April 27th, 2016

How Not to Burn Out as a Stay at Home Mom

How Not to Burn Out as a Stay at Home Mom

As discussed in the previous article, it’s easy to burn out as a stay at home mom. It’s not the easy job many people think it is, at least not all the time. We all have good days and bad days. Being a stay at home mom can go from the best job in the world to sheer drudgery in a short time, often in the same day.

1. Teach your kids to help

Teaching your kids to help out around the house is not always fun. It often makes the jobs take longer, and it takes kids a long time to learn to do the jobs as well as you’d like them done.

Kids are generally very willing to do some jobs, and very unwilling to do others. I encourage you to teach them to do both types. It’s a huge help to not be the only person in the house dealing with dishes, laundry, cooking and so forth.

Of course, your spouse/significant other should also be doing a share. Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean you have to take care of it all, day and night, 7 days a week. Come to an agreement about responsibilities so that one parent isn’t taking the bulk of the load when both are home and available.

2. Don’t put your kids in more activities than you can handle

It’s not just parents who decide that kids go in a lot of activities. Sometimes kids want to do it all… soccer, ballet, baseball, karate, art, music lessons… the list goes on. It gets worse when you have more than one child, especially if their interests are different. You can do a lot of truly exhausting and time consuming running around if you aren’t careful.

There’s a balance to be struck between what you want your kids to do, what they want to do, and what you realistically have the time and/or money to do. All of it matters.

I suggest first taking into consideration what activities your child wants to do and deciding if it’s reasonable given the time and money required. My oldest, for example, wanted to join the local swim team, but after reviewing the cost and time commitments, we agreed that it wasn’t going to happen. I have since heard from other parents that you tend to get nickel and dimed a lot for swim team stuff, over and above the monthly fees, so I’m glad we didn’t join.

If there’s still room for more activities, next consider what you would like your child to do. I don’t suggest putting your child into something they’re strongly against without good reason, but sometimes it makes sense to tell your kids that they will try out a sport or a musical instrument, and decide together which is the most interesting, and how long they have to try it. There are good reasons for children to get involved in sports or music for a time, even if they don’t see it.

3. Learn to say no

Schools need volunteers, there’s no disputing that. In fact, I encourage you to volunteer at your children’s school when you have the time. I volunteer at my kids’ school one day a week for about an hour and a half, plus occasional field trips or special events.

I’ve even done walking field trips with classes that none of my kids were in just because I knew the teacher and she was short on volunteers. She asked me if I could go along the morning of the field trip because she knew I was flexible. We walked the classes to a local coffee shop so they could see their art displayed (the kids were allowed to buy a snack or a drink if they had money), then walk back. This took the place of my gym workout, so the time spent wasn’t a big deal, but really helped the teacher out. All together it was about 5 miles of walking, because I went with both of her classes.

If I hadn’t had the time, I would have declined and she would have understood. Most people will, although some will pressure you to volunteer when you don’t want to or shouldn’t. You have to learn to say no and mean it. That’s not easy if you’re used to helping out, but important when you realize you’ve been doing too much.

You may also need to learn to say no when friends or family ask for help and it’s not a time that you can do it. Do things for others when it’s reasonable but don’t demand the impossible from yourself.

4. Have fun with friends

One way you can make time for yourself is to go out and have fun with your friends once in a while. Not only is it good for you to have a social life, it’s good for your family to see you have a social life.

5. Get enough sleep

It’s easy to skimp on sleep. There’s so much to get done throughout the day, and it can be easier to get things done when everyone else is asleep. Early mornings and late nights add up, and leave you exhausted.

If you have to stay up late or get up early to get things done as a stay at home mom, you may need to have your husband and/or kids help out more. It is not all your job and you shouldn’t feel as though it’s all up to you. The other people in your family can help as appropriate by age and other obligations.

6. Do things away from home

I don’t mean just grocery shopping, although sometimes grocery shopping is a fair break. It’s not a great one. You should do more than that away from home.

