Whenever my work-at-home friends and I get together, we often joke about how we all have to be a little insane to enjoy working at home. We all get a little crazy when we stay at home for too long. Now imagine doing it every day and you’ll get a pretty good idea how high our threshold for cabin fever is; and how bad it must be when we do actually get little cuckoo.
But when you have kids running amok at home while you’re trying to beat a deadline, that little bit of insanity isn’t going to be enough to get you through. Sometimes, okay, most of the time, you need to hold on to something to keep you from going. In order to function as parents, we need a bit of sanity to keep our households running despite the chaos of work, chores, and children. For parents, breakdowns aren’t optional. And when we do have them, they have to be minor and easy to recover from.
That’s why we work-at-home parents have developed certain strategies to help keep us sane when everything gets a little crazy; letting us fight and work for another.
1. Midweek dates/getaways with our spouses/partners/friends. When the weekend is too far away or when it’s already planned with every inch of its life with activities for the kids, it pays to have a midweek break. Most of us who work at home don’t have an off switch on the weekends. For us work-at-home parents, weekends are days to do the chores, errands, and work we can’t do on the weekdays.
That’s why when we feel the need to take a break, it’s more of a necessity rather than a whim. We need to pamper ourselves to allow us to enjoy the fruits of our labor, motivating us to continue working for another day. It usually doesn’t take much. It can be as simple as coffee with friends or a full on indulgence of a spa day; with the spa having WiFi so we can sneak in some work while having a pedi.
So the next time you see parents going out on a weekday and snicker about them having too much time on their hands, stop. These parents probably hadn’t had a day off in weeks and that Tuesday afternoon was the only time they could get together and just forget about everything for a few hours.
2. Get enough sleep. Running on fumes isn’t going to help anyone; not your work, not your kids, not your family or friends. Working everyday with only 4 hours of sleep (or less) per day doesn’t mean you’re working efficiently it just means you’re working tired. And when you’re tired, you’re more likely to be distracted and that’s probably why your work hours are stretching longer than it should.
Get as much sleep as you can and focus working on the hours you should be working, that way you’ll get more done in less time.
3. Practice mono-tasking. As a work-at-home mom, multitasking is practically part of the job description. But sometimes, multitasking just adds a lot of unnecessary stress because it adds up the work (and problems) of several completely unrelated jobs. It’s okay to do just one thing at a time if it helps you get things done; you just might realize you’ve achieved more doing one thing at a time rather than doing everything at once.
4. Stay in touch with your online friends in real life. We all need companionship, even loners and introverts. And us work-at-home moms usually bond online in order to feed our need for incessant chatter while working. But these online hangouts can’t really replace meeting in real life for serious, face-to-face water cooler gossip.
So sometimes, we WAHMS go out and work elsewhere to talk while working. Sure, it costs more because we’ll have to commute, buy coffee and bring out our laptops. But a lot of times, the best conversations, the best ideas, and the best collaborations come from these meetings. It’s these things that make these coffee work dates as great investments in your business and careers, not just as an excuse to slack off and drink coffee with friends.
5. Get a hobby. When I started asking my friends what hobbies they have that kept them sane, it started to sound more like a list of their guilty pleasures. For one of my WAHM friends, it’s Hallmark movies and Hillary Duff music videos. One rocker work at home dad likes to de-stress watching Pitch Perfect, Glee, and chick flicks. Me, when I have the time, I read trashy novels and watch YouTube videos of cute babies.
Then I realized that these are hobbies, as silly as they are, have helped us keep our sanity because it keeps us in touch with the lighter side of life. When we’re doing our hobbies, we’re just enjoying ourselves and we don’t care what everyone else thinks. When we’re doing our hobbies, we feel younger, more carefree, and simply relaxed.
I hope my short list helps. But if you guys have any more suggestions, please let me know. I’d be more than happy to let you guys talk about it here on my blog or update this list with your suggestion, whichever you prefer.
Just remember, we’ll never run out or work or chores so we need to stay sane for the long haul. Working at home is a marathon, not a sprint. The longer you stay sane, the better off everybody will be.