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 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
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.
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?
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