One of the biggest struggles as a work from home mom is finding the time to actually focus on work. There are only 24 hours in a day, and never enough time to get all the things crossed off your to-do list that you want to get done.
A work at home mom schedule is different from a stay at home mom schedule. You have to combine both your household chores and your job into your day, often without childcare. Most of the time moms start a work at home job to be with their kids, trying to work around nap times or when the kids are asleep for the night. The other hours of the day are spent doing chores, running errands, and being with your kids.
One time I wrote down all the things I needed to get done during a day. My morning would start at 4am and end at midnight. So that would leave me with about 4 hours of sleep! There is not enough coffee in this world that would help me live that life.
The truth is I don’t want to sacrifice sleep (all the time) or my kids or my marriage or my work to find success.
I started working from home when my kids were 4, 2, and a baby. I had 2 that would take naps and 1 who was busy all day long. I think one of the most difficult parts of being a work at home mom is that you have to constantly be flexible.
Someone will skip a nap, someone will refuse to eat dinner and then need food after bed time, someone will have an accident, someone will need you to sleep with them at night when you need to work…you get the idea.
We are moms and we are here for it. It’s not an easy job! I just want to encourage you because you are not alone in feeling the constant struggle of working on your business and being a mom.
I’ve put together this list of work at home mom tips that have helped me get more done in my day, and I hope they will help you too!
Helpful Work from Home Mom Tips
1. Choose your top 3 priorities for the day.
Choosing your top 3 priorities will help establish your mindset for the day. Everyone that talks about time management for moms will have you create a schedule and make a to do list. Those things are helpful, but let’s be honest, most of the time you never get half the things crossed off your to do list. It can make you feel like you are accomplishing nothing at the end of the day.
When I created my insane work at home schedule, I included everything every day. I wanted to workout, clean the house, work, spend time reading my Bible, make dinner, play with my kids, run errands, and hang out with my husband at the end of the day. The reality is there isn’t time for all of that in every day.
Now, I choose my top priorities for the day based on our family schedule. This is super helpful when things don’t go as planned. I still use a to do list (my favorite thing is making of a list of things to do!) and a schedule, but when it starts to fall apart I circle my top priorities and know that I can focus on those 3 things. Anything else that gets done is icing on the cake!
2. Create a routine for your kids
Whether you have a baby, toddler, or kids, it helps everyone to have a routine. Establishing a routine makes kids feel safe because they know what to expect. Then you can create space to get to work when your kids have a routine.
When my kids were babies we followed the eat-play-sleep routine. As they’ve gotten older, our routine has evolved to a regular nap time in the afternoon to quiet time in the afternoon (no one takes naps here anymore). The bedtime routine at our house has become really important because I go back and forth between staying up late to work and waking up early before the kids get up. Either way, I need the kids to go to bed on time so that I can work or get some rest so I can wake up early to work.
I also think it helps that my kids know there is time when we will play together, do chores together, and time I will work while they play independently. I do schedule 20 minute blocks to check email or work on a short tasks throughout the day.
3. Time how long tasks take you
Timing how long tasks take you can be helpful in knowing how to schedule your day as a mom working from home. You need to get laundry done, write emails, cook dinner, make lunches, pick up toys, fold more laundry, vacuum, clean bathrooms, write a blog post, reach out to clients, schedule your social media, etc.
How long does each task really take? When I started doing timing my tasks I realized that doing something mundane like folding laundry or sweeping the floor doesn’t actually take that long. Only about 5-10 minutes. Knowing that I wouldn’t be stuck folding laundry the rest of the day really helped me overcome the hurdle of tackling the task.
I also realized how much time I waste avoiding doing certain tasks. When I know I need to sit down and write an email, it usually takes me about 20 minutes on social media or shopping online beforeI actually get started. Making yourself aware of how you spend your time can help you make improvements to your time management as a work from home mom.
4. Make an active to do list
I’ve said before that I love making to do lists. I actually have a family to do list and work to do list.
I call this an active to do list because I’m constantly adding to the list through out the week/month. It’s a way to help me remember important things that need to happen in my personal life and my work life. I know that I won’t get to my whole list every day, that is why I choose my top 3 priorities. However, my to do list keeps me organized.
5. Focus on the tasks that bring in money
There is so much to do when you run a small business, but not every task brings in money.
Start tracking the tasks that are meaningful to increasing your income. You may be wasting time focusing on social media or working on projects that aren’t valuable to your bottom line. Because your time is limited it makes sense to only focus on the things that you do to make money.
I struggled with how to figure out the things that actually help me make money. I earn money through affiliate sales and traffic to my site. So I started to focus on those 2 things by tracking which affiliate links do the best, which posts make money, and where I get the most traffic. Then I began to find ways to improve my earnings in those areas.
It seems counterintuitive to narrow your focus when it comes to business, but the most growth typically comes from doing a few things well versus trying to conquer everything!
6. Plan the night before
Sometimes I have trouble knowing what to work on when I get to finally sit down at my computer. There are a million things on my to do list and I usually forget what I worked on last. I was spending so much time staring at my computer and not working!
Now I try to make a game plan the night before. I look over my to do list, choose my top 3 priorities, and write a few notes about what needs to be done for work. I’ve realized the more I can do in advanced helps me be more productive during my work time.
