How to Fix 4 Major WAHM Challenges with ONE Simple Trick | I love my business, and I love doing the work that I do. But I know I can’t truly be happy if my doing it is causing stress or unhappiness in my home on some level. I’m guessing you feel the same way about your business and family. If you’re anything like me, you decided to work from home so you could spend more time with your family! And not in a ‘leave me alone for a bit longer so I can get some work done’ kind of way! If you can relate, I’d love to share this story with you about how I found a simple 15-minute ‘trick’ to create more balance and harmony in this often chaotic WAHM life.
So I was sitting here on my couch, listening to the music of the windchimes as they danced in the breeze outside. I sipped my coffee as I snuggled into my personal growth time for the day and read this article, Six Ways to Show Your Love, on Elephant Journal. It’s funny sometimes, when an article draws you in with one subject and you find surprising inspiration or a solution from its words. (By the way, the article is packed with great ideas! I highly recommend reading it. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you come away with your own unexpected ‘a-ha!’ moment.)
Anyway, these were the words that stood out to me and then became a virtual fireworks display of ‘lightbulb moments,’ each triggering another. Along with her insights on generosity and patience, the author writes, “Sometimes it helps to take ten minutes to calm down when you come home from work, just enough to transition and let the day go.”
Now, I have been a work-at-home-mom for the past 9 years. Obviously, my first thought on reading this was ‘yah, ok – doesn’t apply to me.’ I reflected on how I’ve often envied my husband’s ‘drive time’ home. He sees it as a stressor – stuck in traffic, losing out on after-work relax time. I’ve always looked at it as a buffer period. He gets to listen to whatever kind of music he wants (with no little voices protesting!) and has alone time to decompress and transition from work to home. I don’t get to ‘leave my work at the door’ – for the past 4 years, I haven’t even had a physically separate workspace in my home. My desk is tucked into a corner of the living room – the activity center of the house!
Throughout my time as a WAHM, I have struggled with overwhelm that comes from feeling like every aspect of my life is melded into a clustered mass. There have been so many days when I’ve let myself fall into an unconscious habit of doing ‘just one more thing’ for work. Just one easily becomes 4 or 5, until it’s time to get my kiddos ready for dinner or bed, and I’m sitting here wondering what happened to the afternoon! My husband has complained to me, on more than one occasion, about how frustrated he gets when I continue to sit in front of my computer after he and the kids get home. It’s hard for him to understand that much of my ‘work’ time has also been interrupted by mealtimes, getting our kids ready and off to school, household duties, errands, unexpected events, and responsibilities at my children’s schools. (I’ll be totally honest here, there’s been too much general distraction from checking Facebook and e-mail during this time also, and this time-wasting is next on my fix-it list!)
On the hardest days, it feels like I have been going all day, between work and home, but it’s one big blur and I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. I still have so much work left to do, but I also haven’t been completely present with my family during most of that time. On those days, after tucking my kids in and kissing them goodnight, I fall into bed with a tear-streaked face, feeling icky and scrambled and very much like a failure and a horrible mom and wife. I hate feeling that way.
Could There Be a Solution?
So as I read this article and remembered how awful those hard days feel, that word, ‘transition,’ sparked an idea for me. Why can’t I have a transition period? Why can’t I CREATE my own transition period?! It doesn’t have to be a commute or ‘leaving my work at the door’ in the physical sense, as I’ve always envisioned. In the past, I’d tried incorporating different kinds of schedules and checklists to help me separate ‘work’ and ‘home’ time, basically by just designating a deadline to leave my desk at a certain time and stay away until the next day. This never worked, and I suppose at some point I sort of gave up on trying to find a solution because I thought, ‘well, this is just how it is when you work from home.’
Formulating a Plan
It suddenly occurred to me that I needed to put a space between my work time and home time. It couldn’t be physical space, obviously, but I could easily switch my schedule a little. Instead of trying to cram so many things into my morning routine before my family wakes up (which I’ve also been struggling with, trying to fit workout, meditation, affirmations, and reading a personal development book all into that early morning time), I could push my 15-minute meditation time to the afternoon. THIS could be my transition period between my work day and my family time. I could finally have some clearly defined separation between these aspects.
Although I was excited, I had to be realistic and try to envision how I would manage it. Would my kids allow me that time of quiet to myself, uninterrupted? I recalled how often my children also seem to feel overwhelmed and grumpy on coming home from school. As I remembered this and thought about how to get that quiet time to myself with my kids at home and awake, I had my next ‘lightbulb moment.’ It occurred to me they might need a similar transition time too – just a few minutes of quiet space to decompress from being surrounded by learning, stimuli, and the energy of so many people around them all day.
I realized I have several challenges as a WAHM that I could fix with this one simple 15-minute shift. If you struggle with any of these, please know you are not alone!:
~husband unhappy about how much I work after he & the kids get home
~feeling overwhelmed with trying to find balance between work/home/family
~failing to accomplish having ‘me’ time for quiet relaxation
~feeling guilty for wanting quiet ‘me’ time while also feeling guilty for being unbalanced and making my family unhappy
I decided to try it for the first time today, and I’m so happy with how it went. I felt like I gave myself space for me and felt an immediate sense of renewed energy for the rest of the afternoon and evening! I never got back on to work until after my kids went to bed. Obviously, there need to be evenings where I don’t get back on to work later, so that my husband and I can still have that time together. But today, I felt a solid sense of time limit to my working hours which helped me stay on-track during that time. I felt less distracted. Once I have continued this pattern for a few days, I know that I will have less work left to do in the evenings.
Of course, with any shift to our normal routines, there will be some resistance. I will need to be consistent with this for at least a couple of weeks to really set my new habit in a solid foundation. One strategy I plan to use to stay disciplined with this until it is habit, is to set an alarm on my smart phone. This is a great way to make sure I won’t forget and slip back into my old ways. I am challenging myself to stick with this for as long as it serves us, and I will keep you posted on how it goes!
I encourage you to try something similar. Here are the steps I made to shift my schedule.
Step 1: End my workday 30 minutes before my son gets home from school.
Take that half hour to organize my desk for ‘end-of-the-work-day,’ list my tasks for the next day, and prepare a healthy afternoon snack for me & my kiddos
Step 2: Begin the 15-minute ‘transition period’ when he gets home.
This means having all of us go to our own separate, calming spaces. For my kids, it can be a time of quiet play or reading. For me, it will mean plugging my meditation time in here to recenter. This will be my time to focus on me, while also refocusing my energy from ‘work’ time to ‘home/family’ time. (Eventually, I’d like to work toward family meditation time, but I feel like I need to get a good handle on it for myself before trying to teach my kids!)
You might have different components of your schedule to work with, but see where you have a 10-15 minute task you do each day that can maybe be shifted to be your transition period between work time and family time. Commit to sticking with it for at least a week to see if it makes a positive difference!
Please comment below and let us know if you have a transition period already in place that’s working for you and what it looks like. If you don’t have one yet, but want to try it, let us know what you plan to do to create one!