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But let’s be honest – can you work from home AND have work life balance?
First, let’s define balance. Miriam-Webster gives this definition: “to keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.”
… so that it does not fall …
My friend, I am guessing you work from home with the goal that you can be with your family more and keep your finger on the pulse of their lives…for the freedom to attend games, chaperone field trips, and bake cookies for parties. The last thing in the world you want to do is watch your family fall.
Attaining Work Life Balance as a Work at Home Mom
I have been a work from home mom for 8 years and spent the first 6 1/2 years totally out of balance. It was hard. But I honestly didn’t believe there was another way.
Instead of spending evenings with my family, I stared at my screen.
Instead of watching my daughter practice ballet, I hosted meetings from the car.
Instead of relaxing during vacation, I worked while the family was entertained.
Instead of putting my phone down during meals, I kept it beside me.
Instead of cleaning my house, I strategized the next FB campaign.
Instead of spending quality time with visitors, I multi-tasked — talking to them while Voxing intermittently.
Instead of looking my children in the eye and listening, I told them to wait until Daddy got home and ask him.
Instead of exploring and playing outside with my kids, I turned the TV on for them while I checked email.
Instead of helping my husband with the garden which I love doing, I let him do it while I sent out schedules.
Instead of going to church, I made graphics in Canva.
Instead of following through on plans with friends, I flaked and worked.
Instead of taking care of my health, I ate fast food, gained 75 lbs, and watched my blood pressure rise to scary numbers.
My work became my identity.
I recently read a quote in a book that cut deep. It said “If your work is your self, when you cease to work you cease to exist.”
Can you resonate with any of this?
… So that it does not fall …
Let’s talk about what happens when things are out of balance.
When you get new tires, they mount and balance them. That means they spin the tire as fast as it would be turning when on the road and making sure that there are no heavy spots that will make the tire shake while you are driving down the road. They add weights on the tire in the proper places to make sure your tires run smoothly down the road.
If you drive with your tires out of balance, it causes uneven wear on your tires and unnecessary wear on your car. When your life is out of balance, it wears not only on your own body (stress, etc) but also on the people in your life who have to pick up the slack. It causes wear, and damage, that sometimes cannot be fixed.
Or consider the waitress balancing a whole tray full of glasses walking to your table. If she is perfectly balanced, she gets a whole lot of work done in one trip and everyone is pleased. If she is unbalanced she will fall — and create a disaster.
As a work-from-home mom, I spent years believing that work-life balance was impossible for someone in my position. I mean, the fact that I was available at all hours was a major selling point for my work. My “office” was never closed.
So I spent wasted years believing the lie that I needed to just be grateful to have work and never be unavailable. In the meantime, my older kids grew up and graduated, my parents moved out of state, my husband handled most of the house and farm responsibilities, and the friends that stuck around knew better than to depend on me for anything. Heck, I worked for a couple of hours the morning of my daughter’s wedding because “they needed me” — As if!
My friend, if you are where I was, please know, there is hope! There is a better way!
Let me share what worked for me.
1. I set boundaries
I had to create some boundaries. I started small. First, I started creating some truly “off” time. I started with 30 minutes daily. I would mark my calendar as busy and gently remind everyone that I was unavailable for 30 minutes or so and I protected that time fiercely. I pretended it was the 80’s again and there was no technology in my home. Phone was off and in another room, computer was closed, TV was off, It was HARD but it was GLORIOUS! Honestly, it took several months just to get just this part down. Once I had 30 minutes perfected, I planned a second 30 minute “break”. Then I took one whole weekend day.
2. I prayed for direction
Which gave me the courage for the next step.
3. I let things go
Not everyone accepted my boundaries. I tried for several months to make it work with one particular client but ultimately, I had to realize that things were not going to change. Gratefully, I was able to find another option and moved on.… So that it does not fall …
4. Set work hours and keep them
Girl, you gotta keep the hours. With my current clients, they have been awesome with my time. If someone has an emergency, I am happy to help even on my off time because it’s rare. But that came from holding my boundaries firm.
5. I stopped and looked around
Really looked — with eyes to see. I looked at my neglected house, the faces of my family, my neglected flower bed, all of the things. I could have looked with guilt and chosen to stay in my work instead of facing the reality that I was needed elsewhere. But I didn’t.
6. I started a hobby
I know. It makes no sense – the last thing you need is MORE to do. Hear me out. We needed to find something productive to do as a family that was not work related. We needed a “thing” where we could connect and loosen up. We started hiking as a family. When I hike, my phone is on airplane mode and is only used for pix. That right there has been life-changing.
7. (The hardest part…) I took all social media off of my phone
And I had a timer on my computer that I used so I knew exactly how much time I spent on Facebook. Look, I love social media, especially as a stay at home mom. I need an outlet. Interaction. But literally hours in a day can pass while scrolling Facebook. Sister, you just have to keep it in check – not get rid of it completely.
Listing these steps here makes it sound so easy. Truthfully, it took me a little over a year just to adjust. Things still get out of whack at times. Just this past week, as I was writing this article, I realized there were areas (ahem …. Facebook again ….) where my life was getting pretty punky.
And can I tell you a secret? It’s better for everyone this way! My husband is happier, my kids, my clients, my friends, and mostly ME! You read that right, even my clients are happier and I am serving them better than ever before in less time. OH! And I’ve lost 60 pounds and no longer take blood pressure meds.
I never ever ever want to be back in that place again. Of course, we all have moments where our life gets a bit out of whack. I mean, when you’re on vacation you’re not supposed to work at all, right? That is when unbalance is good. We have a farm. There is a lot of work to do in the spring and it gets really busy. Our lives are a bit out of balance at that point. But that is okay because it’s temporary. And we get back to real life once we are past that time.
But please, do not give up. Because the rewards are so worth it.
… So that it does not fall …
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Tandy Hogate is a work from home wife, mom of four, and grandma to two. She lives on a farm in Alaska with her family and critters (her favorite critter being her rather large dog Fezzik). She enjoys traveling, writing, studying the bible, reading, hiking, working on the farm, sewing, and spending just as much time as possible with her family. Her favorite place is the river and her favorite sound is laughter.