By Cindy Thomas
Being organized can sometimes be a challenge when you’re a mom working from home. For some, organizing comes naturally and your work and family life are balanced. But for a lot of work at home moms, especially those just getting started working from home, they need to be more organized but don’t know where to start.
These WAHM organizing tips will help your work at home business and family life run more effectively and smoother.
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1. The number one thing to remember when getting started working at home is to not take on more than you can handle.
When getting started, you might easily find yourself overwhelmed. Remember foremost that you have kids, a husband, a family…not to mention a household still to run. Be realistic when taking on work or clients and the hours you can devote to a project. Don’t promise more than you can deliver. Keep yourself more organized by not taking on more than you can do. Take on more as you go and are more organized with a set routine.
2. Have a Planner or Calendar: Your planner can be anything you use to plan your day – a calendar, a plain notebook, an onine calendar, a desktop calendar, a day planner, a printable planner, etc. Anything that you can write on works. If your work at home business has you traveling or driving, you might want a portable day planner that you can carry with you or use your iPad’s calendar.
Using whatever method of planner you choose, write down what you need to do each each day that pertains to your work at home business. Depending on what your business is, allow enough time for writing, crafting, blogging, designing, etc. If you have young children that will be at home during the day and not at school for a few hours, you will probably want to set times for some things early in the morning, while they nap, and/or late at night. Anything that needs more concentration should be set at these times.
Next, jot down everything about the home and family that you need to accomplish for each day. This means everything – laundry, meals, schooling, personal time, kid time, husband time, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. Prioritize household tasks by what needs done and what the kids and husband can help with. Assign chores by age of the children. Kids can pick up after themselves, put clothes into the washer and dryer, etc. Getting into a household routine when working from home helps organize your day, keeps the household running smoother, and most of all lets you know that you’ve made time for the family along with everything that needs to do done each day.
Use your planner also to map out the week or month ahead in terms of what you plan to do in regards to your work at home business. Plan topics for blog posts, ideas for books to write or coloring books to design, T-shirt designs to make, etc. When you think of something, write it down. Don’t assume you’ll remember it later!
It’s important to remember that working for yourself means you don’t have a timeclock to punch and no one is there telling you when to start working and when to stop working. Do what’s best for you and your family. What works for one will not work for another. You know your family, your business, your needs. Plan accordingly.
The planner is your friend. Use it and make your life more organized and easier.
3. Set Your Work Hours: When it comes to the hours that you’ll work, do what works for you and your family. This might mean working a couple of hours early in the morning or late at night. You don’t have to keep traditional business hours when you’re working for yourself, although ideally that would be the best thing to do. Never sacrifice your family for the sake of a work at home job. Work hours that allow you to not only be a work at home mom, but to also BE a mom and wife. When you’re working, unless there’s an emergency, make sure your family and friends understand that your work hours are just that, your work hours. Working at home doesn’t mean you can drop everything to run around town or yap on the phone or go out with friends. Allow yourself some free time for doing all the other stuff. Work time is work time.
4. Quick, Easy, Healthy Meals: When you work at home, one of things you might find yourself doing to save time and effort is throwing together something fast to call a meal. While this approach might work for a while and for a few meals, it will get old fast – to you and to the ones eating (or not eating) whatever concoction you might create.
If we only ate junk and never cooked, it would save us a load of time. But eating junk and never cooking gets old and fast. And on the flip side, spending way too much time in the kitchen takes away not only from your family time but also your work at home business time. Fortunately, there are ways to cut corners on meal preparation without sacrificing health and taste.
First, if you don’t have a slowcooker (Crock Pot is a brand of slowcooker), get one. If your family is small, get a small one. If your family is large, get a large one. A Crock Pot is great for making meals when you work at home simply because you can fill it, turn it on, and pretty much forget about it for generally 6 to 8 hours (depending on what you’re cooking, of course). There are so many Crock Pot recipes that you can use it every day and have a different meal. Crock Pot meals are easy in the sense that you throw ingredients in, turn it on, and forget about it until it’s done hours later.
If you have a couple of hours or so a month to spare, you can fix up freezer meals ahead of time. You can take large zipper bags and put in all the ingredients for Crock Pot meals. You can use a rice cooker and cook up a couple of pots of rice, place individual servings into zipper bags (when cooled) or plastic freezer bowls. You can make up mini muffin meatloaves using a muffin pan, bake them, let them cool, and freeze them in individual freezer bowls. You can pre-cut veggies for soups and stews, freeze them in zipper bags ready to use. You can cook up pasta, drain, cool, and freeze for later. Anything like this that you can do ahead and freeze, then thraw and/or use when needed, will save you time in the kitchen later.
Meals don’t have to be fancy to be healthy and something good to eat. Veggies are super good and easy to make when put into a steamer. Turkey can be baked while you work… sliced turkey is really good with fresh steamed veggies over rice.
Depending on the age of the kids, give everyone a day of of the week and a supper meal they are responsible for preparing or helping to prepare. Have everyone clear the table when done eating and let the kids take turns washing the dishes or loading the dishwasher. There’s no reason kids (when big enough to reach the kitchen faucet, cannot help clean up the dishes.
Planning the main meal of the day ahead of time is always a good idea. Planning ahead of a week of meals, if not a month, is a better idea. Whether it’s something made in the slowcooker, a made ahead freezer meal, a big salad, or grilled cheese with sliced tomatoes, having an idea of what will be the evening meal saves a lot of time and effort.
5. Delegate Household Tasks: Everyone can do something to help keep the house clean and organized. Since everyone lives in the house, everyone should do their part to keep it up. Kids can put laundry in and out of the washer and dryer. Kids can prepare simple meals or snacks. Kids can feed and water the pets. Kids can take out the trash. Kids can clean their bedrooms and bathrooms. Make sure they know what’s expected and when it’s expected. Husbands can help out also. Yes, they go to work and come home. That doesn’t mean they can’t help out around the house too. After all, you’re working also. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you don’t work. It just means you work at home. 🙂