Last Updated October 2nd, 2018

How to Create A Kickass Work At Home Mom Schedule

How to Create A Kickass Work At Home Mom Schedule

Being a work at home mom is more challenging than many people imagine. Sure, you can always be there for your kids, but then again, you’re ALWAYS there for your kids. It can get in the way of being productive. How do you find that balance that makes a kickass work at home mom schedule happen?

It’s not always easy. A kid gets sick, the fridge breaks down, and will the phone ever stop ringing? What is that smell? And when the kids are little, there’s always something more they need. When they get bigger, they give you new worries.

But for normal work at home days, you need to set up a routine. Something that helps you be productive at work as well and lets you be a mom when you need to be.

Sometimes your work at home mom schedule will be set for you by your employer. If they say you have to work 9-5 every day, that’s pretty much going to be your schedule. Do your best to be productive during your official work hours and teach your family to respect that.

But if you have more flexibility open to you, setting up your schedule can be more challenging. More flexibility leaves you with more room for procrastination. That can destroy your productivity and keep you from being a good employee or running a successful home business.

So how do you set up your work at home mom schedule?

Figure Out Your Best Working Hours

The first thing you need to do is figure out what your best working hours will be. This may take experimentation or may be set by the needs of your employer. Here are some of the things you should consider as you pick your hours if it’s up to you:

  • When does your family need you most?
  • When do you feel you will be most productive?
  • How many hours do you need to work each day?
  • Do you prefer early mornings, late nights, or daytime work hours?
  • Split shift or work straight through with occasional breaks?
  • When will someone else be available to the kids?
  • When do the kids need to be picked up from school or activities? Is that your responsibility?
  • Are weekends for work or for the family?

These are all very important considerations. Having someone else available to the kids, for example, can help cut down on how often they interrupt you as you work. This is vital if you aren’t allowed to have background noise when you’re on the phone. But even if background noise doesn’t matter, it helps a lot if you can keep the kids from being distractions in general.

This is not a “set once and forget it” kind of deal. You will want to review your schedule regularly. Sometimes you’ll find that your most productive hours aren’t when you thought they would be. Other times you’ll come to realize that the needs of your family have changed so much that your schedule isn’t working anymore. Be open to change as necessary. If your daily schedule is kicking your ass rather than helping you be amazingly productive, there’s a problem.

work at home scheduling

Set Your Office Hours

Whether you have a home office with a door you can close or you work on the couch, set your office hours. Make sure your family understands what you expect from them when you’re working.

The better you stick to your office hours, the better most people will be about respecting them. If you constantly allow the kids, friends, or your spouse interrupt you when they know you’re supposed to be working, they’ll learn that your office hours aren’t firm.

Plan Your Work Day

Having a plan for every work day is a huge help to productivity. You’ll lose much less time to indecision if you have a plan in mind.

Some people prefer to plan out their next work day at the end of the previous one. This works because you know exactly where you are with what you were doing. Hopefully, you also know what needs to be done next.

Others will plan things a week or more in advance. This is a huge help when you have a project that needs to be done by a deadline. Take some time to figure out where you need to be on the project each day and avoid a scramble to get it all done at the end.

You can mix these up, of course. You can have a plan laid out for a week or more, but make changes as needed if you fall behind, get ahead of schedule or realize something needs to be added in.

Don’t Avoid The Jobs You Dread

As you work at home, you may find that some parts of what you do just aren’t fun. In fact, you may even hate them, even if they’re important to your overall success.

The key to succeeding with these is to get them done first, according to Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. If you get the difficult things out of the way, the things you enjoy doing more are all that are left. This can make for a much more productive work at home day.

If you’re running a home business, of course, another option is to hire a virtual assistant to handle some of the jobs you dread. Then you don’t have to avoid them – you just have to assign them. The money it costs can be well worth it if you become more productive as a result.

Set Up Efficient Routines And Systems

Having efficient routines and systems can make a huge difference in your life. They can keep you from having to worry about a lot of little things. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Set bills on autopay.
  • Use appropriate automation for social media.
  • Choose the best day of the week for running errands.
  • Schedule chores so everyone knows when they need to do their share.

hourglass

Plan For More Than Just Work

One of the problems with working at home is how easy it is to work too many hours. Your work is always right there, in easy reach. If you don’t plan for more than just your work, you may find that you’re neglecting yourself and your family.

Some of these plans may be things you want to do daily. You may want to put aside time to play with the kids or to make meals, for example. Sure, they sound like things that should just come naturally, but if they aren’t happening and you want them to, find a way to make them happen.

Exercise is another good item to put into your plans. Keeping fit is a generally good idea, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You don’t even have to get a gym membership, although there are advantages if you can afford one.

Plan for a family walk around the block each day, for example. You get exercise and family time all in one shot that way.

