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When I first started working from home, it was hard to make it clear I was actually working. Here are my tips to help any work at home mom.
There is nothing worse than working from home and people thinking that you’re lazing around. I don’t think this is happening as much anymore thanks to the pandemic pushing almost everyone into remote working, but it still happens now and then.
I started working from home long before it became fashionable. My ex-husband wasn’t too bad with it at first, but he had his moments, especially toward the end of our marriage. Others struggled with the idea that I was a work at home mom.
These are the five tips that I followed and still follow to this day. I don’t have a door to my office anymore, which makes one of the tips harder, but there is a workaround.
Shut the door when you’re working
If you’re struggling with people in the house understanding that you are actually working as a work at home mom*, then you need to close the door. You could even lock it! If you don’t have a lock on the door, then put a door holder underneath when it’s closed. It is as good as locked, and you can still get to easily when you need to.
The idea is that people have to knock to enter. You can ignore that a lot easier. I used to put music on or something in some headphones so that the knocks wouldn’t disturb me as much. It’s so much easier to work in a silent house.
If you don’t have a door, get some sort of room divider. This isn’t as good, but you put up a barrier to make it clear that while it’s up, you’re uncontactable. Eventually, people figure it out.
Ignore phone calls as a work at home mom
I rarely answer the phone when I’m working. I can’t deal with people interrupting my workflow.
In fact, I have a “Flip to Shhh” function on my phone. When it’s turned upside down, only the people who need to get hold of me can. That’s my ex, my best friend, the school, and my eldest daughter. Everyone else’s notifications are silenced so I don’t even heard them calling or texting. I’ll message once I’m available.
It’s important to make it clear that you are not available as a work at home mom. The less you answer your phone, the less people will try to contact you when you’re in your working day.
Answer the phone when you’re not working. It even further drives the message home that you’re now available to talk.
Have set hours as much as you can
If you’re like me, you’ll sometimes work extra hours on a night. This is important if you have a deadline that you need to meet, or you’re trying something extra for the week. However, I still have my regular working hours.
It’s important to have your regular hours. This is the best way to help people not disturb you when you are working. After all, if you usually work 9 to 5 and you’re working at 8 a.m. for some reason, people may call early to catch you before work without realizing.
Setting your hours is also good for a work-life balance* as a work at home mom. Children see that you do step away from your work and that you can have it all.
Limit the errands that you run when you’re a work at home mom
There are times that you will nip out to run an errand. This could be to the store to get something for dinner, or it could be quickly to the bank to cash a check. This can be confusing for people when you’re trying to prove that you’re working. Why are you running errands when you should be at your desk? Would you do this in the office?
I tie in my errands with a lunch break. I don’t tend to let people know that I’m running them, though. This can make it look like I’ve waited until I finished work or that I did something before I started. If I have to explain, then I make it clear that it was on my lunch break, which we all should get and step away from the computer during.
Make your errands only for yourself or your immediate family, though. If you start doing errands for other people, they are going to take advantage and forget that you do actually work from home.
Communicate well with people
Communication is key when it comes to any sort of successful boundary. You need to make the boundary clear, and you need to tell people when they cross it. If they don’t respect that boundary, then you need to follow through with whatever the consequence for crossing it was.
When it came to asking for something during my working hours, I made it clear that I would no longer answer any of their calls at all. Was I to know if it was an emergency or not? No, but it made it clear that when there was an emergency, they wouldn’t be able to rely on me because of failed boundaries before. It stopped unnecessary communication with some people during working hours.
People who don’t respect your boundaries when you’re a work at home mom don’t respect you at all. It’s time they knew their place.
What are you doing to get a better work-life balance? How do you make it clear you’re working as a work at home mom? Share your tips in the comments below.