Last Updated June 29th, 2018

How Do You Balance Housework And Working At Home?

How Do You Balance Housework And Working At Home?

Do the dishes distract you when you’re working at home? Housework that needs to be done takes away from your work hours if you let it. But is that a reasonable expectation of an at home parent? How do you balance housework and working at home?

There are a lot of challenges to working at home. You have a lot to get accomplished in the day and many distractions. It’s easy to have very high expectations of what you will accomplish on a particular day, and it’s not always realistic.

This is where the flexibility of some work at home opportunities becomes a disadvantage. You can set up your own schedule, and that means people start expecting more of you in the home and at work.

Worse, you probably feel guilty at times for focusing on work rather than on keeping a clean house. You’re home and you may feel like it’s a part of your job to keep that house clean. Traditional duty of the stay at home parent (especially moms) and all that.

But being at home should not mean that it all falls onto your shoulders. You need to look at what the appropriate divisions are.

What Are Your Work Hours?

How many hours you work at your home based job or business can play a role in how much housework is reasonable for you to do. Working a full time work at home job only differs from working a full time outside the home job by the length of the commute.

If you work part time from home, you may be able to spare more time for housework, of course. How that works, in reality, depends on what else you have to get done during the day. Don’t forget a little time to set yourself up for a productive work at home day.

Some of what you can take on around the house as a work at home parent may depend upon what time you work. If you have to work at the time dinner is normally made, you can’t be expected to make dinner every night. Someone else will need to handle it.

work vs cleaning

Does Your Income Matter?

Many a work at home mom or dad may feel as though they should take on more household work because they don’t earn that much yet.

Maybe your job doesn’t pay that well. Maybe your home business hasn’t taken off yet. But at this moment you earn significantly less than your partner.

Do you need to make it up by handling more of the household chores?

Personally, I would still count more by hours worked than by income. I’d rather have a partnership count these things by effort rather than dollars. In the end, you’re all contributing, right?

Another problem with taking on extra housework if your income is on the low side is that you put too much of your energy into that, and too little into improving your income. Taking on that extra housework can tire you out.

What Other Chores Are You Taking On?

Housework is often not the only chore that a work at home mom or dad takes on regularly. When you’re dividing things up, you need to consider everything that each person does.

I drive my kids to and from school each day, for example. We don’t live close to their schools, and while walking to and from would not be impossible, it would be difficult for the kids and very time consuming. Driving them makes more sense, even though it takes a chunk out of my day.

Chores like that have to be done by the person who is available since they must be done at certain times. Schedules are often planned around such things. It can more than make up for the lack of a commute for a work at home mom or dad.

kid cleaning

How Do Want The Housework Divided?

How to divide the housework can be challenging for any family. People don’t always agree on how clean everything needs to be.

Get your spouse involved. Get the kids involved. Don’t let all the housework fall on one pair of shoulders. It’s important to talk about these things so that no one feels as though they’re carrying an unfair share of the load.

The division of chores with children depends on how old the kids are. The amount of housework I have to do has greatly decreased as the kids have grown. They can handle quite a bit.

But when the kids are young, they’re often more hindrance than help. When you can spare the time, it’s still a great idea to let them help, so that they learn how to do the job. It will pay off in the long run.

Some of the division may depend on what each person prefers to do, so long as everyone feels the division is fair. If one parent prefers yardwork to housework, and that takes an equal amount of work, there may be a good division right there.

Figure out what you will do at which times. Housework that needs to be done can be scheduled just like anything in your home business.

How well all of this works can tell you a lot about how supportive your spouse is of your working at home. If you both work a similar number of hours, yet you’re at home and expected to do a significantly larger chunk of the housework, you may need to have a talk to make sure that what you do is being taken seriously. Sometimes it’s not. Other times it will just be that your spouse hasn’t quite realized how much work you’re doing.

Pick The Right Time

Knowing when to do housework when working at home is key to keeping it from messing with your work schedule. There’s a right time and a wrong time to do things.

The wrong time, of course, is when you should be working. Laundry days are probably the worst for interfering with working at home – it has to be moved so often. Any chore you can save for when you aren’t working gives you more time to work on the things that earn money for you.

The right time to do housework is outside of your working hours. You can do little bits during your breaks, but isn’t it better to take an actual break for you sometimes? Save the housework for when you can get more done. Try these tips to help.