If a local playground is close enough, you can make that a part of the routine as well. You can exercise while the kids play.

Make Time For Sleep

If you’re like me, your least productive days are when you’re tired. For one reason or another, you didn’t get enough sleep the night before.

Maybe you stayed up too late on social media. Maybe one of the kids woke up sick in the middle of the night. It might even be your spouse’s fault (wink).

Whatever the reason, you didn’t get enough sleep and you are tired!

If this happens once in a while (and it probably will), that’s just the way life goes. But if you’re tired from lack of sleep every day, you need to do something about it.

Helping your kids get enough sleep can help you get more work and more sleep. When your kids are napping age, that’s a great time for you to be productive. You might need those naps in the early days for a little nap yourself (babies are exhausting!), but otherwise, take advantage and work. It’s one less excuse to stay up late at night.

Plan Your Chores

Odds are good that you will do at least some chores during the day when you work at home, especially if your hours are flexible. It’s so hard to put them off.

The key is to keep them from taking up too much of your workday. Consider this situation:

You’re about to start your workday when you realize last night’s dishes weren’t done, so you empty and reload the dishwasher.

This leads to the realization that the countertops are filthy. So you clean them.

Are you… yes, you are. You are completely out of dishwasher detergent. A quick run to the store won’t take that long, will it?

Home again after buying far more than dishwasher detergent (why waste a trip, after all?), you put the groceries away. Can’t leave that job halfway done.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much for small chores to pile up into something that eats up an hour or more of what should have been productive working time. The whole situation quickly becomes an “If You Give A Mouse A Muffin” kind of situation some days.

Sure, your home and family benefit, but when you need the money, you need the work hours.

You’re far better off if you plan out your chores in advance so that you know how much time you’re giving up to chores.

Ideally, most chores should be divided among family members as appropriate. Your kids and spouse should do their shares. Do your share of the housework outside of your working hours. That’s what you’d do if you worked outside the home, after all. It should be just as possible to do that when you work at home in most cases.

Of course, crises happen. When my fridge broke down, I lost a big chunk of work time figuring out what was safe to keep, what had to be tossed, and moving the safe stuff into the other fridge. Thank goodness for that second fridge, or I would have had to toss a lot more! But that was not a chore I could put off until a more convenient time unless I was willing to give the food more time to go bad.

work at home distraction vortex

Don’t Waste Time During Work Hours

It is so easy to waste time when you should be working. There’s so much you can do that isn’t productive but is far more fun. Video games, streaming services, and social media are major culprits.

The best way to avoid these is to not use them, or use them as little as possible during your work hours. Sure, there may be times when you need to go on social media as a part of your job, but it’s up to you to keep focused and not fall into the distraction vortex when you should be working.

This can be challenging if you aren’t in a space where you can close the door while you work. If the kids are watching a show while you’re working on your laptop in the kitchen or living room, odds are you’re going to pay a little attention to it. This is especially true as they get older and their tastes in shows get better.

I won’t even mention how bad it can get if you start binge watching a favorite show. You know that part already.

Sample Work At Home Schedule

Here’s a general idea as to how your work at home schedule may go. I’ve made up a printable version for if you want something you can print. Change it around to suit yourself, of course. If you’re an early bird, start early. If you prefer to work at night, work at night. And if your job requires certain hours, plug them in.

I don’t have to plan time for the kids during much of the day because mine are all in school. If you have children at home with you all day, you have to plan around their needs as well, of course.

work at home schedule sample

6-8 a.m.

Get up, take a shower, eat, and get the kids off to school. All this stuff takes a lot of time. The older and more independent the kids get, the easier the first part of your day will go.

If you have a small amount of extra time, this is a good part of the day to drop a chore or so into. Nothing that takes a lot of time, but getting those breakfast dishes into the dishwasher keeps them from distracting you later.

You can do a little work if there are quick blog or business tasks you can perform. If I have extra time in the morning, for example, I may find and post a few job leads. It’s something I can start quickly, and stop just as easily when I need to.

8-9 a.m.

This is the part of the day when I like to run errands or exercise at the gym. I’m already out and about because I dropped the kids off at school. Both the gym and the grocery store aren’t far off that route, so it’s a very convenient time to do these things.

If you don’t want to go to the gym, you can exercise at home, of course. There are lots of great exercise videos on YouTube to help you get started.

9 a.m. – noon

Time to get serious about working. Posting job leads, managing my social media and planning blog posts. I only occasionally write in the morning because I rarely have a solid block of time to focus on it and I hate having my train of thought interrupted when I’m writing.

Noon – 1 p.m.

Lunchtime. Time to eat and take a brain break. If I watch a show, it’s something that won’t tempt me to keep watching when I should be working after lunch.