Getting away from home doesn’t have to be without your family. It’s good for all of you to do things elsewhere. Head out to a park or museum, go for a hike, do something fun. A part of enjoying your time as a parent is doing things as a family as well as on your own.

7. Get away from your electronics

It’s easy to be overly attached to your smartphone or computer, but it’s not a good thing. Neither is watching too much television. Take time every day away from your electronics, especially close to bedtime. The light from electronic screens can make it harder to get to sleep.

If you are using your electronics at night, take a look at f.lux, which is a free program that changes the lighting on your computer screen. I really like it. I can’t promise that it will make it easier to sleep, but I like it on my computer.

8. Make time for yourself

Take time regularly to do things you enjoy, whether at home or out of the house. Read, work on a hobby, get out to the gym, whatever works for you. Not only is it a break for you from being on as “Mom” all the time, it shows your children that being a mom doesn’t have to mean losing yourself, and that’s good for them too. You deserve to be a priority.

9. Make time for your spouse/significant other

How long has it been since the two of you have been on a date? I know my husband and I often go too long without getting out alone together. It’s very easy to skimp on time for each other.

You don’t have to be fancy about this. You don’t even have to get out of the house, although I think it helps quite a bit. But if money and/or time are tight, find things to do at home together. You can watch a movie, which gives you the option of going out to the theater, grabbing a rental, or watching something you own or something playing on TV. You have have a special meal at a restaurant or something special together after the kids are in bed.

Doing things around the house together can be good too. My husband and I have a lot of fun just walking around the front and back yard of our new house, planning out how we’re going to change the landscaping to suit our needs and California’s drought.

10. Relax

Sometimes just kicking back and doing nothing is good. Really good. Maybe in a nice bath.

11. Consider getting a work at home job

I am a huge fan of at home moms and dads having a work at home job. The work I’ve done at home has helped keep our family afloat. If I didn’t work at home, we would not have been able to buy the house we are now in. I earn more than my husband now, so I definitely consider it worthwhile.

Not only does working at home give you more financial stability in a crisis, it’s a good example for your kids. It’s a lovely thing to be able to say that you trust your spouse to provide for your family, but too many families get hammered by realities which cannot be prevented. Death, disability, divorce, unemployment… I’ve written about these before but it bears repeating. Working at home is a way to protect your family financially while being there for them.

Having a work at home job will increase some stresses, of course, but I think the benefits are well worth it, especially if your family would otherwise be in a financial crisis.

Doing all of this won’t mean that you never feel burnt out; we all go through frustrating times in life. But it will help you to deal better with the challenges of being a stay at home mom. Don’t expect to be happy all of the time; that’s just not realistic. If you take care of yourself as well as your family, odds are you’ll enjoy your time raising your kids overall.

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

April 26th, 2016

How to Burn Out as a Stay at Home Mom

How to Burn Out as a Stay at Home Mom

Are you a stay at home mom who doesn’t have enough to complain about because things are going too smoothly? Not to worry, you too can burn yourself out on the whole stay at home mom thing with a little excessive effort. Are you on the path to complete and utter exhaustion, frustration and burnout?

1. Do everything for your kids.

Don’t worry about teaching your kids how to do things for themselves or how to help around the house. If it needs doing, you do it. It’s all out of love, right? Kids don’t need chores, don’t need to clean up after themselves, do laundry or even cut their own meat as they get older. You can do that for them. They need the free time more than you do.

2. Put your kids in tons of activities.

I mean tons. You have the time to run them all over town, don’t you? They need their activities. Let them explore every interest. Who knows, one of those activities might help them get into college or even lead to a career! What do your time and the expense matter?

3. Be the volunteer everyone can rely upon.

School needs a volunteer? You’re right there. Church needs a volunteer? You’re right there. Someone in your extended family needs help? You got it. If someone needs you to do something, you say yes, rarely no, even when it’s inconvenient or someone else would be more suited to the job.

4. Never make time for yourself.

Your quiet time is when you go to the bathroom… assuming the kids don’t come running through the door – again. Or maybe when you go grocery shopping without the kids. Doesn’t that feel wonderful sometimes?

