Ashley Does: Salute to Working Parents

It’s Working Parent’s Day.

I know this day is probably supposed to be for parents who work outside the home.

I was that parent for the first 2 years of my oldest daughter’s life. It’s a hard road to walk down. Knowing that someone else witnessed your child’s first steps, or first words, or an injury, or a victory…it’s hard. I have nothing but respect and compassion for parents who work outside the home. Y’all deserve all the props and paid vacation in the world.

This post is geared toward parents who work from home, but I think every working parent will find value here!

I started working from home as a medical transcriptionist after my 2nd daughter was born and we realized that I did not make enough money working full time to send both of our babies to daycare.

It seemed like such a great idea. I’d work at my computer while my angels played or watched cartoons or napped. I would get everything done and my parenting wouldn’t suffer.

I hope you can hear the laughter that followed that last sentence from wherever you are reading this.

Working from home is hard, guys. The inner struggle that I went through most days was completely unexpected – I felt I was neglecting my children or my household duties if I sat down to work for a few hours, and while I was playing with the girls or doing chores I felt that I was neglecting my job. Because of this, I ended up working late into the night and getting up early to work before the kids got up.

I was exhausted. I know that YOU are exhausted, reader. Whether you work from home, work from an office, travel for work, or your job is raising and educating your children – I know you are exhausted. Parenting and the worries that come with that responsibility are exhausting endeavors.

Balancing work duties and life duties can be difficult – I didn’t grasp the concept until my kids were a bit older and I wish I had known these tricks earlier to save us all some grief. I hope that you can implement some of these tips into your routine and save a bit of your sanity!

Five Tips For Creating Your Best Work From Home Life

  1. Schedule

Grab a calendar, a notebook, a planner, or even your phone. You need to schedule work and family time, and stick to it! Don’t let yourself work an extra hour or neglect your paid gig for a day, tempting as it may be. The added stress just isn’t worth it!
Before my girls were in school, I scheduled work time from 5 to 7 a.m. (they usually got up around 7) and from 2 to 4 p.m. (nap time). Now that they are in school, what works for me is scheduling 3 hours after lunch during quiet time for my youngest. Usually my 3-year-old will nap during this time, but I am not above setting her up with a movie or quiet activity she can do alone. If I need additional time to finish my work duties, I’ll add another few hours after bedtime but I really try and keep my evenings open for quality time with my husband.
You will have to find what works for you – even if that means scheduling time and having a neighbor watch your child if they aren’t able to nap or complete a quiet, independent activity.

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  1. Do Not Over-commit

Over-commitment is something that women especially struggle with. Church needs a nursery worker during the week? School needs someone to stuff Friday Folders? PTA needs a president? Your favorite charity needs an event planner? Work needs someone to take on extra duties? We are usually the first to respond, especially when there are people in our lives who believe that we have all the time in the world since we work from home.
One extra activity can work. All of them…just can’t. Learn how to say no, and use it often. I know it’s hard – at one point, I was volunteering in my MOPS group, PTA, and a local family activity blog, working my job AND working a direct sales business. It became too much and it took my husband pointing it out to me to finally get me to use my No. And I have to tell you, it was so freeing! I ended up with more time to spend with my family and to focus on my work.

  1. Join A Group

OK I know I just told you not to over-commit, but if you don’t find a group of like-minded parents, you may start to feel isolated and resent your job or your family. And you definitely don’t want any of that! A local MOPS group, a Meetup group for working or homeschooling parents, even a parent’s night out group will help you make valuable connections that can help you juggle everything in the long run.

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I have so many wonderful memories with these amazing women – who I would have never met had I not joined a MOPS group!
  1. Unplug

In this era of social media and smart devices, we are constantly bombarded with potential distractions. Distractions like this can be damaging to your productivity as an employee and your relationship with your kids. It’s easy to get sucked in to an online community, a phone call, or even TV when you are working on a computer or in the same area as your kids who may be watching a show or playing with a friend. My suggestion is to simply unplug. If you work remotely via a computer, only have the minimum necessary windows open to complete your task. Put your phone in a different room to charge while working or playing with your kids if you can. Leave the TV off in the room where you are working. Be present as much as you can in the activity you are completing – whether that be a work activity or a parenting activity – and you will be amazed at how much you can get done!

5. Fill Your Cup First

If you don’t take some time for yourself, you will burn out. This is true of any working parent – whether you’re working from home or from an office you will not make it very long if you aren’t taking care of YOU! Do something every week that relaxes you or just makes you happy – read a book, go for a hike, take a long bath, dance, whatever it is that recharges you! (For me, that’s pampering. I make it a point to take some me time every week and take a bath and just be alone for a bit)

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If you are a working parent, what are your favorite ways to strike the work/family balance? I’d love to hear what has worked for you!

Until next time,
-Ashley

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