An hour is longer than it usually takes me to make a quick lunch and eat, of course. Breaks are important when you work at home, and you should give yourself appropriate breaks as you work. You will probably be more productive.

This is also a good time for those quick chores you want to get done. Don’t only do chores during your breaks most days. Sometimes everything will be a mess and it’s necessary, but you deserve a real break just as much as someone who works outside the home.

1-3 p.m.

Time to focus on writing. Some days it’s easy to finish an entire blog post in this time. Other days there’s too much writing and thinking to be done.

I like to get as much done as possible before it’s time to get the kids from school. How I miss the days when we lived walking distance to the school!

3-4 p.m.

Help kids with homework as necessary. Usually only my youngest needs help anymore, and her needs can run anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour. It depends on how well she understands the subject and how cooperative she’s feeling. If she’s tired, it won’t go well. This is why I’m open to having her take a nap if she’s too tired for homework. It will go so much faster if she isn’t exhausted.

If no homework help is needed, I work. The kids go off and play.

4-5 p.m.

With any luck at all, I can continue working for a time before making dinner.

5-8 p.m.

Time to make dinner, eat dinner, and have some family time. How long that all takes depends on what I’m making, how much homework the kids have to do, and what we feel like doing as a family.

If we’re being really good, this time often includes a family walk around the block. It’s some light exercise as the day cools down. Summer heat tends to break this habit, but fall can bring it back.

8 p.m. onward

The kids are ready to do their own thing by this point most evenings, so I work on making images for blog posts and social media. It takes how long it takes.

Depending on my plans and mood, I may kick back and relax after, keep working, or try to learn something new for my business.

Be Ready To Change

The times in this schedule are really not as solid as they may look. The whole thing depends on how long each activity really takes, as I am in charge of my own time.

Getting the kids to and from school are the most solid things on here, although I skipped the part about how their activities can change when I pick them up after school. There are days when I have to make an extra trip out to deal with the differing schedules.

Some days I’ll have a late lunch. Sometimes errands take more of the day than I want them to. And some days it seems like almost nothing goes right. You just have to deal with it all as it comes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you set up your own work at home mom schedule and then it doesn’t work out. If you’re in charge of your own schedule, take advantage of that fact to figure out what works for you.

The whole point of setting up a schedule is to give your day more structure and to help you be productive. If it’s not doing that, it’s not working. Figure out why your schedule isn’t working, and make changes until it does. You’ll be more productive once you have these things figured out.

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 September 27th, 2018

6 Keys to Smart Frugal Living

6 Keys to Smart Frugal Living

I prefer to live a fairly frugal lifestyle. While it’s in part due to the limitations of my family’s income, it’s also a personal preference. Being careful about how much you spend, even when you can easily afford it, is just sensible.

Be sure you’re doing smart frugal living, however. It’s not just “here’s the cheap way, let’s do that!” The immediately cheap way isn’t always the cheap way in the long run, after all. You have to consider the long term, at least as much as you can fit it into your budget.

1. Go for quality.

Within reason, you have to consider quality when you buy things. The cheapest product can cost more in the long run if you have to buy it more often than you would a more expensive product.

I’m fond of how Terry Pratchett has Samuel Vimes explain it in the Discworld novel, Men At Arms, in terms of the cost of boots. A cheap pair of boots would cost him $10, and last about a season or two. Better boots would run about $50, but would last for years. This leads him to reason that the rich don’t have to spend as much money on such things because they can buy products that will last longer and cost less in the long run.

Of course, most of us can’t always afford the things that will last best. Still, when better quality and longer lasting products are within your budget, it can be more frugal to spend the extra now, rather than spend more over the long run.

This is especially true for expensive things such as furniture and cars. You want these to last as long as possible, and some extra money spent now can save you more in the future.

Kids clothes, and shoes in particular, on the other hand, you should think about how long it will be until they grow out of them. Some things you really don’t want to overspend on. Buy better quality if they’re something that can be handed down, but if you know your child is going to ruin it, go for the quality that should last until they outgrow it.

We pay more attention to the quality of my son’s running shoes, for example, than my daughter’s, because he uses them hard and can wear them out before he outgrows them. He needs better quality so they last and we don’t have to buy more in the same size. By the time my daughter wears her shoes out, she usually needs a new size anyhow.

piggy banks

2. Buy only as much as you need.

This rule is especially important when it comes to food. About 40% of the food supply in the United States is thrown away every year.  That’s a lot of food wasted, and of course money wasted too.

Think about how you handle your grocery shopping. Do you buy in bulk because that’s what you’re going to use, or because it’s a lower price per unit, and you hope to use it before it goes bad? Are you only buying the fresh meat, dairy and produce your family will use before it goes bad? Do you eat the leftovers you put back in the fridge, or do you throw them out a week later? Do you know what the sell by dates really mean or when the expiration date really matter?