Real time for yourself? Who has time for that when caring for a family?

5. Distance yourself from your friends.

Making time for your friends would mean making time for yourself, and that’s just not happening, is it? You have more important things to do, and your friends just need to understand that.

6. Skimp on sleep.

Late nights and early mornings are just routine when you’re a mom, aren’t they? You have so much to get done, and a lot of it is easier to do when everyone else is asleep. You’ll get caught up someday.

7. Spend as much time as possible on your electronic devices.

If you’re not doing stuff for your family, you’re on your smartphone. Those apps aren’t going to play themselves, and how better to keep in contact with friends than texting? It’s a mental break. Your smartphone is never far from you.

8. Never go on a date with your spouse/significant other.

Who has time to maintain your other relationships when you have kids? They always need something, and sitters are so expensive. You’ll make time for that someday, but now? How?

9. Focus on having a perfect home.

You’re home all day, so of course your home should be perfect. If the kids make a mess, it needs to be cleaned up fast. There are no excuses for a messy home.

10. Worry about things that are out of your control.

Are your kids eating enough? What if your spouse loses his or her job? Then there’s who will win the next election, wondering what will break next in the house… there’s so much you can worry about and so little to be done about some of it..

Seriously, moms, try not to overdo all the things people expect of stay at home moms. You deserve time for yourself. Doing things for your kids, putting them in activities, volunteering and so forth have their place, but put limits on these things and make sure to take time to take care of yourself. You really don’t want to burn out on what can be a generally good time of your life.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss how not to burn out as a stay at home mom. For now, can you think of more things that leave you feeling burned out as a SAHM?

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

April 21st, 2016

I Can Finally Use My New Home Office

New Home Office

When we bought our new house last October, one of the things I adored about it was the space for a home office. It’s a nice size room in an awkward space for any other use – that is to say, pretty much the perfect space for a home office. Just a little private from the main flow of the house. Naturally, its first use was to store all the stuff we didn’t have a place for right away when we moved in. But no more. I have it pretty much cleaned out, and the first piece of furniture in.

The first piece of furniture isn’t office furniture as such, however. It’s a futon, because this room will also be a guest room. Not often, but family circumstances dictated that I make it ready as a guest room even before I buy a desk and get it in there, because it may be needed for a guest soon. But the futon folds up into a rather nice couch, and so I can use the room itself as intended while we don’t have company.

Yesterday was the first day I was able to do that, and it was wonderful! My husband wasn’t feeling well after a blood draw at a doctor appointment, so he left work early and came home. I arrived home from grocery shopping, and there he was in the living room, sitting on the couch watching a movie. He offered to turn it off, but I pointed out that my office was now a perfectly good option for me.

The futon isn’t the perfect solution for my office, but I have plans to buy a standing desk soon. I even think I know which one – the price is great, and the company even has an office less than 10 miles from me, which was a big shock. Usually nothing is close to me except maybe the grocery store.

Still, I was able to work pretty well in there. A door to close really does help with distractions, which I have known for a long time. Before, the bedroom was my only choice if I needed to close my door, and that’s just not as good as a dedicated office space.

With summer vacation not all that far off, I really have to get this office set up the rest of the way. My desk will take some time to arrive, but it looks as though I’ll be able to pick it up rather than pay for delivery, which is wonderful. Here’s hoping I can have a really productive summer in my new home office!

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

January 14th, 2016

Your Work at Home Job Hunt – Are You Prepared?

Your Work at Home Job Hunt - Are You Prepared?

If you want to work at home, you need to be ready for your work at home job hunt, just as you would for any other kind of job. Your search will generally go better when you plan things out in advance and are generally prepared to apply for the jobs you find. There are several strategies which can help you get ready.

Know What Kinds Of Work at Home Jobs You Want

I often have people email me asking how to find a work at home job. Asked like that, the question lumps all work at home jobs together and is not a good start. “Work at home job” indicates where you would be working, not what you will be doing. It’s rarely the most important consideration when preparing for your search, even when home is where you really want to work and you have good reasons for that preference.

