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You’ve probably heard the saying before that “Motherhood is a journey”, or something along those lines. That is definitely a true statement. I’ve experienced some of my best and worst moments in life while being a mom. It is such a blessing to be a mom, but it is extremely challenging. Although I love being a mom, I also desire to have a job outside of being a mother. Let’s be real though, being a parent is a full-time job in itself! When I found out that I was pregnant I worried that I would lose myself in the role of becoming a mom. I sometimes became afraid that I would lose my passions because of the new role I had consumed. It didn’t happen, but it almost did. Early on I recognized that I was so consumed with being a mom that I didn’t prioritize myself. I knew I couldn’t continue to go on like that; so I made the necessary changes in my life so I could once again be the mother my baby needs me to be and the woman I need myself to be.
Returning to Work after Having A Baby
This is such a hard thing to do! I wished I heard more people talk about how difficult it is to leave your baby once you return to work. I was not prepared for this transition at all. My first day back at work was when my son was 15 weeks old. Every part of my body hurt to leave him at daycare that morning. When I got to my office at work I closed my door and let the tears start pouring down my face. I was still nursing/ pumping at the time and my body craved to have my baby once again. Although I hated every second of it I sucked it up and continued to work. Everyday I repeated the same process. Drop him off at daycare, cry on the way to work, think about him all day at work, then snuggle him all night once I get home from work, then repeat. It was so tiring and the mom guilt was wearing on me! After doing this dance for about 5 months, I was given the ability to work from home. I was so thankful to my employer for allowing me to do so. Working from home with my baby has been a delight. Even though I do work from home, I still began to struggle with maintaining a work life balance. Since I was home, I was logging on to work earlier than I have before and also working later. I knew something needed to change to maintain a healthy balance with all I have going on.
Have A Designated Work Area
If you started working home during the pandemic then I am sure you had to get a little creative with your work space. I’ve seen people have books stacked high that have been made into a desk, working at their dining room or kitchen table and even working from a table tray that they use while in bed. Do whatever works for you, but just work in a place where you know you will have minimal distractions and be productive. For me, I know that if I plan to work from my bed that I will not get much work done. Actually, I would never even get up! Haha. My “office” is a little nook that we have ajar from our kitchen. I have desk space, a comfy chair and it’s in a convenient place that allows me to see my son playing while I work. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself about your office. It doesn’t need to be a whole room dedicated as an office. Just have some place where you can focus and get in your zone.
Get the Proper Amount of Rest
Sleep can be a great contributor to your life balance. If you are not well rested then that will impact all of the activities you do that day. Have you ever gone to work with just a few hours of sleep? Maybe you had an emergency that kept you up late or you just stayed up watching tv. Either way, it was probably hard for you to focus all day and you were most likely not productive. It’s almost a day of work gone to waste. Then you have to use the next day to make up what you were not able to complete the day before. Soon enough you will have created a pattern of being behind– all thanks to not enough sleep! Tiredness also affects your attitude. So let’s say you are able to get your work done, but after work you are cranky and not able to make the most of your time with your family because you are sleep deprived. Not only will you be grateful that you have gotten enough sleep, but the people around you will be too!
Set A Schedule and Stick to it
I live by my planner! If you want me to commit to something then just make sure I write it in my planner, because that’s the only way it’s going to get done! I pride myself on being an organized person at work, but it’s different to be organized at home. When work is at home with you, it can be hard to set the necessary boundaries; but it is absolutely necessary. Using a planner to plan out my day has been a game changer. Now I don’t use my planner as much since I have gotten used to it, but if you are just starting then I highly recommend doing this. Block out your work hours in your schedule. Then go in and write in any breaks that you take during the day, including lunch. Now block out time dedicated to family. It may seem a little weird at first, but trust me this helps. If you work the most common work hours 8-5 or 9-5 then the best time to schedule family time may be around 6pm. Just do whatever works for you and your lifestyle. Have a plan for what you will do with that family time. Maybe you will cook dinner or order takeout then play a board game. Are you a puzzle family? Maybe you just like watching movies together while cuddled up on the couch? Do that! This is your time to intentionally be present with your family with whatever you enjoy doing together. If you work on the weekends, then make sure you also schedule family time then too. If possible, make one day a rest day. Just pick one day a week, maybe a Saturday or Sunday, and don’t work at all. Do something that you can enjoy with those you love. Go to the park with your baby or if they’re not old enough to enjoy that yet, just bask in baby cuddles and do some tummy time.
You Don’t Have to Get it Perfect
I still have days where my work meetings run late and it overflows into family time. Since I’m in school as well as working, sometimes I have to study or work on assignments instead of going over the ABC’s with my son; but it’s not the end of the world if my schedule is slightly interrupted. I still have time to pick up where I left off. The goal is not to get it perfect; but to make strides to optimize your time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, you just have to be deliberate about how you use that time.
Tips to Help You Not Feel Overwhelmed
It’s okay to occasionally take time off from work. Plan a vacation with your family where you can truly unplug. Even if you take only one day at home and just sleep in and play around outside you are finding a great way to give yourself a break! Also you can try to get on top of work a little earlier. If you have a job that does not require you to work strict hours then you may benefit from getting a head start on your day. Try to wake up an hour or two earlier than normal so that you can have more time during the day to spend with your family. Lastly, you need to get used to stepping away from a task. I really struggle with this one. If I’m focused on doing something it is hard for me to just get up and walk away without completing the task. If you are truly going to stick to this schedule you are making for yourself then you may have to do this occasionally. If something can wait until tomorrow then you can leave it incomplete. Don’t let it constantly stick on your mind either. Be present with your family whenever work is done. If you are going to be thinking about it all night, then you might as well just go back to doing it. This may sound a little harsh, but it is true. You wouldn’t want to be on a date with someone and your date is thinking about someone else the entire time, right? Well treat this the same way! Your family is your date and they deserve your undivided attention.
Working from home with a child (children) can sometimes be challenging but it is completely possible! Just follow the steps that I have listed above and you should be good to go. Give yourself and the little ones some grace. Working from home will be lots of trial and error for a little while but ultimately you will find a good routine that works for your situation. I have been working from home for about a year and a half now and I am still having to make adjustments to better fit family time into my schedule. Stay consistent and over time you will find your groove.
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