Food waste happens when you eat out too. It’s not just that eating in a restaurant costs more, it’s that the portions often result in a lot of food waste.

If you want to figure out how much you’re spending in restaurants, keep track for a month or three. You might be surprised. My family doesn’t eat out very often, but it adds up fast when we do. Eating at home is a much more frugal choice, and likely to be healthier as well.

This goes for other things too, of course. Think about what the right size wardrobe is for your needs. Rethink that next gadget, and so on.

Are you overspending on your home?

Buying as much as you need goes for the home you live in too. Your rent or mortgage is probably your biggest monthly expense. Cut this one down and you can slice hundreds of dollars per month off your expenses.

It can also be one of the most difficult to cut. Moving costs money. Finding a less expensive place to live that suits all of your needs can be difficult. But if you can make it happen you’ll do your finances a huge favor.

frugal living cat

3. Get repairs done right.

When something in your home or car needs repairs, get the job done right. This doesn’t mean be a sucker for every suggested repair, but to spend enough to have the job done right the first time so that you won’t have the thing break down again in a month or two. Mechanics and repairmen can sometimes suggest a cheaper alternative to what really needs to be done when you’re concerned about price, but that may only delay the work that really needs to be done.

Whenever possible, get it done right the first time… and know how they warranty their work in case something goes wrong again. I’ve had my mechanic repeat a repair for free because something didn’t go quite right the first time he did it.

Think carefully, however, before buying an extended warranty. Make sure you know what you’re really getting before you pay for it. Often they’re nothing more than an added expense and don’t give you anything in return. How often have you had something break during what would have been the extended warranty period?

I have bought the extended warranty for a few items, and for a couple, it was even worth it. My laptop developed a bad line across its screen just a few months before the extended warranty ended. The store had to install a new screen for me. I probably would have purchased a new laptop rather than replace the screen otherwise. Laptop screens are on the pricey and difficult side to replace. The store really grumbled about the whole process.

4. “Sale” doesn’t mean “buy now.”

We all love a bargain. Sales are wonderful ways to save money on the things you need, but they’re also great for getting you to spend more money than you should. Just because you see a good deal doesn’t mean you should forget to consider whether or not you need that item right then.

I find it helpful to remember that most items will go on sale again at a later date if it’s something I might need later, but not right now. Stores often have a cycle they go through for their sales. If you know how often things go on sale, you can buy them at a good price when you need them, not just because you saw the deal and didn’t want to pass it up. And if you don’t really need it, even a great deal on it shouldn’t matter at all.

This also goes for any dollar stores you visit regularly. I belong to a Facebook group for my favorite dollar store, and it amazes me how much stuff some people buy there. I mostly get food there (they have an amazing fresh produce section), but many people get all kinds of home decor and other stuff there. Some even get to the point where they know they’re overspending, but they can’t resist the bargains.

Overspending, even on super good deals, is not a part of smart frugal living. No matter how good the deal is, think about whether you need the item or not.

frugal garden

5. Consider your health.

Don’t be so frugal that you damage your health. Don’t be too cheap to eat right, go to the doctor and dentist, take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself in general now can save you a lot of money and discomfort in the long run. This can include simple activities such as taking regular walks to keep fit.

Unless your doctor says you need them, skip the vitamin supplements. Most do little more than give you expensive urine. Some vitamins can even damage your health if you take too much of them.

Make sure you pay attention during open enrollment times for your health insurance.  If your employer offers a variety of selections, you should review your coverage choices every year. You can save a lot of money if you switch to a cheaper plan that still offers all the coverage you need. You won’t find a cheaper plan every time, but it can be a huge deal when you do.

If you have space, starting a garden can be a wonderful source of fresh produce. Even an apartment balcony may be used to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in pots. Think about your favorite vegetables and see if there’s a way you can grow them. So long as you don’t overspend on supplies, this can help you save money.

We planted fruit trees when we moved into our home as a way to save money in the long run. The trees are still young and don’t produce a lot yet, but in years to come, they’ll give us a lot of fruit to enjoy.

And of course, gardening is a nice form of exercise. It’s not terribly strenuous most of the time, but it gets you outside and doing things. That’s good for your health too.

growing money

6. Remember that smart frugal living only takes you so far.

Smart frugal living can help you reach a lot of financial goals, but it may not take you as far as you’d like. There are more important things to consider.

Increasing your income, for example, can do far more for your financial situation than most steps you take to live frugally. A raise from your current job can be a help, but sometimes finding a better job will do far more.

