From the moment I quit my job to be a work at home mom, I started thinking about work at home opportunities. I added to our income with teaching music and sewing lessons, taking in custom sewing, and designing and publishing sewing patterns. I threw a paper route, and joined a direct sales company. Then I added a blog and e-books and finally our family menu subscription service. I homeschooled during this time (about 7 years) and now my school age children attend a private school where I teach part time to help with tuition expenses. We are busy.
You knew it without my telling you that the kids play violin, piano and soccer, my oldest is a pointe ballerina, and 3 of the kids have visual processing challenges that require extra Dr visits and therapy.
We need my income to give the kids the opportunities we want them to have, but there’s a catch to working from home. It is still work. It requires time to make a decent living, and being a stay at home mom is already a full time job. So how do you carve out time to work without parking the kids in front of a video or letting them color with markers all over the wall or waking up one morning and noticing the house looks like the next filming location for Hoarders? (Not that that has happened here at all….or anything…ahem.)
1. Be realistic
If you just had a brand new baby or are expecting, you will need to slow down a little. You can’t compare your business growth to another person who is living a different stage in life than you are. It took me over a year to feel normal again after Grant (now 2) was born.
2. Choose a job that can run on autopilot sometimes.
For example, blog posts can be written in advance and scheduled to post. Guest bloggers can help with the writing. An ebook, sewing pattern, or video sales page is always there to handle things and sends the download links automatically. On the other hand, some businesses need you available to do the work, but some aspects may be able to handed off to a helper or automated.
3. Use Videos/TV with boundaries.
It’s okay to use videos to get through the crazy part of the day, but have in mind how much time you are comfortable letting your children watch and then stick to it.
4. Get up early.
I couldn’t do this when I was still nursing a baby, but now that Grant is 2, I can get up at 5am and put in 3 hours of work before I take the kids to school. This frees up my day to get housework done and play with Grant. Then I put in another hour after the kids go to bed—usually while I lay in bed and watch a Netflix movie with DH on his laptop before we lock it down for “Daddy Time.”
5. Use work time wisely.
When you carve out time to work, know exactly what you will do during that time. Have a checklist and make sure only necessary tabs are open on your browser. No distractions. I have to close my email account, Facebook tabs, Pinterest, and turn off notifications on my phone…or I will get completely sidetracked and wonder where the time went. I also have to tell myself to not start spontaneously organizing my desk. Some of the stuff I do as part of my job is scary for me—like writing sales emails or making a video, and I’d do anything to avoid it—even clean.
6. Have activities for kids handy.
If you need to work when the kids are awake, have a plan for what they should do during that time. My favorite thing is to have activities planned that they can do right beside me. I have a Toddler Bucket o’ Fun that I curated from a busy bag swap that we can easily carry to whatever area I will be working in. Here are some of the things in the bucket.
b. A clothesline to tie between chairs, felt clothes and clothespins
c. A paper towel tube to tape to the wall, a bowl and pom poms to drop through
d. A colander and pipe cleaners to poke through the holes
e. Fat Tweezers, egg carton and small objects to pick up and put in the egg spaces
f. File Folder matching games with sticky tack on the back of the pieces so they don’t slide around
g. Felt pizza kit with all the toppings
h. Felt ice cream cones and scoops with pattern cards
i. Large wooden beads and a shoelace to string them on.
Since I am with my little one, I can guide him through putting an activity away before he gets out another one, and try to instill some good habits in the process. I’m also one to get engrossed and may not notice right away if he sneaks away….so all markers are now locked up at my house. I only put some of the activities in the bucket at once and trade them out every so often. That keeps it from getting boring. (I didn’t make all these things myself–I made 10 pizza kits then took them to a swap where I traded with other mom’s handmade activities.)
7. Every month schedule one or two Work-A-Thon days.
These are the days you finally film the entire video class you’ve been dreaming about. It could be a day you research and start writing an e-book you’ve been wanting to start. Maybe you use the day putting together samples for your direct sales business. Or the day you write and schedule a month’s worth of posts for your blog. Get a babysitter for the day (Hi Grandma ) or let your husband handle things while you head to the library or coffee shop and make major strides.
8. Use your children to help with chores.
It is so good for them to learn how to do basic household tasks. The older ones might grumble but if you show your appreciation for any effort, it helps build their confidence. This includes packing lunches. Even my kindergartner packs his own lunch every day. That said, sometimes there’s a need to hire help. When it’s time to pay for help I weigh the expense with how much money I could make using my time for business instead. Then make sure I use that time like I planned (and not reading Facebook updates….guilty.)
9. Use your appliances to help keep meals coming.
Mom’s who work outside the home often rely on their slow cookers to start dinner in the morning and have it ready to eat in the evening. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do the same. I also use my bread machine to time delay homemade pizza crust so it’s ready to roll out at night. Breakfast can also be done overnight in the slow cooker or bread machine. A rice cooker is another appliance that saves me a lot of time. This is all made easier if you have a good menu plan. When I create my menus every week for subscribers, I also include an action plan at a glance guide that reminds them at the right time of the day to fill their slow cooker or bread machine.
If you think a menu plan like that might be helpful (and yes there are dairy free and gluten free options for every recipe) come check it out slow cookers.
Thanks to our guest blogger, Angela here from Grocery Shrink. “I’m so excited to be a guest blogger for Today’s Work at Home Mom. I’m a mom to 6, ages 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, & 2. When my career started, I was a public school teacher. I married halfway through my first year of teaching, and just 3 months later, I was expecting our first child. I wanted to be home with my baby, but with my husband in grad school full time, we relied on my job to put food on the table. After I spent 4 months as a working mother I came home to work. Every one those days, during that 4 months, I left my baby to go to work I left my heart behind.”
Update Note: originally posted in March 2014, this post has been updated and reposted to keep it up to date for our readers. We appreciate all your shares and support!