate on work when it’s time to work.

    Anyway you slice it, working from home is definitely a challenge! Good luck!

    Heather 😉

  9. Mia
    September 11, 2012 | 9:26 pm

    It’s such a tough thing to balance your personal life and your work life when the two are conjoined in the same physical space at home. You always hear about people trying to keep work at work and home at home, but it is tough with those lines are clouded. Having worked at home for the past 10 years, I can tell you it is both a blessing and a curse! Good luck to you 🙂

  10. Adolph Z. Keller
    May 25, 2013 | 1:48 am

    Writings of a Mrs. Mommy is the Mommy blog to my Writings of a Mrs’s blog. This blog will be more about my busy life with 8 children and the many adventures on how the Mrs. and Mr. manage it all! Humor, stress, love, food and photos will be the main focus. Alex and Jenn plus kids make TEN!

  11. Jonah Mckenzie
    June 4, 2013 | 11:41 am

    • She communicates the need to go before it happens. This can be done through words, posture, or facial expression. Many kids I’ve worked with will often hide in a corner or turn away from others when they feel the need to poop (just before they start grunting and working hard, if you know what I mean!). It’s really cute and pretty amusing. However, some children with sensory or developmental issues lack the internal physical awareness that sends the signal from the bladder to the brain that the bladder is full and needs to be emptied. This lack of internal communication makes these kiddos very accident prone in the potty domain; they may need a more regimented potty schedule as opposed to relying on them knowing and communicating when they need to go.

  12. Sang W. Logan
    June 25, 2013 | 6:43 am

    When I first got there at the brutal hour of 5:45 a.m., I spoke with the anesthesiologist. He explained that first they give babies an oral sedative, so they don’t freak out when the gas mask goes on. It makes them fall gently to sleep. But he did give me the option to skip that step and go straight to gas. Thinking the less medicine the better, I said no to the oral stuff. I knew a cousin of Emmett’s had a reverse reaction and became very agitated.

  13. Sheila Grimes
    July 17, 2013 | 9:05 pm

    There is this myth that you CAN’T be both an working artist and a mom as a woman. That once you latch a baby to your breast you are damned to a domestic life of drudgery. A friend once told me that another female artist asked if she was expecting a baby. When she told her yes, that gal looked at her with sad eyes like she has said she had cancer. As time went on, I’d hear of artists with children agonizing about how they hadn’t been in the studio for YEARS after having kids. WTF? I’d murder someone if I didn’t have studio time!

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    August 4, 2013 | 4:43 am

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    August 15, 2013 | 1:44 am

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    September 8, 2013 | 11:56 am

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