Survival Strategies for Work At Home Moms

I’m a homeschooling mother of six, with number seven due Christmas 2014, and I run a full-time business from home as a pro-blogger and speaker. I certainly don’t have a cape or any special super power, other than I’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other in constant forward motion over the last several years.

Let me tell you, there have been moments on this work-at-home journey in which I’ve felt completely drenched in anxiety. The pressure and strain have been suffocating. It has been during the dark times of trying to figure out just how in the world I’m supposed to handle this load, that I’ve been totally broken and cried out to the Lord for direction.

How, Lord? How in the world am I supposed to bear of all this?

Moms, I would like to tell you that the Lord instantly answered my cries for help.

He didn’t.

He has continued to gently lead me, slow and steady, over these last several years. And I can share with you that I’m still here. My family isn’t bitter that Momma has a full-time business from home. I’m not a complete emotional train wreck because of all my responsibilities. Progress has been made and, more often than not, I feel that I’m thriving in these roles of mother and business owner.

Since I hear from moms who are struggling with the juggling-act of working from home, I wanted to share a few survival strategies for work-at-home moms, based on my experience.

Develop a Routine (and have a back-up plan)

Get yourself and your business responsibilities on a steady routine. Don’t work all hours of the day and constantly break up your family day with business tasks. By all means, don’t block your day into a 15-minute schedule either. Have a general outline of what your plan is for the day.

My general plan:

  • Work 3-4 hours most mornings (4am-8am or 4am-7am)
  • Have a full-on family focused day from 8am-5pm where we get outside together, homeschool, share meals, and more.

 My goal is to have a family-focused day and not a business-focused day.

  • Built in buffer time from 5pm-7pm. This is “extra” time to catch any real life dynamics that popped up through the day. I may have to use this time for business if anything came up that interfered with my usual morning work hours. This time could also be extra family time if my morning business hours spilled a little too far into our morning.
  • I also have ONE business catch-all day a week. On this day, the kids have extra play-time, project time, and make themselves a lot of sandwiches. ;) I sit at the kitchen table, glued to my laptop for 10-12 hours and bust out one long work session. This one day gives me wiggle room on the other days and helps me actually feel *mostly* caught up. Knowing that I have this one weekly workday also frees my mind on other days if my task list is too pressing. I know I’ll get to it on my catch-all day.

Spend Time with the Lord

 My morning coffee and Jesus time.

If you want to see an insane woman who can’t handle kids, homeschooling, blogging, business, and life, just see me if I haven’t spent regular time with the Lord. Jesus is the glue that holds me together. I need 30 minutes to soak in the Word and enjoy a cup of coffee. If too much life is coming at me, I mentioned in the article For Moms Who Can’t Lock Themselves in the Bathroom, that playing an audio Bible throughout our home often sets me straight. Soaking in the Word by any means necessary is a requirement. Find what’s right for you.

Realize Goals are Flexible

My list of goals is huge. How about you?  Do you have monthly, quarterly, and annual goals?  I do. I’ve noticed, though, that I don’t always hit my goals in the time-frame I expect. However, if I just keep pushing forward, head down to the wind, I usually reach my goals or exceed them. Sure, I may be crossing that goal off of my list 2 weeks later than I’d like. However, it still gets crossed off in time, just not my time.

Decide What’s Important

I appreciated that in my friend Tricia Goyer’s book, Balanced, she shared about how she and her husband had to decide what was important for their family.

Already as a work-at-home-mom, your life will not match many of your friends’. Many people in my life don’t understand the demands of raising a herd of children, educating them at home, and handling advertisers, a large social media platform, article deadlines, and pregnancy.

 One of my family priorities is reading to my children everyday. In this picture our daughter is working on her sewing while I read to her.

Your family priorities may not include a lot of outside activities while you’re also working at home. You may have to say no to opportunities that in another season of life may have worked well for you.

Get Outside Help

As soon as you are able, get outside help for your business. At first it was hard for me to delegate tasks within the business. Again, this is another area that I wish I had instant clarity in; but instead, it has taken several years to get my team plugged into the areas where they fit the best.

I’ve learned to make a list of tasks that drag me down. What tasks can I just not get to in a day or a week?  What needs to be done, but I’m not doing it?  I write these tasks down and either hand them out to my current team members, or add more help to fill in the gaps.

When I have the help I need in my business, and creative help in my home, it frees me up to be a full-on mom during the day.

Also, when you’re able, get outside help for within your home. Maybe you have mostly younger children and you need a mother’s helper to come in 2-3 mornings a week. Maybe you need a teen or young adult to come over one Saturday a month and tackle several organizing projects that you would love to get done, but you just can’t get to them. You could also pay another mom who often does freezer meals to make 2 weeks-worth of meals for your freezer. Think about what you need help with at your house and look for creative ways to get help in those areas.

What are your survival strategies for work-at-home moms?

