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Binge Guide #2

Focus on Your Family

Let me show you how to be a work at home mom, and how to prepare your family for working at home. Learn what questions to ask, and find solutions that work for your life, family and home.

Disclaimer: This page may include affiliate links. I may earn a small commission from some of the brands mentioned here. Click here for more info.

When you start working from home, you almost have to re-learn how to have a family.

Creating a home working schedule that works with your partner/spouse, and your kids, is very hard, and involves a lot of adjusting. If this part is hard for you, don’t worry! Don’t let anyone tell you that it should be easy.

In this section, we are going to talk about watching your kids while you work, working with your partner at home, and keeping in touch with family and friends out of town (or just in another home….thanks pandemic.)

Learn how to discover what your family needs, and how to find solutions that fit your home.

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Losing control of your kids and relationships while you are at home? Learn how to make space for what matters to your family.

The Questions to Ask:

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When it comes to your family, your internal questions and your family solutions will change a LOT. One season you will be in a great cadence with kids, work, and life…and the next season things fall apart.

My husband and I have gotten very intentional about asking each other weekly questions: Are our children happy? Do we need to make any family changes? Have we had intentional time together recently? What does each person need in the coming week?

These check-ins give you permission to change things up, and make sure the right things are prioritized. 

When I am talking to my friends, I try to never say “We always do this…” because there is no “Always”. Things change so much, that each season brings different patterns.

What's working for us now...

Here’s a pattern that we are implementing right now that really helps our family. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but it works for us….for now.

Every week, my husband and I chat about what the other person needs. On top of our normal schedules, my husband is working on house renovations, I work on this blog, and we both have external obligations.

I might tell my husband that I need 3-4 hours extra that week, and he might need 2-3. We factor these “needs” into our schedules, and give each other the time the other person needs. (For us, these needs are outside of the work day, and reflect additional jobs or obligations.)

Here are some ways we give ourselves this extra time:

  • 3-4 times a week, we feed our children dinner early by themselves. On these nights, we alternate who does the dinner/bedtime routines. When I take care of the kids, he has time to get his work done. The other nights he does the dinner/bedtime routine, and I have extra hours to accomplish my work. After the kids are in bed, we then have dinner and chill time together, uninterrupted.
  • 2-3 times a night we eat with the kids, and do the bedtime routine together. After the kids are in bed, my husband and I split and work on our separate work projects. I manage several Pinterest accounts for clients, and complete this work usually between 8 pm – 1 am on these nights. (I also grab one of these for my self-care, early-to-bed night.)
  • On weekends, we find periods of time to give each other help when needed. It might be that my husband takes the kids to the park, while I stay home and clean the house. Or I might entertain the kids while he does house construction. If we do a family activity, then we alternate dinner time that day so we can catch up on our obligations.

These patterns aren’t perfect, and if they ever get in the way of “family time”, we adjust. But for right now, they work, and they give us extra time during an already-busy week.

A quick note to single moms out there. It takes GUTS to work and watch your kids alone – and I applaud you. I’d love to hear your story and hear how you are able to work and watch your kids. Please head on over to our community group and share your stories and tips! I know there are so many single moms that would love to connect.

THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS WE ASK OURSELVES:

Sound impossible? Here’s how I do this.

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WATCHING KIDS & WORKING

The Questions I ask: 

  • “How much can I afford per month for childcare?”
  • “What season are we in? Do I need to watch them and work?”
  • “How will my childcare decisions weigh on our mental health or family dynamic?”

Depending on your budget, you may or may not be able to afford childcare. THAT IS OK. Don’t feel like “just because everyone else goes to full time daycare, I have to to.”

If you are in a season where your kids are at home, it is possible!

I am firm believer that moms can work and watch their kids. Yes, sometimes I have complete meltdowns because it can be so hard. But, it is possible.

To be able to watch your kids and work, you have to teach your kids independent play. That is the KEY to all of it working. This isn’t something that happens overnight.

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Instead, you have to practice.

Start with 15 minute blocks of leaving your kids (starting young!) to play in their play area (bedroom, living room, play room, playpen, crib) and increase as they learn to be creative. Read more here on how I slowly teach my kids to play by themselves. (More articles coming later about this too!)

To learn all my tricks, see these articles:

MY FAVORITE SOLUTIONS:

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CHILDCARE & WORKING

The Questions I ask: 

  • “How much can I afford per month for childcare?”
  • “What season are we in? Do I need to watch them and work?”
  • “How will my childcare decisions weigh on our mental health or family dynamic?”

