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The pressures on a work-at-home mom are unique, and there are a few things that always work, while keeping yourself sane in the inevitable chaos.
I’ve largely identified myself as a homemaker, though I’ve (almost) built a new career now, working from home in the last five odd years.
Yes, I have been another mom struggling to come to peace with her motherhood, trying desperately to untag herself from the looked-down-upon ‘housewife’ and ‘homemaker’ titles. If you are one of those mommies like me, I hope and believe that you can get some realistic insights from my two cents on working from home.
It is essential for work-at-home moms to be aware of the power of an organized home. By organized, I don’t mean tidy floors and a clean kitchen. To understand how organized your home is, try answering the following questions:
That’s what I mean by an organized home! Everything has a designated place in the house, and most importantly, everyone at home is aware of it. Well, what has this got to do with a work-from-home mom’s productivity?
As a work-at-home mom, we don’t notice how often we spend time to find and hand over the requirements for the rest of the family. How we become the sole mystery finder Goddesses!
Instead, what if everyone knows exactly what to find where?
That’s the power of an organized home!
If you were to begin organizing your house I suggest you first declutter what’s not needed. Do you see a bunch of bills on a dusty rack which you have been thinking to sort out for a few months now? Have you been piling up your baby’s old clothes in the wardrobe which you aren’t sure if it would fit her any longer? Is there a toy bin full of toys untouched for months now?
Discard. Donate. Recycle. Then, sort the rest!
Of course, the problem now is to maintain what you have organized. The kids are not going to put their toys back where they belong. The father is not going to leave the helmet where you want it to go. Yes, you might have to do the sorting out most of the days. But, when they want to find something, they will know where to look for instead of bugging you to leave your chair. Got it?
At one point (precisely, the day when I used the old, comb-cleaning tooth brush to brush my teeth), I realized that if I had to work from home, I had to simplify much of the things at home.
I feel laundry-friendly until the stage of taking-off the dried clothes from the clothesline. Post that, it’s always pile-on-the-chairs. Five minutes before guests arrive, the pile moves to the bed. Two minutes before bedtime, it’s thrown on the sofa. From there, it goes chair-bed-sofa until the family pulls out all of it, one-by-one, day after day. Recently, however, I found an end to this laundry circus. I bought a huge clothes stand which can accommodate nearly a hundred hangers. Not only has it saved me from folding and arranging, but also has given a new visibility to all the existing clothes at home.
Look around. What’s the most troublesome or time-consuming work routine? Can you simplify it? Arrange school bus for drop? Cut down on the elaborate cooking rituals? Hire a baby-sitter for a couple of hours? The idea is, discover or invent what you truly need.
Quit getting recycled in the age-old systems, forever!
Personally, I don’t prefer to work out a strict time table. With kids around, you might not be able to check mark one after the other as planned. And it can leave you with a sense of futility which you will eventually vent out on your kids and husband on top of carrying a storm in your mind for the rest of the day.
Rather, I believe in setting up a rhythm. On any given day, your kids must have a sense of awareness of how a day would pass. Say, after they are back from school, when they fairly know it is going to be lunch-crafts-snacks-park play-bath-dinner-brush-story time-bedtime, their flow of the day shall ride calmly. It’s not time but a rhythm which is important to children.
Confining, for instance, dinner between 7 and 7.30 can make dinner almost breathless. Instead, freely embracing a delay of a few minutes later than 7.30, knowing that brushing and bathing times which are to follow can be adjusted, helps us and children to breathe freely. In other words,
A schedule is breaking the day into smaller tasks, while
a rhythm is, going along with a fairly-expected flow of the day.
I’ve observed that when I tell my son, “From 3 o’clock to 5 o’clock, it’s mommy’s work time. You mustn’t disturb,” he perceives it as ‘Momma is just giving another piece of advice.’ As a child, his sense of time is still under progress. However, when I tell him, “After lunch, it’s your crafts time and mommy’s work time. We will focus on what we do,” he gets geared up to look forward to it. And when every day, it is always crafts time after lunch, he understands in the background, what is expected of him when mommy is working.
As I sat down to work today, my son poked a question: “Why is it T-R-E-E when T-R-E sounds the same?” I could comprehend that it was a good question but my reply was sharp: “That’s how English is!” The next minute, I stopped to analyze what made my response jump down my throat. That’s when I picked out the sad story of the Juniper plant from behind the scenes.
I had bought a bunch of plants from the nursery last week. Of all, the Juniper plant began to wither its leaves soon after re-potting. I have been thinking to read about Juniper care in the internet but I’ve been putting it off for some time now. And this sad story had got me pre-occupied, slowly stealing my sanity away. If I had not identified the Juniper tale and cared to stop, analyze and complete the reading task, it would have further dug a hole into my work productivity, not to mention, my boy would have got the highest share of my insanity.
Yes, we’ve read and heard a ton about mindfulness and mindful parenting. Unfortunately, our vices often mask the good things and all the mindfulness we read about gets out of our minds in no time. Yet, here’s something tangible to do:
Every time you pull your chair closer to your work desk, ask yourself,
“Do I feel pre-occupied?”
If yes, close your eyes to quickly scan through your thoughts.
Mentally sort-out what needs to.
Here you go!
Because, no one else is going to bestow it on you! Be it a nature walk, yoga, a hot cup of coffee or planning for the day, beginning the day before the on-demand time zone begins, can help us orient ourselves toward the everyday rhythm.
Yes, the home is organized. Well, your children are sweet. Good, you feel calm. Although everything you envisage about a peaceful work time is in place, sometimes, the mere lack of a good feeling can make you feel lethargic; especially when you are in your pyjamas and have the liberty to have your feet up on the table or hug a cushion. That’s why we need a surge in the happiness hormones, from time to time. List the little things that make you feel awesome – a hot coffee, a brownie fudge or a lone ride. It need not be in between your work time (better it isn’t!). Rather, when you sense your mood curve is nearing the X-axis, pick something from your list quickly.
You are a super mom, of course; but you are not a She-Hulk. There’s only so much you can do in 24 hours. And everyone who lives with you has a life too – whether you work from home, or at office, or if you do not work at all. As long as nothing and no one feels squeezed because of you working from home, you are doing well. Else, change what you are not doing right. Remember, all of you celebrating your individual spaces in the family is as important as you feeling empowered within the walls of your home.
Image source: shutterstock
Work-from-Home Mom of Two under Six I Blogger I Writer I Erstwhile Biotechnologist
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