What you do with your savings matters as well. If being frugal is the only thing keeping you going financially, you may not have a lot of options. But if your frugality leaves you with money beyond what you need to live on, consider doing one of these things with it:

  • Pay off any remaining credit cards.
  • Pay off student loans.
  • Set up an emergency fund.
  • Put money into a 401(k).
  • Put money into a Roth IRA.
  • Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • Save toward a down payment on a home if you don’t own one.
  • Save toward a vacation.

Also remember that no matter how frugal you are, spend money on things because they’re fun once in a while. Take a family vacation. Go on a date.

These things don’t always have to cost a lot of money. A trip to a local campground can be a wonderful, memorable family experience. The same goes for a day at a local museum.

If you want to spend more money on experiences, have your family come up with ways to save money up for it. You can make that family vacation to Disneyland all the more memorable if you give the kids the pride of having helped save up for it.

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 September 24th, 2018

How to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Work at Home Job

How to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Work at Home Job

Are you having trouble landing a work at home job? It’s not an easy process for most people. There’s a lot of competition for most positions. But if you’ve applied to a lot of work at home jobs and haven’t landed one yet, odds are that there’s something you need to change in your work at home job hunt.

Following these tips won’t guarantee that you land a work at home job. Nothing can do that – it’s up to the employers, and I am not an employer. What these tips can do is help you look better as you seek out the right work at home job.

Set Up A Spreadsheet

This part is optional, but setting up a spreadsheet can help you to keep track of where you’ve applied, when you did so, and what you heard back. I’ve made a sample job application tracking spreadsheet you can use with Google Sheets.

Knowing where and when you’ve applied can save you a lot of trouble. You don’t have to rely on your memory for how long it has been since you applied.

You can add a lot more information to your spreadsheet than what I’ve done here. As you think of things you would like to track while applying for jobs, put them into your spreadsheet. It will save you a lot of frustration.

Know The Scams

If you don’t know how to spot a work at home scam, learn.

Now.

Being scammed while looking for a way to earn money is incredibly painful and humiliating. But if you’re alert, you can avoid a lot of them.

Many scams fall simply into the category of “too good to be true.” If a remote job opportunity looks too good to be true, look more carefully before applying. You might just be staring at a scam.

Others are more subtle. Some scams use the names of legitimate remote employers to gain your trust. Make sure you know for certain that the person you’re dealing with is who they say they are and that they’re representing the company you believe you’re dealing with.

Falling for a work at home scam wastes your time. It makes your job hunt more miserable. Do everything you can to avoid falling for a work at home job scam so that you can avoid that frustration.

work at home job hunt

Are You Qualified?

Before you start searching for a work at home job, go over your skills and experience. You need to narrow your search down to the jobs you are qualified to perform. I hear of a lot of people applying for work at home jobs with no consideration for what they already know how to do.

Think of it this way. Would you expect to get hired for an outside the home job if you had no qualifications for it?

Probably not.

Sometimes this means you have to get training before you start to search for jobs at all. I had to get training in medical transcription before I got my job doing that.

Training can cost money when you do it yourself. Career Step, for example, provides good training for medical transcriptionists and medical coders, but it’s not cheap. If you put in the effort and get a job after, it should be worth it. Kick back and do a poor job of training, and you’ve wasted your money.

It is not a scam to pay money for high quality training. You can get scammed if the training isn’t what it claimed, but good training no different than attending school for an outside the home job. Sometimes it’s just what you have to do.

There are some remote jobs that require no experience. If you don’t want to get training and you lack experience, these are the jobs you want to apply for.

Don’t go applying for jobs that want lots of experience – you’re wasting your time. Many employers use software to sort applications to see who has qualifications, and if you lack them, odds are that no human will even look at your application.

So just skip it if you are completely and utterly unqualified. I can’t repeat that one often enough. Companies that hire people to work at home get very tired of unqualified applicants. I’ve even had one tell me so.

Does Your Resume Show That You’re Qualified?

Your resume can ruin all your chances of landing a work at home job if it doesn’t do a good job of representing the skills and experience you will bring to the job. It’s the first impression most employers will have of you.

Write a crappy resume and you can expect crappy results. It’s really quite simple.

The first thing your work at home resume must do is show that you have the skills the employer is seeking. Look at the job description. Do you think your resume is a poor match, a good match, or a great match for the job as described?

You want it to be a great match. Failing that, a good match will do.

Look at the keywords used in the job description. If the employer is using software to sort applications, odds are that it’s looking for those keywords. Use them in your resume to improve your chances of getting an interview.

Make sure you follow directions when you apply for a work at home job. I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me after reading a job listing here on this site, thinking that I’m the employer.

I’m not. Nor do I have an “in” with these companies to help you get a job.

They also want to see that you can work independently. Anything you can do with your resume or cover letter that shows that you can work with little to no supervision will help.

Never, ever, minimize your skill with a computer. If you’re working remotely, odds are that you will be using a computer a lot, even if the job requires little to no experience. Employers don’t want to hold your hand as you learn computer basics.

