I’ve written a lot in the past about being a work from home mom, from a sample schedule to just a simple how to work from home with a baby. But today, I thought I’d write more generally about what it’s like to be a work from home mom. Right now, I’m home with my two-year-old and my 11-month-old. On top of that, I work a full-time remote job, I’m currently in online school for second bachelor’s, and obviously, I run this blog (actually, two blogs.) This is a lot, as you can probably tell, so I have things set up so I don’t lose my mind. So, let’s just go through some things that are crucial to know if you’re going to be a work from home mom.
It can be really difficult
Being a work from home mom is incredibly difficult most of the time. Managing both sides, daily childcare and a job, takes a lot of energy and emotional regulation. You’re tired, and there’s so much to do. You’ll often feel like you’re neglecting either your kids or your job to try and keep up.
There are some absolute pros to being a work from home mom, including having that income and being with your children. You avoid that huge childcare cost too. Being able to really see your kids grow up and not have to worry about money can be a huge blessing. But if you’re considering this life, I don’t want to sugarcoat it either. It’s a lot. Every single day is a lot.
You need a schedule and structure
While there is some flexibility in my day (there has to be), for the most part, I have a set schedule for myself and my children. What works for me is getting up at 5 AM, working until it’s time to do breakfast, focusing on my children during the morning, working aggressively during naptime, more playtime in the afternoon, and then working in the evening when my husband gets out of work.
I’m very lucky because my boss is so forgiving and understanding. As long as everything gets done, she doesn’t mind when and how I work. This has been a lifesaver. It allows me to set my own structure and create something that works for me, my kids, and my job.
Your partner needs to be a partner
More than anything, I could not do this without my supportive and helpful husband. He also works from home, and he helps out during his breaks. He takes over childcare after he gets out of work and does most of it on weekends. He has full ownership over bath time. I will do their bathtime maybe once every three months if he’s gone or something. On top of that, he does a lot of housework, including cleaning the kitchen every night, and he does all of the grocery shopping. If he weren’t contributing as much as he is, being a work from home mom would be near impossible.
He also understands that he does not understand. Because he’s often on the phone, he gets to go upstairs, close the door, and focus on his job. I do not have that luxury, and I’m simply managing more things. This is on top of constant childcare. For me, I find it emotionally helpful to know that he understands that he does not understand.
If you don’t have a partner who is a true partner, they need to step up. I would recommend the book Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, which talks about the inequities between men and women when it comes to domestic labor. It’s great at getting your partner to understand what stepping up looks like and how simply asking, “How can I help?” isn’t helpful. The author also has a card system that can help couples figure out who has full ownership over what tasks. If your partner refuses to step up, then they’re not a partner, and you might have some things to think about.
You have to be flexible
Yes, I know I said you needed a set schedule and structure, but flexibility is key too. Things are going to come up. Kids are going to get sick, appliances are going to break, and life is going to happen. I think it’s all about having a plan but understanding that the plan might need to shift as you go along. No plan means you have no idea what you’re doing, and being too rigid with a plan means you can’t roll with the punches. So, include some wiggle room in your schedule, set up a structure that can be flexible, and make sure your situation works for you and your needs.
This includes your work set up for the record. As I type this, I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop as my son plays around me. I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t able to literally work anywhere in my home.
You need time to focus completely on each thing
As a work from home mom, you’re essentially working two jobs, and you need time to effectively do each job. This means you’ll need time to focus solely on one job every day. You need dedicated time to focus on your children and dedicated time to focus on your job. Your job time will typically be while they’re sleeping, but you’ll also need to find time in your schedule to give them your attention. Giving your children that dedicated time will help you feel better about working, help them play independently outside of that time, and create that space for them to learn and play with you.
You need your sleep
I know. I get it. When you’re a mom, you have so little time to yourself that it can be tempting to stay up late and scroll through TikTok or watch TV. And you can if your schedule works in a way that you get to sleep later. But if you have to get up to work, then you have to get your sleep. Work it out with your partner so you both have some time to yourselves throughout the day or week. Then, go to bed every night at an appropriate hour.
Personally, I go to bed at 9 most nights because I get up at 5 every morning. This is especially frustrating for me since I’m a night owl, but it’s what functionally makes the most sense. So, seriously, get as much sleep as you can. You’ll be better off for it.
You have to actively avoid burnout
With working two full-time jobs plus everything else in your life, you can hit burnout real fast. It’s exhausting, for sure. This means that you need to actively avoid burnout. A lot of people think that the best thing to do for burnout is rest, but that’s actually not the case. Is rest important? Yes, absolutely. (See above.).
But the real way to avoid and cure burnout is to fill your life with things that give you fulfillment and joy. Preferably, most of these things are about you and not about your children. So, it’s important for you to have a hobby or an activity that’s just yours that you can pour into. Bonus points if you don’t monetize it. Because you need something that fills you up when everything else empties you.
You’ll need to learn how to properly prioritize
This is the true key to being a work from home mom. If you can’t properly prioritize your time and energy, then this is going to be extra difficult. You’re juggling a lot of balls, and you need to know which ones are glass and which ones are plastic. AKA which ones will break if you drop them. And this might shift or change as time goes on.
It does help to make a plan the night before. Look through what absolutely needs to get done the next day and make a list. You can even put it in order of importance so you don’t need to think about it as you’re working through your tasks. But this a crucial skill you need to have if you’re going to be a work from home mom.
I don’t want to give you the impression that being a work from home mom is terrible all the time when it’s not true. There is some true joy there, especially if your remote job is flexible and you can spend more dedicated time with your kids. But just like becoming a stay at home mom, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.
Wondering about anything to do with the work from home mom life? Leave your questions below!
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).