  1. Clean the night before – If the dishes are done after dinner, and the clutter put away before anyone goes to bed, there’s much less temptation to clean during the day.
  2. Make freezer meals – Plan out some meals that you can make ahead of time and put into the freezer. Seek out recipes that can be frozen and then put into the crockpot, pressure cooker or oven when you want to make them. This saves a ton of meal prep time if done right.
  3. Get rid of stuff – The more stuff you have, the more mess you have. Declutter your home and you’ll have much less cleaning to do.

computer vs laundry

Know When To Let The Housework Go

There will be times when it makes sense to let some of the housework go. You won’t be able to handle it all, all of the time. Life gets in the way.

It’s common for things to be on the messy side when children are little, for example. Unless you’re very strict about toys being put away immediately, kids are super messy creatures. Odds are that you won’t be able to keep up with their abilities to make a mess.

A crisis, either within the family or your work, can also cut down on how much housework you can handle. If you suddenly add 10-20 hours a week to your work schedule, obviously you won’t be able to do as much housework.

Depending on your family, you may have to deal with the house being a mess for a time. The other possibility is that the other members of the family pick up the slack. That won’t work every time – a family crisis can make it harder for the entire family to keep up.

Is It Worth The Expense To Hire A Maid Service?

If your household income is high enough, sometimes it makes a lot of sense to hire a maid service. This won’t take care of the daily chores but can be a huge help with the bigger cleaning jobs.

The decision to hire a maid service can depend in part on how you value your time versus money. How does your hourly rate compare with what the maid service costs? If it gives you more time to work, a maid service can be good for your income.

Of course, if you can’t resist cleaning everything before the service comes, you may not want to hire a maid service. Make sure it will save you a good amount of time and effort in keeping your home as clean as you want it.

Talk About It If Things Aren’t Working Out

It’s common to find that whatever balance you agreed upon for housework won’t always work out. We’re all human.

Try not to let resentment build.

Instead, sit down and talk about what’s happening. Discuss solutions you can agree upon. Make job lists if they’ll help, or set up a calendar. Find something to make it easier for everyone to do their share.

If all else fails, hang a sign like this one:

and see if everyone gets the hint. It might be worth the smiles, especially if you have any Harry Potter fans in the house.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 3rd, 2018

Should You Ever Let Unexpected Guests Interfere With Your Work At Home Day?

Should You Ever Let Unexpected Guests Interfere With Your Work At Home Day?

Have you ever had unexpected guests show up on a day you need to work at home? It can really mess up your productivity. If you want people to take your work at home job or business seriously, you usually have to enforce your work hours strictly. But are there times you should give in and just be with your unexpected guests? That depends on a few factors.

I had this situation recently, although it was entirely my own doing. I ran into a friend at the store and invited her over spontaneously. She moved out of the area a while ago, so I very rarely see her. It was a snap decision to change my schedule so that we could catch up for a while.

That’s not always a good idea, but it worked for me this time. We had a great visit, and I worked extra another time. That’s the nice part about being self employed. I can get away with that. Not everyone can.

How Strict Is Your Work At Home Schedule?

If you work for someone else and you have a strict schedule, you probably cannot afford to let unexpected guests interfere with that. With some companies, it would mean risking your job. That’s almost never worth it.

If someone shows up wanting to visit and your schedule simply won’t allow it, say so or don’t even answer the door. No matter how some people may try to guilt you, you are under no obligation to play host just because someone else has the time to visit.

If you have a lot of trouble with unexpected guests coming to your door when you need to work, consider investing in a Ring doorbell or similar. This can make a lot easier to see if you want to answer the door at all. Keep it muted if you can’t have background noise, of course.

Can You Adjust Your Schedule?

If you can change your schedule so that you have time to visit with your unexpected guests. As I said above, that’s what I did so I could visit with my friend.

If you can work later in the day or on a different day without creating problems for yourself, you can decide if you want to visit with your guests more than you want to work at that moment.

I do not recommend doing this often, as you will create an expectation that of course you will drop everything. That’s bad when you can’t change your schedule. I doubt that I change mine for unexpected guests more than once a year.

Do You Think You Can Spare The Time?

Even if you can adjust your schedule, can you really spare the time? Be honest with yourself.

If you have a deadline, that time has to be made up somehow. If you don’t have a deadline, will adjusting your schedule make it harder to reach your goals?

Be very careful in how often you spare the time for guests when it wasn’t planned ahead. You don’t want anyone thinking this should be a routine thing.

When you can spare the time for guests, it’s one of the perks of working at home. When you can’t, it’s the same disadvantage as any other job.

Set Time Limits

If someone comes over at a time you consider it reasonable to call it a break time, make sure they understand that. Explain that it’s just like your break time at any other job – you have maybe 15 minutes for most breaks, or however much longer if it’s a meal break.