Get ready to work at home

Are You Following Instructions?

How you apply for the job tells the company a lot. If you can’t follow their instructions, if your resume is a mess, they aren’t going to be interested. They’ll find someone else out of the thousands of applications from other people who want to work at home.

Some employers, for example, will have their job posted on a job board but want you to email them directly rather than apply through the board.

They may even have you use a particular subject line in your email to show that you’re paying attention.

But following instructions goes beyond applying on the right site. It’s what you do after you apply.

Many employers specify that they do NOT want you to contact them to find out the status of your application. They get a lot of them. It takes time to go through all those applications and they don’t have time to answer the questions of a bunch of hopefuls every day.

Yes, that means you have to wait and wonder about your application. Keep applying to jobs until you get one, and don’t spend so much time wondering about individual ones.

Are You Prepared For Interviews?

Be prepared if you should make it as far as the telephone interview. Even if you won’t be on the phone as a part of your job, you will need to sound professional on the phone.

Yes, you will often be going up against some heavy competition.

Whenever your interview is, find a quiet place for it. Have someone keep the kids and pets away. Keep the television and radio off, and no surfing the internet while you talk.

Preparing for a phone or video interview is much like preparing for any other interview. Have some questions ready that you can ask your interviewer.

A word of warning: Just because you get an interview doesn’t mean you should let your guard down about work at home scams. Be aware of the signs of a work at home job scam interview. They count on your eagerness for a job to get past your defenses.

home office ready

Have Your Workspace Ready

Many remote jobs have specific requirements for your workspace. If you don’t have this ready to go before you get an interview, you’re at a disadvantage.

If the jobs you’re applying for require the use of a wired telephone or internet service, wireless isn’t going to do. Set up in advance, or you may find that you miss out on jobs because you can’t get things installed in time.

Similarly, you don’t want to have to buy a lot of equipment. Some employers will provide the basic equipment you need, but many will expect you to provide your own.

At the very least, you will need a sufficiently current computer of the right kind. Some employers require that you have a Windows computer, not Apple OS. Your operating system should be reasonably up to date as well, and don’t forget current antimalware software!

Don’t forget to set up a comfortable home office. Not everyone can have a dedicated home office space, but do the best you can. Some employers will be very interested in how your office is set up so that they know it meets their standards.

This is especially important if you’re dealing with things that require privacy. Medical transcriptionists and medical coders, for example, have to follow HIPAA. If your home office isn’t sufficiently private, you could get into trouble.

Consider Freelancing

Even if you’re really after a steady work at home job with benefits, sometimes taking on freelance work will be the answer you need. Freelancing has a lot of advantages.

The first advantage is that you can usually get higher pay. Don’t underestimate what you should earn from a freelance gig. Remember that you will have to pay higher taxes on freelance income, as they are not withheld by your employer.

Flexibility is the next advantage. Freelance jobs are usually quite flexible, although they can also be highly demanding if they want a lot of work with a quick deadline.

And of course, freelancing gives you more experience. This is great if you keep hearing from potential employers that you don’t have enough experience. Freelance for a time and get that experience.

Sometime a freelance gig will turn into a regular job. Some employers use freelancers essentially as a long job interview to decide if you’re who they want to hire. This is why you cannot dismiss a freelance gig offhand. It might take you exactly where you want to go.

Keep Trying

Will all this guarantee you the job? Dream on! It’s still a matter of how good you look versus everyone else trying for the job. But if you put your best face forward you certainly can improve your odds.

Landing a work at home job takes time. It can take months to land even an outside the home job, so why expect things to be any different when you want to work at home?

Give it time and improve your odds of success.

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 September 21st, 2018

The Mom Of A Toddler Home Workout

The Mom Of A Toddler Home Workout

There’s one very common goal for moms with toddlers in the house – finding time to exercise. That toddler might just be the key to getting your workout done. Who needs a gym membership with a toddler around? All you have to do is the mom of a toddler home workout.

Of course, my kids aren’t toddlers anymore. Teens don’t need to be chased nearly as much, although it can be fun. I still enjoy looking back on those days when my kids were so little.

take a walk

1. The Toddler Chase

Take toddler outside. Let him or her get a few steps ahead, then try to catch up.

This works particularly well with really adventurous toddlers. My youngest would gladly get 2-3 houses away from me, in the middle of the street, if I let her.

If your toddler isn’t a runner, you can at least get a nice walk. Most toddler love getting out and about.

2. Sit-ups

Go ahead. Try to do a sit-up with a toddler around. You’ll probably get a toddler on your tummy. Too bad sit-ups don’t work too well that way.

But you can change up the exercise. Stay in the sit-up position, get that toddler on your shins and start lifting your legs. You will get a workout. Toddlers make great weights.

