I have been struggling HUGELY since I started working on this small business with the incredible amount of “mom guilt” that is associated with it. I have yet to figure out if this comes from society, from other people, from myself, or, what is most likely the case- from some combination of all three! I have definitely gained a new respect for working mothers. In my entire “Mommy” career I have only juggled the aspects of being a stay-at-home mom. Now, DO NOT take this wrong, I completely appreciate the fact that a stay-at-home parent is in and of itself, a FULL time job! I remember growing up, my dad (who was a doctor mind you) used to say if you could tally up all of the jobs my mom did as a homemaker, the amount of money she would make in a year would FAR exceed his income as a surgeon. I completely agree with this sentiment. However, personally, adding now to that load an attempt to start up a small business, well my plate is MORE than full. I have been driving myself absolutely crazy trying to still do everything I do in a day with the kids AND the business. And in trying to juggle all of this, the mom guilt has become UNBEARABLE!
So, in an effort to maintain my sanity, and hopefully encourage other moms/parents out there who work from home, I have come up with a list of “5 Reminders for the Work-From-Home Parent”
Number one: TV IS NOT THE DEVIL!!! On any given day I try to really limit the amount of screen time my children take in. We have all read the countless studies that show the negative and lasting impact too much of this can have on our kids. We read these things and naturally as parents, we cut the time on those devices way back. Which is the RIGHT thing to do. I still believe that. However, I have learned in my recent endeavors, that the television is not ALL bad. There are times when I have to sit down at the computer to respond to emails, work on certifications, taxes, make some phone calls- whatever the need may be. Some of these things have to happen during what is considered “normal business hours” (I would argue though that parents who work from home understand ALL waking hours ARE business hours!). I used to only work during nap time, but that would result in every other household chore being neglected which was NOT working. So, I have had to tell myself that the television is not going to kill them! Typically I put a limit on WHAT they can watch, making it educational, partly in an effort to make myself feel a little bit better. (though we LOVE a good soundtrack around here, so The Greatest Showman or Moana will still win out every now and then 😊) I remind myself they are safe, they are loved, they are provided for, this time is NOT hurting them. Is it ideal? Probably not. Is it necessary at times? Absolutely! I have also recently found a GREAT alternative to the T.V. which holds their attention almost just as well while still allowing me to be productive, and that is ALEXA! We have put several children’s books on our Echo Dots, and the younger kids will sit around and listen to Alexa read to them sometimes as long as an HOUR!! It’s wonderful. I highly recommend it.
Number Two: DINNER DOESN’T HAVE TO BE FRESH AND HOMEMADE EVERY NIGHT! This is a hard one for me. I had finally gotten in the habit of meal planning, cooking at least 4-5 times a week BEFORE starting up the business. Nowadays, I am lucky if the thought “what’s for dinner tonight” has even entered my mind before 3pm each day. I know this post may illicit some negative responses, but I have said all along I’m going to be real! Well, these days we have had frozen pizza too many times to count. ( I feel better about myself when I had fresh spinach on the side, but that’s definitely not what happens the majority of the time) A few more “regulars” at our house currently are “Brinner”- consisting of scrambled eggs, bacon and frozen biscuits, Chinese TAKE-OUT and Spaghetti (which at the present time means boiling noodles and dumping a jar of sauce on them). YEA- those have been the staples here the last few months and for a while I was feeling HORRIBLE. However, I made a commitment to myself, and since doing this it has alleviated most of that guilt. For a period at the beginning of everything, I was eating at my computer and the kids would eat at the table with Hunter. However after a period, I realized that I was missing out on a lot of important time and that my presence was missed. One night while I was working and eating alone in the office, Nathan came up to me and asked if I was mad at Hunter. I gave him a weird look to which he quickly responded “Well, you haven’t eaten dinner with us the last several nights.” OUCH!!! That was a stab to the heart… I decided then that I would commit to us all sitting down around the table together regardless of what we were eating, and regardless of what I was “in the middle of.” I realized then that the important thing during this super busy season, is the time and those conversations. NOT the food.
Number Three: IT”S OK FOR LAUNDRY TO PILE UP! Ok, so this one has actually transformed my life! I used to attempt to wash what was dirty each day (regularly failing) so that I didn’t get
behind. Well, when this business venture started that was simply NOT possible. With 5 kids and a husband who gets dirty at work, I just couldn’t get to it all every day. I remember walking past the loads that were piling up feeling like the WORST wife and mother because a hamper was overflowing. I do not remember the exact way this idea evolved (though it seems like common sense), but I realized that we ALL have more than enough clothes to last one week. SO, if I commit to one day a week-putting laundry at the top of the to do list on that day, then we should all be able to get by with clean clothes in the meantime. The first couple weeks I tried it, I’m not gonna lie, the amount of loads I had to do were slightly overwhelming. But now, the freedom that has come with only having to commit to laundry ONE DAY A WEEK, has been MORE than worth it. I try to schedule appointments and everything else around laundry day-knowing I need pretty much the ENTIRE day to finish it, but even if I am up until midnight or later on Thursdays, everyone has clean folded laundry at the end of that day. (well, mostly folded- screw those fitted sheets I will NEVER figure that out) The best part being, I get to actually check something off the list as DONE until the next week!