Then enforce those limits.

Time limits can be more difficult to enforce than a flat out “no.” You know how conversations can carry on. You may have to be as strict with yourself as you are with your guest.

Make Plans For Later

If now is not a good time, but sometime later is, let your guests know. Just tell them “I’m off work at x, and I’d love to see you then,” and send them on their way.

This may be easier said than done, but making your work hours clear and enforcing the idea that you are truly busy at those times is important. You’d do the same to someone who interrupted you on the way to an outside the home job, right?

Can Someone Else Entertain Them?

If you aren’t home alone while you work at home, maybe the other people there can entertain the guests.

This is why my kids can have friends over while I work without disturbing me, provided the parents aren’t along. If the parents want to stay and chat, I need to be in a situation where I can afford the distraction.

I don’t have to be on the phone to work, so children playing is only so distracting. It helps that my kids are old enough that I don’t have to supervise, and the garage is set up to be a lot of fun. That keeps them well away from my office most of the time.

If your spouse has company, you may want to be polite and say hello, but you should also explain if you are not to be disturbed. Your spouse could do that as well, of course. If you do a job where background noise is not allowed, make sure the rules are well understood, as well as the reasons for them.

Can You Work And Chat?

This won’t work most of the time, especially if you have to be on the phone or otherwise undistracted. But if you can work and chat with your guests, you can be at least a little productive.

My mother recently commented on how I manage to work even with distractions around. That is one of the great parts about blogging – I can listen to the conversations around me but not take part unless I want to. Some routine tasks are even easier to handle while chatting with others.

Chatting with guests will slow down your productivity. Don’t fool yourself about that. But if it’s worth it to you and doesn’t create a complete mess of your work day, do it.

What If The Unexpected Guests Don’t Want To Hear “No?”

Some people are really bad at taking “no” for an answer. They don’t tend to take “I’m working” much better, if at all. It can be very difficult to get this kind of person to respect your work hours.

If you can get away with not answering the door, that’s one way to handle the situation. This won’t always succeed – some people will keep knocking or ringing the bell a long time. They may even call or text to insist that you answer the door.

Start with a conversation to explain why you can’t drop everything for them. It may or may not work, but it’s usually the best place to start. Not everyone understands that working at home is the same as having any other job. Help them learn to respect that.

If that isn’t enough, find someone you can enlist for help. Your spouse, a sibling, inlaw, or mutual friend may be able to get things across better.

If all else fails, be consistent in your refusals. One “yes” will make your life that much more difficult. It will take time to make stubborn people understand that they need to respect your work hours just as they would anyone else’s. The fact that you’re at home must not be allowed to make any difference that you don’t welcome.

This Goes For Texting Chats Too

These days, you may have more trouble with friends and family who want to chat all day on text or other apps, rather than visit in person. The issues are much the same, however. You have to learn to say no when it’s too distracting to your workday.

Some people may not like it, but if you can’t text at the time, a quick “I’m at work, can’t talk now” reply should be good enough. Once you’ve said that, ignore the person trying to get your attention. I know some people feel it’s rude to ignore a text, but if you’ve made it clear that it’s not a good time, the person ignoring that is the one being rude.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 14th, 2013

How to Have a Productive Day When You Just Aren’t In the Mood

How to Have a Productive Day When You Just Aren't In the Mood

Just about no one feels like going to work every day, even when you love what you do. Sometimes you just want a day off. When you work at home that’s often possible, but it’s not always a good idea if you’re serious about earning a living. How can you push yourself to have a productive work at home day when you’re really not in the mood to work?

Do a quick work out.

Get your body moving and you may feel better about getting to work. A quick walk around the block or a bit of time on any exercise equipment you may own (I have a Total Gym that has come in handy at times) can improve your mood. A bit of exercise can satisfy that need to feel as though you’re procrastinating, yet make you more productive in the long run.

Take days off regularly.

Don’t try to work seven days a week, every week. There may be times that this is necessary, but it shouldn’t be your life. Take time off every week, especially when you can do things with your family.

Write a to do list.

A to do list can help you quite a bit when you aren’t quite in the mood to work. Use it to guide your day’s work, so you have no doubt about what you most need to get done that day.

Break big tasks into smaller ones to make it easier to check things off. It’s easier to be productive you if continue to see that you’ve made progress. If a task is too big, you may not feel like you’re getting enough done when in fact you’ve done quite a bit.

Take breaks.

Taking regular breaks from work is something you should do even when you are in the mood to work. A break refreshes your mind, and you may get more done with breaks than you would without breaks.