 

This article is by Jamerrill Stewart of FreeHomeschoolDeals.com and JamerrillStewart.TV.

 

Copyright: evgenyatamanenko / 123RF Stock Photo

Relaxing in Your Homeschooling

globe

I have been homeschooling my children for 11 years now!  Wow, I can’t even believe that!  I actually have a 10th grader and I’m still plugging along.   Homeschooling has brought me so much joy over the years.  It will truly be one of those things when I look back over the years of my life, where I know I will have no regrets that I did it.  The time I was able to have at home with my children has been priceless to me and I will forever be grateful for the memories it has created!

If I had to give advice to younger moms who are thinking about homeschooling or the ones in the middle of it with small children I would say. . . RELAX!    It really doesn’t have to be as near as stressful as we make it.  Your children are learning so much just doing life with you. When you see them older you are going to be amazed at the knowledge they have that didn’t even come from the curriculum that you put so much time into!

I have three children.  I would say a gifted one, special needs (dyslexia), and a creative one, and every one of them just blow me away.  I really thought my second child would never read and never count but I now have an almost 6 ft tall boy who reads on level!  It will happen!  Maybe not in the time slots that traditional school gives, but it will happen.

Isn’t that one of the reasons you chose to homeschool anyway?  So you wouldn’t feel you had to keep up with the standard system?

My fear for younger homeschool moms is that they will spend so many years worrying and stressing that they will forget to enjoy the moments. The moments you first hear a child read to you, the moment your child decides to devour a book in one sitting because they can’t get enough reading, the moment they spell every word right on their spelling list or when they write their first letters.  Don’t let those moments pass without savoring every one!

If you are struggling right now find some ways to make learning simple for a little while:  Here are some ideas:

*Writing letters- this is a great way to help children with their handwriting skills, I have them write to friends and family. You can also have them write poems or stories to grandparents and relatives; I even have my kids illustrate them.

*Read, Read, and Read some more- Reading books to your children is NOT just for your younger ones.  You create wonderful memories when you read great classics to your older children. It creates great conversations and bonding time, some of our fondest memories are reading great books together.

* Field trips- There are so many places to visit locally such as the zoo, aquarium, museums and much more.  We like to take a day trip every six weeks or so where we travel a couple of hours away to see a historic place or museum that is not in our area.  These places are so educational and it gives your kids a love of learning when they get to go somewhere fun.

Educational websites & Apps- This is a great way to bring learning into the house with the new electronic age.  They have apps for everything from multiplication tables to phonics. Some special needs children learn best this way!

Last but not least:

Kids need time to play- there is so much that can be done by just getting dirty in the sandbox, swimming in the pool, using their imagination in their play forts and being with family and friends. In our culture, every hour is structured for kids and studies show that it hasn’t made a big impact on learning, and maybe has even hurt the learning process. Kids need time to be kids; it opens their minds and gives them a love for learning.

Remember, you want to raise children who love God and will have strong integrity more than a high grade point average.  Many times we SAY that, but our actions prove differently.  Great questions to always go back to are: “Why did I start homeschooling?  Why was I so excited about it in the beginning?”  Don’t lose sight of your calling or your reasons, because if you do, you will blink and the years will be gone.  Instead enjoy every moment!!

Blessings,

Angela, Together with Family

Fall Into Grace: 4 Steps to a More Peaceful Home this Fall

Friends, my family has been through quite a year. We’ve been through health issues, unexpected upheavals and big changes – not the least of which was moving halfway around the world to a place we never thought we would be!

Our little family has weathered the craziness of this past year really well. My husband and kiddos are rock stars!

But gals – and I don’t know about you – I’m tired. Body and spirit, I’m weary. I’m still faithfully spending time in the Word and in prayer; but most of the time these days it feels like my prayers are hitting the ceiling and the words from The Word are hitting plexiglass instead of a pliable, open heart.

And my family, y’all. After a year of change and movement, we need some peace. We’re all tired, we’re a little rough around the edges and we’re all a bit on edge.

How about you? Could your heart use a little bit of peace? Could your home use a little bit of peace in this season of back to school, impending holidays and pumpkin-everything?

(Note: “peace” does not necessarily mean absence of action, or even absence of conflict. Rather, a deep seated contentment in your current season.)

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think/feel, “If only someone would calm things down around here I could be the patient and loving wife and mother I long to be!!” You and I both know that we are the ones who set the tone for our homes and families. If someone is going to usher peace into our chaotic lives, it must start with us.

I know.

Fall Into Grace: 4 Steps to a More Peaceful Home This Fall

So, let’s do this together. Let’s take 4 simple steps to make our homes and families a little bit more peaceful this fall (and all the year ’round!).

1. Choose a theme verse. Spend some time praying, searching God’s Word and talking with your husband. Ask God to lead you to a verse to be your theme for the fall. Commit to memorizing it, praying it daily, and talking about it with your family. I’m thinking about choosing Psalm 119:165:

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

I also want to incorporate verses 166-176 into my daily prayers for my family. Print your verse and hang it in prominent places in your home. Is there a song that incorporates your verse? Play it! Sing it! Learn it! The Word of God is living and active and the most powerful resource at our disposal to bring about positive and lasting change in our own hearts and in the hearts of our families.

