Being a work at home parent can afford you great flexibility. Your daughter’s class needs a parent chaperone on the field trip? Sure, you can do it, and you don’t even have to have the boss approve your day off. You want to take your toddler to library story hour? No problem.
However, this flexibility can often also create stress. Sometimes you’re so busy taking care of the kids and the home that you neglect your work.
If your work load is increasing and your children’s nap time is decreasing, there are ways you can manage the stress of being a work at home parent.
1. Set regular work hours.
Set aside time when you know you can work and guard that time protectively. If your kids are in preschool 2 hours in the morning, use that as your work time. Don’t answer the phone; don’t do the laundry; don’t run errands. Use that time to work.
2. Get up earlier to find more time to work.
For instance, if your children wake up at 7 a.m., perhaps get up at 5 a.m. and give yourself 1.5 or 2 hours of uninterrupted time to work in the morning before they wake. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done in a quiet house, and then you’ll be able to relax when the kids get up and spend time with them.
3. Don’t take on too much work.
When you are self-employed, work seems to come in waves. Some weeks you’ll be swamped, and other weeks your workload will be light. When jobs come your way, it can be hard to say no. However, make sure you set boundaries so you don’t end up overloaded at work. If you work part-time from home so you can also care for your kids, you don’t want to let your workload creep up to full-time levels unless you prepare for it by hiring a sitter or having the kids spend time with grandma.
4. Find time to exercise.
This is easier said than done when you have small children at home, but you can find ways to incorporate exercise in your day. Take your kids for long walks in the stroller or chase after them at the park.
5. Maintain your social connections.
Keep your social connections intact by meeting friends for coffee or play dates with your kids. Hire a babysitter so you can take a colleague out to lunch. Talk with other professionals via online forums, Facebook or Skype.
6. Find time to relax.
While working from home sounds like a dream to many, the truth is that your time is usually taken up with either work or kids. However, make sure to set aside some time for yourself. Maybe you decide to quit working by 9 p.m. and take an hour to relax before going to bed by reading a book, writing, or watching your favorite show. Whatever it is that you enjoy, make sure you set aside some time to do it.
Working from home is wonderful much of the time, but it can also be stressful. Follow these tips to reduce your stress and enjoy the time you get to spend with your kids while earning a living at home.
What are your favorite ways to reduce stress if you work at home?