Get inspired.

What inspires you to work? What do you hope to achieve in the long run? Think about why your work matters to you, then get to work.

Tell someone else what you plan to get done today.

Sometimes internal motivation just isn’t enough. You need to have an external push to get things going. Tell a friend or family member what you’re going to get done, post your goal on your Facebook wall, or otherwise tell someone what you’re going to get done today. Knowing that others expect you to reach a particular goal can give you that extra push. Who wants to explain why you didn’t reach that goal you shared? Just don’t waste too much of the day updating people on your progress.

Start with a small job.

What’s one of the little things you need to get done, something not all that overwhelming? Maybe just a 2-5 minute job. If you’re having trouble getting in the mood for work in general, it may help to do some small thing, insignificant in itself, that will get you to do any work at all.

Remind yourself why you’re working at home.

Sure, you know why you’re working at home, but do you really think about that reason or just take it for granted? Inspire yourself by thinking about why you do what you do.

Think positively about your work day.

Yeah, you’re not in the mood to work. Reason doesn’t matter, it’s just the way you feel. It’s a negative thought process all too easy to fall into.

Change it around. Think positively about your upcoming work day and how productive you’re going to be. Then take action.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 10th, 2013

How To Defeat The Procrastination Monster When You Work at Home

How To Defeat The Procrastination Monster When You Work at Home

If you want to successfully work at home, there’s a monster you must defeat. No, not the cute monster you call your child, at least not every time you want to work. I’m talking about the monster known as procrastination, that gobbles up your work time in such insidious ways. If you want to beat this monster and be productive, you had better prepare.

Discover the Monster’s Lair

First you must figure out where your monster comes from. What makes you procrastinate?

Procrastination monsters love hanging around your children, and there’s only so much to be done at some ages about what procrastination children cause. You’re usually best off finding ways to work at times your kids are less likely to need your attention.

Procrastination monsters love your computer too, especially if you go to sites such as Facebook, Pinterest or anyplace where you can connect with friends or play games.

Whatever you do that leads to procrastination, do what you can to avoid it. You may not be able to entirely avoid the things that make you procrastinate. If you market on Facebook or Pinterest, for example, sometimes you will need to go on those sites, but need to find ways to keep your visits effective.

Think About Why You Want to Do What You Want to Do

It’s not enough to know what makes you procrastinate. You need to know why you want to work. What makes this important to you?

Plan to Defeat the Monster

The procrastination monster has difficulty interfering with a well planned day. Set goals, know what tasks you need to get done, and what times you do your best work. Commit to getting them done and avoiding the things that make procrastination easier than working. Make your goals something you can reach in a reasonable time as well as longer range goals. Daily goals have as much a place in your plans as annual goals.

Many people find it helpful to write their goals down. There’s something about checking things off a list that can be very motivating.

Consider finding an accountability partner. It’s much harder for the procrastination monster to get you if you have a friend to help you keep on track. No one likes to say “I wasn’t productive today” to someone who really cares how well you did.

Review Your Progress

Take a look at how you’re doing. Are you reaching your goals? Is the procrastination monster winning or losing? Some things are going to work for you. Some things aren’t. Looking at your progress can help you figure out what still needs to change.

Review your progress regularly. What works at one point may not work in the future for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 5th, 2007

What’s Really Important to You?

Being a stay at home or work at home parent means sacrifice for most people. It is often a statement that you value your family above money or your career. Not always, but often.

But even in your day to day life you need to think about what is most important to you. If your children are in a lot of activities that interfere with family time, is that the right use of your priorities? Of your children’s priorities? Is it right for the family?

Sometimes the right answer is not easily seen. If your kids love their activities, for example, you might not want to make them give those activities up, even though they result in such a loss of family time. On the other hand, taking a break might be the right thing to do.

Similarly, you have to balance working at home with working on housework. How important is a clean home to you in comparison to having a successful work at home business?

My own balance can be a bit off at times. If I let housework slide a little too far because I’m feeling inspired in relation to my business, there will quickly come a time where I will have to work much harder on housework than I would have if I had simply kept up.

And of course there is no substitute for time with the kids.

One of the key things I try to do (don’t always succeed, but try), is to minimize how often I deal with a particular item. Mail, both electronic and paper, needs to be sorted and disposed of quickly. The majority may go in the trash, but the rest really should be read immediately, and a decision made. The fewer times I have to interact with a given item, the better.

Keeping your life organized and focusing on what really matters to you is a great help when it comes to perspective. You will know what matters the most to you and what you really don’t care all that much about.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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