3. What’s In His/Her Mouth

Be preoccupied for roughly 0.05 seconds. Realize toddler has put something in his or her mouth and is gagging on it. Remove it from toddlers tightly closed mouth. Repeat as often as your toddler finds something interesting to put into his or her mouth.

The Kitchen Cabinet Clear Out

4. The Kitchen Cabinet Clear Out

Let toddler into your kitchen. Let him or her clear out the plastic container cabinet and any other cabinet that they can safely play in.

Put everything back as toddler clears out each cabinet over again when you walk off. Repeat.

Be ready for a headache if your toddler discovers how much fun it is to bang metal pots and pans with other things. This can interrupt your workout or make it more urgent.

And pray they never discover where you keep the flour. Cleaning that up may be more of a workout than any mom of a toddler wants.

Computer Keyboard Rescue

5. Computer Keyboard Rescue

Realize toddler has started pounding on your keyboard, starting random programs and doing things you didn’t realize were possible with just the keyboard.

Whisk toddler away. Spin toddler around in your arms to stop the tears.

To increase the challenge, note that the toddler has a juice box in their hand.

6. Crayon On The Walls Scrub

Leave just one crayon in reach. When you’re expecting company, discover that toddler has drawn all over the walls with the crayon. Start scrubbing, hoping that this was one of the washable crayons, not the regular sort.

Check to see if toddler also chewed the crayon up. You might be scrubbing the carpet too.

Then start wondering if you’ve left any Sharpies in reach. Things could be worse. Especially if they combine marker with the couch.

This exercise may also be done with paints, food or anything else your child can smear on the walls.

If you need a lazy day, you can always do what these parents did.

Toddler Catch

7. Toddler Catch

Discover just barely in time that your toddler can climb the furniture or stairs… sort of. Catch toddler before he or she hits the ground and really starts screaming. Repeat anywhere from daily to several times an hour until toddler gets bored with climbing, gets good at it or is finally ready for a nap.

You wish baby gates would always help with keeping your toddler off the stairs, but there comes that day when a gate is not enough to stop your little climber.

8. Liquid Soap Slip-Up

Find out that toddler has used new climbing skills to reach the liquid soap dispenser and has now fingerpainted the entire bathroom floor, walls, cabinet, and counter. Please note that this exercise is best not done in the middle of the night. Especially if you discover it by accident.

9. Pick Me Up!

Toddler wants to be picked up now! No, down! No, up!

Bonus points if your toddler starts arching his or her back to get away or starts squirming to look at something. Some days it won’t matter whether you’ve picked your child up or put them down, it’s the wrong answer. But the more sore your back is, the more likely it is that they’ll want up.

The Suddenly Open Door

10. The Suddenly Open Door

Your toddler discovers how to open the front door all by themselves. How fast do you run when you realize your little one has gotten out alone? This is related to The Toddler Chase, but may be more urgent, depending on how quickly you discover the open door.

11. The Toilet Plunge

Work your arms as you try to figure out just what your toddler put down the toilet. Will the plunger clear it, or are you looking at a bill from the plumber?

Pray that this is not related to the next exercise.

The Missing Keys Scramble

12. The Missing Keys Scramble

You have somewhere to be, but your keys are missing. Your toddler was playing with them earlier. Where are they now? Where???

May also be played with your cell phone.

13. The LEGO Hop

One of the most painful exercises. Discover the hard way that your toddler has left their LEGO Duplo blocks on the floor. Try to find your way out of the block minefield without hurting your feet too much. This exercise will be repeated more painfully with regular LEGO blocks as your child gets older.

As your toddler keeps you running, just remember that these times go by really fast. Don’t think of all the trouble as trouble. See it as one more way you’re being active.

Don’t worry. My kids didn’t pull all of these on me when they were little. But they made enough mischief to keep me moving back then.

14. The Naptime Thump

Your toddler should be asleep, but what was that thump in their room. Did he or she learn how to get out of the crib? It’s hard to say which will get you moving faster after the thump – silence or a loud cry.

What would you add to the mom of a toddler home workout? Are there any special tricks your kids pulled?

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 September 20th, 2018

What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room

What To Do When Your Home Office Is The Guest Room

It’s wonderful when you can spare a room for your home office, but it might have a secondary function a few times a year. It’s a guest room as well. Your private workspace becomes a place for your guests to sleep. You’re out of your perfectly set up workspace. What can you do when your home office is the guest room?

There are a lot of things you can do when your home office is the guest room to ensure that the space is comfortable for both uses. Some relate to how you use the space when guests are there, while others are all about the setup of the room in general. Make sure your home office setup allows you to be productive and comfortable.