7. Use a calendar to get organized
I’m not a big believer in fancy calendars. Actually most of my notes and to do lists are kept in a college ruled notebook I picked up at Walmart for $1. I just recently bought a $10 planner from Target where I’m keeping track of my personal and work life calendar.
I like having paper to physically write down my schedule it seems to help me remember things better.
Find a way to get yourself organized with a calendar. It will help you keep track of appointments and plan for your business around holidays and important money making opportunities.
A physical calendar is also a great way to look back at how far you’ve come in your business and will help you see your growth in a tangible way.
8. Create work flow systems
Once you start to figure out things that work for you turn those steps into a work flow. Set up templates to make your work flows go faster. Minimize your time spent on creating the same things over and over again. In my blogging business, I have work flows for writing emails, writing blog posts, and scheduling my social media. Those work flows save me 3 hours a week!
You can start creating work flows by taking your weekly tasks and breaking them down into simple steps. Then look for ways you can speed up your process by creating templates, outlines, etc.
9. Sign up for Parent’s Day Out
One of my first goals with my blogging business was to make enough money to send my kids to parent’s day out. I reached that goal last school year and my now 5 and 3 year old were able to attend 2 days a week from 9-1:30.
That gave me about 6 hours a week to work on my business during school hours. As a mom, I felt guilty for sending them to school because I wanted to work on my business. I soon realized that carving out specific time to work on my business allowed me to be more present with my kids when they were at home.
10. Get creative about childcare
I love my gym’s childcare program! We can use it for 2 hours every day at no additional charge. When I have a big project that I’m working on and need more time during the day to work, I take the kids to the gym and use their free wifi to work. On these days, I will sometimes try to workout before the kids get up or I skip my workout for the day.
It’s an easy transition for my kids because they are used to going to the childcare class and it’s apart of our normal routine.
We are members at the YMCA. I love it because they offer income based memberships, so if your budget is tight you might qualify for a scholarship.
11. Ask for help
I personally feel like all the household chores fall on my shoulders. When my husband offers to help out, I feel guilty that I’m not doing my job. This is all on me, he never does anything or says anything to make me feel this way.
He is totally capable of taking care of the kids, fixing dinner, and putting them to bed. I do it by myself all the time. We have worked out 1 night a week when he takes over the evening duties and I go out to Panera to work.
I usually get the most work done on these nights because it’s a big block of time and I have a plan.
My husband has also taken the kids away for the weekend to visit his parents. I had the whole weekend to work on my business and get as much done as possible. It’s amazing what you can do when given the time to work!
12. Wake up early or stay up late
Some people are night owls and some people are early birds.
My schedule has changed over the years as a work at home mom. During the school year, I like to wake up early and work on my business before the kids wake up. It helps me get focused before the rush of the day. I still have little ones at home with me so I can’t work while the kids are in school yet.
Summer time, I like to stay up late and get work done. I’m more of a natural night owl. I start to get a second wind after the kids go to bed, and I’m ready to sit down and work. I can sleep in a little bit later since school is out and my kids have been good about not waking me up until 7 am.
There was a season that if I woke up early, my kids would hear me or somehow just know that I was awake and they would want to come and sit on my lap. It just wasn’t worth me getting up to work because my time was always interrupted.
Consider your season of life and what time works best for you.
13. Work at home mom style
This may sound funny, but most of the time the best part of working from home is getting to work in your yoga pants. Really I think it’s about comfort. Most days you will find me in my workout clothes, because they are comfortable and kind of cute.
I noticed that when I started putting a little effort into taking a shower, brushing my hair, and putting on some mascara…
I felt like a new person. I was motivated and felt ready for the day. It was easier to wake up out of the mom fog.
Sometimes we get into a rut of not taking care of ourselves. Self care is really important and it’s not all about mani-pedis and treat yo-self (although those things are fun!).
Self care is doing the hard things that are actually good for you and that have a positive impact on your mindset. Things like getting dressed in the morning.
I’m not saying you have to wear dressy clothes, but you should try doing something that makes you feel good about yourself. I love when I blow dry my hair and put on a pair of jeans. I feel more confident.
Find out what makes you feel confident and give that a try!
14. Give yourself grace
It can feel so hard to do your very best to grow your work at home business.
And then you look around and see other work at home moms making more money or growing faster than you. I’ve been there and sometimes I find myself back there again. It’s so hard not to compare our journeys to those around us.
Just remember that no one’s daily life looks like yours. There are so many things that are involved in growing a successful business. Maybe they have childcare, maybe they have previous experience, maybe someone cleans their house for them, maybe their kids don’t need as much attention as yours do…
It’s so important that you define what SUCCESS looks like for you, in this season of life.
We must be realistic in our expectations about what we have time to do in our business. Don’t lose track of WHY you started your business, especially if it was to be able to stay home with your kids.
15. Be flexible
There will be hard days no matter how much you plan or how hard you try to stay on schedule.
Things don’t go as planned, but flexibility is one of the key reasons why we wanted to be work at home moms. So that we get to build our life around what matters most to us instead of building our lives around work.
There are new challenges I have faced in each stage with my kids. I think things will probably become easier when they all are in school, and that’s when I will miss them like crazy.
I’ve learned that creating specific work time and being intentional with my time are 2 of the most powerful ways to make working from home successful. I want to be intentional with my kids and in my work. Being intentional takes a lot of energy, which is especially hard when you’re a tired momma.
Remember to give yourself grace when you fall short, and to be flexible when things are hard.
You’ve got this momma!