Wailings Of A Work At Home Mom

The Wild and Wacky World of WAHMs!


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The Best Time To Start Becoming A Work-At-Home Parent

telecommuting

telecommuting (Photo credit: jessamyn)

“When is the best time to start working from home?”

I encounter this question time and time again from moms who want to try their hand working from home. It’s also one of the questions had the hardest time finding an answer for because most of the moms I know (myself included) didn’t really have the option of choosing when we can start working. All the working moms I know starting working from home either out of necessity or because the opportunity was there and they had to seize it.

But I think this is a question worth answering because knowing the ideal time to start becoming a work at home parent can make process easier.

Working from home can be a big shock, especially if you’re used to working in an office. Those who don’t have any work experience can also have a hard time working at home because of the high level discipline, focus, and time management skills needed do a full day’s work load consistently.

The Answer

I asked a lot of working moms I know this question. And the one thing that we all agree on is that if we were the choice, we would like to start working from home one our child starts elementary school or grade school.

We believe this is the best scenario for several reasons.

  • Grade school classes last all day (at least, for private schools here in the Philippines). This would give work at home parents the most amount of time to focus on work.
  • Even if you choose to home-school  there are enough activities and exercises in an accredited DepEd home school curriculum to give parents enough time to work while teaching their child.
  • Grade school kids are old enough to take care of themselves and do some simple chores. They’re also old enough to entertain themselves from time to time. This frees up more time for work.

The Alternatives

Unfortunately, most of us don’t really have the option of waiting for the kids to go school before we can start working. What if you’re still pregnant or you just gave birth? What if you have a toddler or several toddlers? Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about the pros and cons on working from home at different stages of motherhood, what you can do to allow working from home possible, and job options.

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Missing Nanny 3: Children and Chores

Teaching your child how to do chores not only gives them a sense of responsibility. It also lays the groundwork for good habits and it makes them feel like their contributing something important to the family.

Since I’ll be spending more time with my daughter and I won’t be able to get a lot of work done on the afternoons, I figured this would be a good time to put her in the habit of doing chores.

The way I see, getting her in the habit of doing chores is a long term investment for me. I figured the more things she can do for herself, the fewer chores I have to do. And maybe this would keep my daughter busy enough and give me time to work.

My dishwasher in training. Next I'll have her do the laundry.

My dishwasher in training. Next I’ll have her do the laundry.

I’ve been trying to teach my daughter how to do simple household chores since she turned 2.  I know it’s possible to teach toddlers how to do chores, as seen in his video here. It’s not easy and it’s not something that they can do consistently. Chores, for a toddler, is still part of play and once that game starts to get boring, they’ll leave that and want to try something else.

Now that my daughter is 3 years old, I really want to get her into the habit of doing chores. In order to do that, I had talked with my husband and my nanny to develop a plan that we all can agree to and implement.

First, we agreed the best way to do this was to give her easy, age-appropriate chores. We all agreed that she has to get into the habit of doing these chores before we can teach her new ones. The chores we selected were

  • putting away her toys and books after use
  • putting her shoes and slippers back on the shoe rack after use
  • putting her dirty clothes in the hamper after bathing or after changing her clothes

To make sure she does these chores, we all agreed not to do any of these chores for her. We also agreed not to allow her to do anything (like have a snack or play) until she finishes her chores.

I, on the other hand, had to promise not to nitpick and clean up after her. What’s more important is that she gets it done, not how she gets it done.

It’s been 4 days now since we started implementing this and I can say the results are promising. I still need to remind her to do her chores but at least she does it right away and without complaint.

My intentions are good and my plan is solid. The only thing I can do now is wait a few more months and see if these lessons would stick. I will update you guys to let you know if this works. Wish us luck!


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Household Chores: Do They Hurt or Help Your Productivity?

My sister, who is also a work at home mom, hates doing chores while working. Once she has a schedule set, she will forget everything else. If you force her to do chores when she’s on “work mode”, she becomes cranky, distracted, and would have a hard time getting back on track.

When I’m stuck on something, I use my break to do some chores. No, I don’t do this because I’m a martyr and I like punishing myself. There’s something about near-mindless physical labor like folding laundry or doing the dishes that helps me think when I’m stuck with a certain problem. And I usually better afterwards because I feel like I’ve achieved something (one chore down, wheee!!) and by then I’m able to figure out a solution to my problem.

On a grocery run with my baby. One of the few chores we enjoy doing together.

On a grocery run with my baby. One of the few chores we enjoy doing together.

When you’re a work at home mom, you can’t really avoid doing chores. Even if you have help at home (like other family members or a maid), there will always be chores that you have to do yourself. And regardless, when you’re a work at home mom you will need help with chores. Full time jobs at home can be just as draining as full time jobs outside the house.

The trick is figuring out whether these chores can help or hurt your productivity. Do chores help you think do you use chores as an excuse to not work? Do chores get in the way of your productivity or are they necessary breaks that help keep you focused and motivated?

When you’re a hands on parent, chores are a fact of life. And when you’re a work at home parent, you have to accept that being productive is not about doing everything in a day. For work at home parents, productivity is more about doing as much as you can given the time and the resources that you have.