2. Examine your schedule. It’s hard to have any time of peace or rest if you’re running six ways from Sunday everyday of the week. Talk with your husband and together come up with a plan for how many extracurricular activities in which each child can participate. We can’t do everything, and we shouldn’t try. For our family, in this season, our rule of thumb is one extra activity per child. That may change over the years, but for now it works for us. Decide for yourselves, too, how many extra things you will participate in. Do you really need to lead the women’s Bible study at church, coordinate the nursery rotations, make snacks every week for the youth group and go visiting the homebound every week all while running a blog, personal business website and planning your next mission trip? By all means, serve!! However, let’s find the places He is really leading us, and serve there. It will free our energies to cultivate peace at home, and it will free up ways for others to serve!

3. Concentrated time alone with God. My quiet times have been struggling lately. Oh, I’ve been in the Word. I’ve been praying…or trying to. But as I look ahead to cultivating a season of peace at home, I cannot give (or cultivate) what I myself to not have. We need hearts at peace in order to be agents of peace in our homes. Set aside time daily – a good chunk of time where you will have minimal interruptions – and really spend time with God. You may just need to sit quietly at first and focus on His presence to allow your heart to soften and open. If you’ve been through some stressful times this year, you may have been building a protective wall around it without realizing. This time can be early in the morning, during nap time or after the kids are in bed. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you take it. Set a reminder on your phone, write in on your calendar. Protect this time like your life depends on it – because it does.

4. Accountability and Encouragement. We cannot do this parenting gig alone. Find some friends from church, work, other school moms, whatever to come along with you on this journey of peace. If, like me, like-minded friends in person are a rare find, there are loads of online resources to help you, too! The past few years I’ve been participating in the Making Your Home a Haven Challenge from Courtney at Women Living Well (this challenge will run again this year, every Monday in October). Last year I fell in love with the book, Autumn Bliss, from Denise Thompson. So many great ideas for cultivating peace and rest in our homes.

So, are you in? Leave us a comment and tell us which one of these steps you’re either most excited about…or most terrified of! :)

Blessings,

Jen Deibel

5 Ways to Move from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed

overwhelmed to overjoyed

Today’s woman wears many hats; we experience this on a daily basis. Whether chauffeuring children to their next activity, bandaging a skinned knee, or washing the last dinner spoon, the responsibilities of wife and mother reflect many shapes.

Maybe you work a job for income, either inside or outside the home. While the work brings additional fulfillment and privileges to your life, it also brings stress.

Perhaps you volunteer in the community, at your church, or for your child’s school. While this is a blessing, it also uses time.

As a woman who, like you, wears many hats, I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Because when I feel overwhelmed, I act overwhelmed; and honestly, this is not a good thing. (I was hoping you might understand?)

On a daily basis, then, how can we really move from overwhelmed to overjoyed? What decisions can we make that will bring feelings of joy and not feelings of alarm?

Today I wanted to share with you a few ideas I’m using to best focus my emotions. Maybe one of these ideas will stick with you and bridge the gap between feeling bewildered and feeling blessed.

1. Think about the daily schedule in small chunks of time, rather than a whole day’s worth of events.

On particularly busy days in our home, I only look at the schedule for the entire day one time in the morning. For the remainder of the day, I focus on a couple hours, or even an hour, at a time.

2. Dwell on Scripture frequently throughout the day.

Keeping God’s Word on display is so important to me. It’s my reminder to remember the promises of God’s provisions and reflect on His grace, mercy, and love. Continually acknowledging that HE is my strength prevents those threatening feelings of being overwhelmed.

3. Acknowledge the blessings in the midst of burdens.

Everyone has their burdens; but the richer woman is the one who multiplies her thoughts on her blessings. Sometimes I personally feel overwhelmed by my daughter’s special needs. Perhaps someone who is scheduled to help care for her doesn’t show up and this causes a ripple effect on my availability to care for my other children. Or if I begin to think about all the things she is no longer able to do, then fear of the future begins to wreak havoc on my spirit. Instead, I focus on the things she can do and thank the Lord for those abilities.

4. Recognize and enjoy moments of joy and fun.

When a moment of joy arrives, whether it’s a text message from my husband, a card in the mail, or a kiss from my baby girl, recognizing its value can mold my outlook for the next hour.  Savoring the simple things in life certainly brings joy.

5. Pray for a change of spirit when the feelings of being overwhelmed begin to peak.

When my head starts to spin a little and things are moving faster than I can keep up with, then asking the Lord to give me direction makes all the difference.

What have you found to prevent those feelings of being overwhelmed? We’d love to hear from you today!

Rachel at RachelWojo.com

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