My solution: We have gone through every possible form of childcare during this roller coaster. We have had: no childcare, part-time playtime, part-time babysitters, full-time nannies, preschool, no preschool, family members help, neighborhood mother’s helper, drop-off nursery/daycare….you name it!

Our budget decides a LOT.

I’m not just talking about full-time care budget. But just anything you can set aside per month.

Even if you can swing only $50/month, SET THAT ASIDE and use it for activity box subscriptions, craft materials, new toys, or baby equipment…anything to help you out.

This budget (even if its just a tiny amount) will give you freedom to get help.

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Ask yourself what season are you in? If your kids are home, invest in toys and activities to make that easier. Can you get a 10 year old neighbor to help in the afternoon? Spend $20/wk on that. Lean into the season you are in!

If you are needing real childcare but can’t afford traditional daycares/babysitters, here are some tips:

  • If your child takes naps, you might only need a babysitter/childcare for the morning hours. Start with this and see if it works.
  • My favorite place to find good babysitters & nannies is the NextDoor app for your neighborhood. Also, if you are religious, look at nearby seminaries and theology schools, because they might have listings for their students needing daytime babysitting jobs.
  • Ask neighborhood kids if they want to be a mother’s helper – playing with your kids from 4-5 after school/naps.
  • Look for drop-in nurseries or church childcare services (Mother’s Morning Out) for flexible childcare morning hours.

WORKING NEAR YOUR SPOUSE

The Question I ask: 

  • “What individual seasons are my husband and I in?”
  • “How can we arrange the house to gives us both space?”
  • “How can we have intentional time together?”

Ok this meme. I quote it ALL THE TIME. It is so true, right?

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That’s what being at home in the same house for long periods of time will do to you.  It’s wonderful! But it can be so hard!

My husband and I have been near each other at home for years…for undergrad, then grad school, then working at home together, and other hard job things. The point is….I know how hard it is.

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Here are my tips:

  1. Have separate offices or areas of the house, and respect the closed door (or headphones). Have signals for “don’t talk to me”.
  2. Talk about your PDA expectations, and don’t expect a kiss or hug every time you pass each other in the house. That would be exhausting! Instead, find a time each day to pretend like you are “coming home from work” and kiss and reconnect then.
  3. Set aside time every week for a “date”. It might just be pizza and pajamas on a Friday night. But calling it a “date” tells you both that that time’s just for you.
  4. Break traditional family patterns and find clever ways to hang out. Skip dinner with the kids. Get a Saturday day babysitter. Create a clever TV rotation schedule at night. Do something out of the ordinary to focus on each other.

FAMILY OUT OF TOWN

The Question I ask: 

  • “What is an easy way to connect with family and friends out of town?”
  • “How can I decide once and not have to keep re-inventing the FaceTime/Skype/GoogleDuo/Zoom conversation?”

My solution: Facebook Portal

You guys, this contraption is a life-saver. The Facebook Portal is a direct portal from one person’s house to yours. You set it up, login with Facebook, and it gives a direct connection to anyone that has Facebook or WhatsApp.

Why do I like it? I am able to VERBALLY call my mother “Hey Portal, call Grandma!” and the Portal will connect and let my kids run around and talk to their grandparents while I make dinner.

It pans and zooms in, so grandparents can see the kids while they are playing cars, and running in circles.

It can “babysit” my kids while I work. My daughter can have play time or story time with her grandpa…all by herself with no parent aid.

I can call my kids’ great-grandma (who is 90!) who has WhatsApp, and she can see my kids from her phone.

We bought one for our grandparents, and will probably give more this Christmas.

Bonus: I use it play music, watch YouTube videos, and do Zoom calls – its a great screen for your kitchen!

Tips for a good deal:

  • These go on great sale on Black Friday.
  • Get an older version on Amazon that works just as well for a cheaper price.
  • We also got a new one for sale on Facebook Marketplace at a steal. Check there and Craigslist!
  • If you don’t want to wait for a backordered one from Facebook’s website, Amazon has faster delivery times.
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THE FACEBOOK PORTAL:

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Still Reading?

Binge Guide #3 to learn how to focus on your work.
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Still Reading?

Binge Guide #2 to learn how to focus on your family.

Want to ask your questions? Come join me here!

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the community

Join the other moms

Make friends with other moms when you need naptime tips…or just someone to chat with while you are nursing at midnight.

This is a judgment free zone. A listening ear. A way to meet likeminded friends.

You aren’t alone! Join other moms who are juggling with the same stuff that you are. Ask all your questions and even find friends in your own area! Click below to be invited into the Modern WAHM Facebook Group.

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