For my sister, this meant putting chores on hold until she’s done with her work. That way, she knows she’s done all her obligations and at the end of the day she can focus on chores and her son. For me, this meant relinquishing some control over how things should be done around the house to my husband and our household help.

What do you think? Do chores hurt or help your productivity?


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Are You A Productive Work At Home Mom?

One of the major challenges I encountered when I became a work at home mom was tracking my productivity. I knew it was going to be harder working at home than in an office because of all the distractions, but how will I know if I’ve done enough for the day? In an office, I know I’ll have the company clock and boss to tell me when I’m done for the day and I can finally relax. But what would happen once I start working at home? How will I know if I’ve already clocked in 8 hours worth of work? How will I know if I’ve done too much or too little for the day?

From being an office worker to telecommuter to work at home mom, I’ve had the opportunity to try out different ways of tracking my productivity depending on the type of work that I had to do that day. These different methods have helped me a lot, not just in tracking my work productivity, but it has also helped me determine my work personality and schedule. Once I found out what hours of the day I worked best (I’m a morning person, an 8-5 kinda gal) and my work personality (I prefer to focus and finish 1 task at a time, not an efficient multi-tasker) I was able to find was to make myself more productive, allowing me to do more with less time.

What my sister and I look like when working. Photo from Kulfoto.com

I’ll be sharing just some of the techniques that I have tried and have worked  for me and my friends. We actually use more than one way of tracking our and we change it up a bit sometimes  depending on the project, how busy we are, and how we work.

  1. Creating a task list. Creating a list of the tasks you need to do every day is extremely helpful especially if you’re working on a very flexible (unpredictable) schedule. And there’s something really satisfying watching your task list grow shorter. Another great thing about working from a list is it forces you to be organized and to learn how to prioritize (especially when you have to make last minute insertions to your task list). A really good tip when working from is a list is to be honest with yourself and know how much work you can really do in a day. Categorize    what’s most important and least important. That way, you’ll know when you’ve done enough and putting in a little bit of extra work would just be optional. For creating a list, it can be something as simple as a list on a sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet on your computer. But if you’re sharing a tasklist with colleagues or employees, you may want to put that list online or use project management tools like Basecamp or ClockingIT.
  2. Tracking software. A lot of online workers I know don’t like time tracking/productivity tracking software because it makes them feel like they’re being spied on. It does have that big brother quality to it but the thing I like about tracking software is it helps you identify what type of worker you are and what kind of things can distract you. This because the software tracks everything that you do, down to the very last second. That’s when you realize that maybe you’re spending too much time on Facebook or answering your email. The software also shows you what jobs you like the most, what jobs you’re most efficient in, and what jobs you dislike the most or take the most time finishing. RescueTime, Freshbooks, and TimeDoctor are just some of the  software I’ve tried. You also need to have a reliable internet connection for it provide accurate data.
  3. Timer. I use a timer for tedious, repetitive tasks. It motivates me to work faster for some reason and I also use it when I have a definite deadline. Having a timer is also great if you’re being paid by the hour.


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Pursuing Your Passion

I apologize for not blogging these past few weeks. I just started my web development track on Codecademy and I’ve been working with my husband on creating a digital protection and security course for parents at our church in CCF Davao.

I bet you’re wondering, why take all this on? Between my full time job, my hobby as a Sci/Tech correspondent for an online news agency, and taking care of my family, I barely have any time left for myself. What woman in her right mind would take on more work when 24 hours isn’t enough for all the stuff that she has to do day by day.

I took the time to do those things because those tasks ARE the things that I want to do for myself. Learning something new and digital literacy are my passions. I’m happy and fulfilled as a mother but as a person and as a woman, I wanted to do more. I wanted to make an impact to society. I wanted to grow and improve. I don’t want to wait for opportunities to make myself better. I believe in making opportunities that could eventually open more doors for me and my family.

Nothing is too hard when you’re doing what you love!

Taking on more work hasn’t been easy. Working with my husband on the Digital Security course wasn’t that difficult because it’s a shared passion. We know we’re doing a lot of good teaching parents to teach their children to be responsible internet users and it’s something that we strongly believe in. We’re excited by how enthusiastic parents are and it’s a great way for us to strengthen our family unit.

Going back to “school” was a little harder. I had to ask my client and my family to make allowances for me. It takes a lot of discipline to set aside at least 15 minutes a day to study, to do all the reading and to finish my assignments. And it was very humbling for me to ask guys younger than me to help my debug my codes because there were times when I really couldn’t get it!!

But the thing is I’m happy! Despite the fact that I barely have time to sleep or relax, I’m not stressed. Being able to do the things I love with the people I love has given me the energy I needed to do everything that has to be done, even the chores I hate. It took me a while to effectively manage my time though, that’s why I was only able to post an update today.

But don’t worry, I’ll be posting regularly now on. I’ll keep you guys updated on my progress with Codecademy and I’ll post more information in this course that we’re developing for those who are interested.

I know that as WAHMs it’s hard for us to find time for our passions but I strongly recommend it. We’re more than mothers who work at home. We’re more than our families and jobs. It’s not going to be easy. It’s be exhausting and at times infuriating, but I promise you that pursuing your personal passion is something that will fulfill you in a deeper level and at the end of the day, you’ll feel all that hard work has been worthwhile.