Consider what will happen to your home office when guests are there. Are you moving out or sharing the space? This will help you figure out how best to set up and organize your home office.

Have Guest-Friendly Furniture

You want your guests to feel comfortable when they stay with you, and that means putting some thought into your guest furniture. How do you combine that with the needs of your home office?

You have a few options.

I chose to put a queen size futon in my home office. This way we have both seating and a bed as needed for guests. It doesn’t take a lot of space and is comfortable enough. I’ve slept there when my husband has been sick enough that I wanted to avoid the germs. I store bedding beneath it.

A daybed is another alternative. The disadvantage is that it’s more narrow, which may be uncomfortable for most adults, and won’t work at all for couples.

A Murphy bed is a more expensive option but puts the bed even more out of the way. That can be a huge advantage. The disadvantage is that you have to remember how much space it takes when setting up all the rest of the furniture unless you want to move things around every time the bed is used.

home office brown

Keep Your Home Office Organized

You don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning before company arrives when your home office is the guest room. This makes keeping your home office organized very important.

Let’s start with the paper shredder. Have an easy way to get rid of that paper clutter before it gets bad. You know it will. An easily accessible shredder improves the chances that you will stay ahead of the mess.

Figure out what kind of organization system will work for you. My home office has a lot of built-in drawers and cabinets, and I take advantage of those quite extensively. If you don’t have this kind of advantage, there are a lot of organization supplies you can buy which will help you keep the clutter under control.

Try to keep your cables organized where possible. Securing them to the underside or back of your desk will give your home office a cleaner look when guests are over. It also keeps them out of your way.

Your organization supplies can be used to give your home office character as well. A cork board can be used to keep up important reminders and to display family photos or artwork.

A rolling cart to hold your supplies can be a big help if you want to get a lot of your office supplies out of the room when guests are over. The more mobile your supplies are, the less effort it will take to move them when company comes over.

You may also want a rolling desk for when your home office is the guest room. This can be the most effective way to move your computer set up with the least fuss.

Whatever you do, make sure your home office is comfortable for you. That’s the first purpose of the room, after all. If it doesn’t work for you, figure out how to make things better.

Consider Taking Time Off When Guests Arrive

When you have company, it may already be your plan to take the time off or at least work fewer hours. If your work is flexible enough and you can afford the financial hit or have paid vacation time, this may be your choice.

Taking time off won’t work for everyone. No one expects to always have the day off when company comes over when you work outside the home, so don’t assume you have to do so when you work at home. It’s nice when you can afford it and it fits into your work schedule, but it’s not always possible.

home office white

Explain To Guests That You Will Need The Room During Work Hours

Sometimes you may need to keep using your home office as an office even when you have company. This is something you should discuss with guests before they arrive so that they understand that you will need to use their room during the day.

Obviously, you cannot use your home office while your guests are sleeping. This won’t work if you work at night.

But if your work hours are during the day, you may be able to continue working as usual. Explain to your guests that they need to treat you as though you are away at work even though you’re just a room away. It’s what you’d have to do if you had a job outside the home, after all.

Show them the space that you will need to have left alone so that you can work. You don’t want their luggage on your desk or office chair, for example, when you want to start working. Point out things that should not be disturbed.

It may help to have a dresser or other furniture in your home office that is specifically for guests to use. Some space in the closet may help as well. Guests are more likely to respect your space if they have a spot that is clearly for their use.

Set Up A Temporary Office Elsewhere

If your work setup is something you can move, you can work in a different space. This will probably be one of those less than ideal places such as your bedroom. This may be your only choice if you need to work night hours or otherwise cannot use your office space due to your guests.

Just as with your regular home office, do your best to make it a distraction-free environment. The kitchen table isn’t ideal for this reason. You don’t want to be in the middle of everything that’s happening in your home while you have company; you want to be a little away from it so you can be productive.

A rolling desk can be a huge help if you have to move your home office space around. Not only can it be put into a corner of your office when more space is needed, but you can also move it into another room with relative ease.

home office blue

Be Ready For Challenges

Whatever your solution may be, discuss it with your guests before they arrive so that they’re prepared to deal with the reality of you working at home. Many people have trouble understanding that working at home is just like working any other job. Make sure they know that they need to let you work.

If guests need a lot of reminders, try to have another family member help keep them away as you work. You do not want to get in trouble with your job if you can’t keep a quiet work environment due to guests. If that’s a need, be very clear about why you need quiet and why there are no exceptions, not even to tell you they’re headed out to do something for the day.

Of course, if you can be interrupted, tell them that too, and tell them how much or when. Let them know if too many interruptions will lengthen your work day or give you other problems.

Hopefully, you will have enough time off work that you can enjoy your guests. Make sure your needs and their expectations are discussed in advance so that you don’t have a lot of problems when your guests are in your home.

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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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.