What matters more is the kind of work you are interested in and qualified for. Employers won’t be all that interested in why you want to work at home, although they might ask in an interview. Far more important to them will be the skills and qualifications you bring to the job. Figuring out what you want to do prepares you to figure out your qualifications in the next step.

Figure Out Your Qualifications

In some ways, your qualifications matter more when you want to work at home than when you want to work outside the home. Training home based workers has different challenges, as does supervising them. Add in how many people really want to work at home for various reasons, and things get pretty competitive.

Review your experience from other jobs. What makes you qualified for the jobs you want? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Some work at home jobs require special training before you apply. Medical transcription and medical coding are two popular options that require you to get training on your own first. Some jobs also require certifications and a couple of years experience. Other jobs, such as software development, may require a college degree or significant experience. Be realistic about what you’re qualified for and what you can get qualified for.

Network

Put the word out that you’re looking for work. Friends, family, former and current coworkers, your alumni association, members of your church, parents of your children’s friends, neighbors, members of any organization you belong to – all can be helpful in your work at home job hunt. You never know who will have information about job openings.

Be clear about your employment goals and be ready to tell people about them. You may have only a few seconds in person, so have your pitch ready.

Include LinkedIn in your networking efforts. You might be surprised by some of the connections you can find once you’ve started. Make sure you understand how to use LinkedIn. Be professional – LinkedIn isn’t about your personal life. Participate in groups, be valuable.

Write a Better Resume

How does your resume look? Is it ready to send off to employers? When was the last time you updated it?

Here’s the thing about resumes. You should have a resume that you can readily adapt to each job you apply for. Pay special attention to the exact skills and qualifications the employer is looking for. Many companies have a computer sort resumes before a human ever sees them, and having the right keywords for the job improves the chances that a human will consider yours.

Read up on what makes a good resume. There are plenty of books on resume writing, and many are available in Kindle editions so you can access it right away.

Plan Your Cover Letter

Like your resume, your cover letter should be customized for each application. Plan out a basic one, and take the time to edit it for each job.

Your cover letter should be an introduction to you and your skills. Exactly how you should write your cover letter will depend in part on the industry you want to work in. As with resumes, it can pay to read up on what makes a good cover letter.

Some online job applications will not have space for a cover letter, and if that’s the case, don’t try to figure out how to send one. Go with the information requested by the employer.

Find Your Preferred Employers

There may be some employers you would really like to work for. Find their website and where they post job openings, both on and off their website. If you have any connections with people who work there already, on LinkedIn or other websites, let them know what you’re looking for. You might hear about openings before they’re posted if you’re lucky and have done a good job networking.

Discover the Best Keywords For Your Work at Home Job Hunt

Don’t rely only on the employers you’ve already heard of. Figure out the best keywords to help you find other opportunities you’re qualified for. “Work at home” is not the best keyword for home based work much of the time, although it has its uses. Too many scams use it for it to be your best primary keyword. “Telecommute,” “virtual” and “remote” are often better. Combine them with the kind of work you want; don’t use them alone.

Choose Good Job Boards

There are plenty of job boards out there to help you with your job search. The work at home job board here at Home With the Kids is free. Other job boards such as Indeed, Monster, Dice and Simply Hired can also provide good leads, although you will need to sort out the jobs that actually offer you the opportunity to work at home.

You can also consider paid job boards such as Home Job Stop. The advantage to such sites is that they may do more screening of employers, to make sure they’re legitimate. A good paid job board will be focused on what you need from it – work at home jobs, for example – and have a clear refund policy in case you find the service unsatisfactory.

Be Sensible About Your Goals

Do not set a daily goal of so many applications or anything like that. It’s a waste of time to apply to jobs just to meet some arbitrary goal you’ve set yourself.

Your goals should have more to do with accomplishing a successful job hunt. Some days you might spend several hours reviewing job listings and applying to interesting positions. Other days you may not find much you haven’t looked at already. An arbitrary goal may push your to put too little effort into some applications or apply to jobs that aren’t really relevant to your skills.

