Anyone else have a love-hate relationship with working from home?
Hate may be too strong of a word. And love may be too now that I think about it. For me it’s more like I have a “like-dislike” relationship with working from home.
Before I go on, I should preface this by saying that I know I am very fortunate—I get to do most of my work from home and many moms would love to be able to do that. I’ve made conscious professional choices over the last 10+ years that have allowed me this “luxury.” From home I grade assignments and respond to emails from students in my Sport Psychology classes; I write articles and blog posts; many of my mental skills training sessions are done over Skype, and all from the comfort of my home (or Starbucks, where I type this). There are a lot of benefits to working at home (or outside of a traditional office). I get to wear my pajamas or my workout clothes while I work, I don’t have to worry about my hair or makeup (unless it’s one of those Skype sessions), and sometimes I even get house chores done in between my work.
However, if you work from home, you know there can be challenges to this setup…here are a few areas I struggle with and how I deal with them:
Problem: My office and my TV are very close to each other, which is way too convenient for a reality-show junkie like me. I have to stop myself from “just a few minutes” because that will easily turn into a whole episode (or more!) of any of The Real Housewives franchises…or Botched…or Southern Charm…or WWE Divas…you get the idea. (I could have listed so many more!)
Solution: I let myself watch TV when I’m doing a chore such as laundry. When the laundry is done, the TV is done. Sure, I probably go a little slower because I know I have to turn the TV off when I’m done, but a little bit of a mental break is helpful for me. And, I’m being productive around the house. Win-win.
Problem: When the house is chaotic (which it often is because we spend a lot of time playing at home), it’s a distraction for me. I used to not care much about a messy house but since having a second kid and shifting more of my work to home, I now have trouble focusing when it’s messy. And since I often work while we play (I “multi-task” as E, my almost four-year-old says), I’m often literally sitting in the mess. I struggle with cleaning up the messes (moms—you know there are always messes!) and I find it really frustrating when I’m less productive because of the chaos.
Solution: I try to clean up as I go, and do my best to end the day with a clean-ish home. I’ve tried to create habits like run the dishwasher at night and empty it at the start of the day. This way I can put dirty dishes right in, and control the pile that easily accumulates in the sink. I also realized that E is old enough now to help, and it’s not just my responsibility to keep our house clean. When the playroom or kitchen has gotten out of control, I make a point to spend at least ten minutes dealing with it. It doesn’t take very long to help it look better—it just takes focus. And, I often tackle the kitchen first because I also work a lot from the kitchen table. If the view from where I’m working is clean, I’m more likely to be productive. Sometimes I think I’m just procrastinating from work by cleaning, but the end result is that things are cleaner and I have better focus. So it works out!
Problem: I am home. A lot. I am home for work, and I am home quite a bit with our kids. Now that the weather is getting better I’m out more than I was in the winter months, but still, I can go a whole day with only walking to the mailbox. And sometimes the only trip out is to and from school. This can make me feel very overwhelmed and doesn’t allow me to appreciate the fact that I do get to work from home 75-80% of the time. I start to get a bit of cabin fever and end up less productive.
Solution: Get out of the house. I plan my week with activities or errands spread out during the week. I take advantage of the great activities in the area for kids. I get together with friends. And if it’s been a day in, I make it a point to go outside at the end of the day (which is usually when I start counting the minutes to bedtime) and enjoy our neighborhood. I also make sure to change up my work environment when I can, which usually means going to Starbucks and getting writing, grading, and emails done. And lastly, I work to create a home I enjoy being in. Since N was born, I’ve really tried to declutter, come up with systems that make our lives easier (I’ll tell you more about this later!) and appreciate the fact that I do get to be home with my family (a lot).
Moms who work from home—what are your challenges and how do you deal with them?
This post originally appeared on Get Mom Balanced. Reprinted with permission.