In today’s guest post she looks at how juggling work and family changes
over all the stages from babyhood to teenage:
As I sit here writing this post about juggling work and family commitments my 14-year old son is snuggled up in his bed suffering from some nasty sickness bug that’s been doing the rounds at his school.
When he came home sick yesterday and I knew he wouldn’t be able to go in today, there was no big drama about having to arrange time off or cover for my job because I work from home.
Obviously the fact that he’s 14 means that he’s happy to entertain himself and that he doesn’t want to be snuggled up on my lap as I try and work (a good job, as at 5 feet 10 inches tall he’s at least 8 inches taller than I am!)
My post today is all about juggling work and family, and it acknowledges that the situation definitely changes as your children grow.
When you have young babies or pre-nursery children you may find yourself confined to getting up early, working late and grabbing an hour or so of work time whilst the baby naps (or not).
Nursery age children
I remember a self-employed friend being beside herself with excitement when her son started nursery as she realised she’d have a good two hours every morning whilst he was in nursery when she could get an uninterrupted run at ticking work tasks off her schedule.
Primary age children
The ‘luxury’ of five or six hours of time when your children are in school!
Secondary age children
The higher up the school chain they go the less you seem to see of them. My son is in Year 10. He leaves the house at 8 am and gets home anywhere between 4 pm and 5 pm, depending on what after-school activities he has on.
I don’t do a school run any more, he gets to and from school himself. At this age, you have to start making a conscious effort to actually spend time together!
Make the most of the time you’ve got
The reality is that whatever time you have available, you need to make the most of it so you’re really productive during your working hours.
- Turn up when you say you’re going to start and actually work until your end time.
- Make two lists, a ‘need to get done’ and a ‘like to get done’ list. Tackle a need job first and then reward yourself with a like job. This is much less threatening than a ‘To Do’ list, which always seems to lurk unpleasantly and make you want to go and do ‘essential’ household tasks like vacuuming.
- Be realistic. If you only have two hours are you really going to be able to do 20 tasks? Maybe if they’re all little jobs. Break down all your goals into achievable milestones and individual tasks, so that they don’t seem so daunting.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete a task. Just make sure that you leave it at a good place to pick it up next time and make sure you complete it as your first task in your next work period.
- Finish when you say you’re going to and don’t feel guilty or begrudge your child the time you spend with them.
- If you have older children make sure you make time to spend with them and enjoy them while they still want to be seen with you.
Discipline is the key
I know I talk about discipline a lot, but it really is a case of setting your priorities and then actually carrying out your plan so that you can succeed in juggling work and family time.
If you find it hard to do, look for an ‘accountability buddy’ who knows what you’re looking to achieve and can give you the odd friendly nudge to remind you of your goals and the things you need to complete to make them happen.
Which stage of juggling work and family commitments are you currently in? Do you have a favourite stage? Any tips for other home working mums?
Sarah Cruickshank is a freelance writer, proofreader and audio transcriptionist based in Lancaster in N.W. England. She blogs about family life, learning, freelancing and wellbeing at www.alifemorelived.co.uk.
Did you catch Sarah’s previous popular guest post Back to employment wasn’t the answer?