Number Four- EVERYTHING CANNOT BE DONE EVERY DAY: This one seems like a given, but has proven to be harder than it should be. I try to start each day with a list of things that HAVE to get done and then a list of things that I WANT to get done and then a final list of things I WISH could get done. Now, if I’m being honest, when things are super crazy, that list of tasks I am WISHING done can stay the same for months before anything on it gets bumped up, but it’s still nice to have the list! You never know when you will have a teenager in a super good mood just offering their services out of the goodness of their hearts! (this HAS happened…. ONCE!❤ ) The reason this one has been harder to manage is because I am now a list person. I wasn’t always, but about 2 kids ago I was forced into the list making world and never looked back! My problem now is when I have a list, I don’t care what the “title” at the top says, I want it ALL done before I go to bed. Well, that’s impossible! I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) to cut myself some slack and be OK with not everything getting done. One change I have made that has helped me to do this, which was actually my son’s idea, has been to set a timer each night. When first venturing into the “working from home” role, I was up EVERY night till 3-4am. Needless to say, I was not functioning at full capacity the next day, and it quickly became apparent this was NOT sustainable. So, one night my sweet James asked me how long I work at night, to which I presented my case with all the MANY reasons I was up so late. He then said “Hey Mommy, I have an idea- since you said you are never done with everything, maybe you just need to set a timer on your phone reminding you to quit and go to bed at midnight?” At first I laughed thinking “Oh you sweet child you have NO idea.” But then I remember thinking- maybe there is wisdom in that. If I am really never DONE, and there is a revolving door of “to do” items, my sleep needs to be more important or I’m not going to be able to endure this season. So, that night I set a reminder on my phone at midnight and have tried since then, when that timer goes off, to pretty quickly wrap it up and head to bed! It has helped a lot. What’s the saying “Out of the mouths of babes?” (I wish I had a quarter for every time God has used my kids innocent words to speak truth and convict me of things I needed to hear!)
Finally, Number Five: GIVE YOURSELF SOME TIME OFF! Again, most of these probably seem like common sense and at this point a lot of you may be laughing thinking “Duh Lis” but, like I said, this is all uncharted territory for me!! So I’m still having lots of “aha” moments. This one, for me, may be the MOST important. As parents, moms, we are so accustomed to meeting everyone else’s needs all day everyday, that our needs often times fall onto that “Wish” list that never changes and never gets done. Time off is SO important as a mom, and especially important for parents who work from home. When working from home you literally have NO escape. NO outlet. You sit down to work at the computer and your kids are at your feet, or the long list of household things you need to do just sit there staring you in the face, distracting your mind and making it hard to accomplish anything. A good friend of mine recently transformed my laundry room into an office which has helped hugely with this, but even though I can now close the door, those other things are still looming in my mind like a dark cloud getting ready to dump buckets of ice cold rain on me at any moment in my day. Because of this- I’m finding it is VERY easy to burn out REALLY fast. I just had a talk with Hunter (there may have been a few tears) in which I told him he HAS to take me out of town before I lose my sanity and instead of a trip out of town he’s taking me somewhere to admit me to a hospital! I was being slightly dramatic, but there was a large amount of truth in that plea as well. Working at home as a full time parent, taxi service, maid, cook, family accountant and secretary- AND now running a small business from home, well it’s just like any other job-YOU NEED TIME OFF. Since BOTH of my jobs are at home- I believe that time off has to be AWAY from home. Either a night out, a short trip, heck- I discovered the other night there is a lot to be gained from just taking a solo trip to target for an hour! It was an hour ALONE!! I know so many of you can relate to the target “escape” trips. Could the things I needed the other night have waited, of course, but I needed it to be then! Whatever that time looks like, it has to happen. I’m pleased to report that Hunter and I have a trip ALONE together coming up really soon. (I probably freaked him out the other night which is why that plan was made so fast, but hey, I’m OK with that)
So, to sum it up, cut yourself some slack. We are always our own worst critics. There will always be the “mom shamers” out there, but IGNORE those messages. Ignore the “perfect” mom you compare yourself to on social media because I can PROMISE you she has had seasons as well. You are a good parent, you are working hard for your family, and you are doing your BEST! That is ENOUGH! As I type this I am telling myself the same things OUT LOUD. These busy times tend to come in seasons, so let’s encourage each other and believe in ourselves through them when they come!
Comment below and let me know your thoughts and feelings! I would love to connect with you