When I tell people I work from home two days a week and in the office three days a week, they first say how impressed they are that my employer offers a flexible work schedule option. Their next response is usually a question: “How do you get any work done?”
I could quickly give an answer to that when my daughter was only months old, sleeping 15-plus hours a day, and not crawling or walking. She would occasionally cry or whimper, but as long as she was fed, burped and changed, managing her, my work and house now seems like it was a piece of German chocolate cake. When I had research to do for my job, I use to read papers and articles out loud to her (and me) and she would just sit in her bouncer, kick and giggle with glee. I kid that at age 2, she probably has more knowledge about health care than the average adult!
Oh, those were the days. Now, if she’s quiet and alone in a room for more than a few minutes, there may be some unsolicited milk, crayon or Vaseline artwork on our microfiber couch, beige carpet or in books that were not made for coloring.
Mothers who work from home actually juggle three jobs -- employee, mother and homemaker -- and doing all of these with a mobile preschooler is challenging, but doable. I’ve placed a few things into practice that I hope can assist you, whether your work at home is an assignment from an employer or the laundry for the week.
1.) Write an outline for the day. The outline should include scheduled breaks dedicated to time with your child (15 minute breaks and a break for lunch) and naptime (for your child of course).
2.) Rip the outline to shreds and throw it in the trash can.
3.) Dig in the trash can to recover and piece together the ripped up outline. Although you can’t predict a day with a preschooler, planning for the day still helps.
4.) Make sure you have age-appropriate toys that assist your children in entertaining themselves.
5.) Embrace educational television in moderation. I know many people think television for children is the antichrist, but certain programs can entertain and educate your children and give you some time to concentrate on work.
6.) Take advantage of time your child is sleeping. I schedule my work to begin before she wakes up and I plan conference calls or work needing my undivided attention during her naptime. I also work “after hours” if necessary, particularly once my husband comes home from work and can care for our daughter.
7.) Get some help. See if there is a “Mommy’s Morning Out” at a church in your neighborhood or ask one of your friends who has some free time during the day to take your child to the park for an hour or two. Maybe you can get someone to help you with some household cleaning.