Taking these steps to prepare yourself for your work at home job hunt can improve your chances of success. It may take some time – most job hunts do – but with persistence and a good match of your skills to the jobs you apply, you might land the job you want.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

December 31st, 2015

10 Ways to Work at Home More Effectively in the New Year

 

10 Ways to Work at Home More Effectively in the New Year

After the hectic holidays, it’s good to get back to working at home effectively. It’s also a good time to look at your old habits and decide which need to be changed or improved. An honest assessment of how you’re working will be a big help in making the new year better than the one before.

1. Know Your Personal Roadblocks

We all have personal roadblocks that limit our work hours, the chances we’re willing to take, the changes we haven’t yet made. Take a close look at what’s keeping you from getting the things done you haven’t managed to do yet. Commit to making it happen, whether it’s working more hours, promoting your website or home business in a new ways, or starting something entirely new.

2. Talk to Your Family

Solid communication with your family about what you need from them to successfully work from home makes a big difference. Remind them about when they’re allowed to interrupt you and deal with new problems that have come up. Family can be both your greatest obstacle and the greatest help in your ability to work at home.

Do the same with any friends who have made working at home more difficult for you in the past.

3. Update Your Goals

Are you accomplishing everything you would like to in your work life? Do your current goals really reflect where you want or need to go?

Take a look at your goals and decide if they’re still right for you. You may want to update some, drop others, and break still others into smaller steps.

4. Review Your Schedule

How well does your schedule work for you? Are you productive at the times you need to be productive?

Consider changing things up if your schedule isn’t working for you and if your type of work gives you that kind of flexibility. Make the most of whatever flexibility you have to improve your productivity.

Your schedule should also include some clear time off. Have times of the day when, short of a crisis, you do not work. You need time to be with your family, friends and to do your own thing. Make sure you get it.

5. Organize Your Home Office or Work Space

How does your home office or work space look? It it messy or disorganized? Now is a good time to get it back into shape. Remove distractions, make sure the things you need are easy to find or reach.

If possible, make your work space more clearly defined, even if you don’t have the space for a home office. Certainly a room with a door you can close is a huge help – my oldest daughter found that out recently when she did some catch up work for school in my office. She was impressed by how much easier it was to work in a dedicated space with the door closed.

6. Work on Your Communication

Many people find communication with employers, coworkers, clients and so forth difficult when they work at home. There are many ways to handle this. You might schedule online or in person meetings. You might text updates regularly. However you need to communicate with anyone you work with, make sure it’s effective.

7. Review and Update Your Tools

Take a look at the tools and supplies you need to do your job. Are they as current as they should be? Is there a more effective option within your budget?

This can include your computer, the software you use, and any other equipment. You may also want to take a look at your internet connection, making sure it’s the right choice for your work and personal needs, and that you’re on the right plan.

8. Update Your Skills

How current are your skills? Is there something you would like to learn that would make you more effective or help you progress in your career or business? Pick something you would like to learn and make time in your schedule to learn that new skill or update an old one.

9. Promise to Take Breaks

Make a promise to yourself that you will take breaks throughout your work day, just as you would in an outside the home job. You don’t have to limit yourself to 15 minutes as you would at other jobs unless your employer requires that strict a schedule, as some do. Take the time you need to refresh yourself. Go for a walk, get some exercise, do something not associated with work. You’ll come back better able to focus and generally more productive

10. Don’t Neglect Your Social Needs

Isolate is a major problem for people who work at home. You don’t have coworkers right there to chat with. If you want a social life, you have to make it happen.

If it works for you, try working at a coffee shop or other place with wifi. Make time to do something fun with other people during your off hours. Chat with friends on social media when you aren’t working.

Don’t let your social time interfere with your work time, of course. Socializing when you should be working is a major problem for a lot of people who work at home. Don’t let it be a problem for you.

I hope these steps will help you plan for a productive New Year working at home.

Disclosure: I often review or mention products for which I may receive compensation in the form of affiliate commissions. All opinions are my own.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.