The idea of being a work at home mum can seem like the perfect work-life balance to many women. You can work when you want and stay at home with your children. But when your demand increases or your workload starts to pile up on top of you, your stress levels can begin to rise.
This can cause you to lose focus on your work, shifting that focus to the overwhelm itself. With so much going on in our lives today, such as a new addition to the family, household obligations, clients and customers, we can mentally feel exhausted. When we learn to focus on one thing at a time, everything else falls into place and become manageable.
To help you navigate, and maintain a better work life balance, I’ve come up with some practical ways to prevent overwhelm as a WAHM.
Firstly: Remind yourself that you can’t do it all, all the time. That reminder helped me a lot. I needed to stop beating myself up for not having everything together. We’re not Super Women.
Use a schedule
Having a routine schedule for all responsibilities helps you know exactly what you’re working on and prevents you from having everything that needs to be completed on your mind all day long. It also allows you to see how full your weekly workload is filling up, so you don’t overcommit yourself.
Schedule your time. Put the biggest items in first, then add in the smaller ones.
Be wary of time vampires such as social media, emails, TV or unannounced visitors.
I’d also recommend an auto app scheduler for your social media such as Later. I will generally use Sunday nights to schedule my whole weeks’ worth of content, so I am not caught up in, or get distracted by it during the week. Then it’s done and out of my mind until the following week.
TIP: Use nap times, day-care time, nanny time, or grandparent time to get work done.
Use a planner
Plan your week ahead of time. Prioritise your list so you get the most important tasks done first. Be sure to create a list that you can finish, given your schedule, or else you will be overwhelmed on a daily basis. I had to start using a planner to stay organised each week by recording all my projects and their due dates, then force myself to stick to it, and tick things off as I completed them.
Outsource some of your tasks
Don’t be afraid to DELEGATE tasks because, the reality is, no one can physically or emotionally “do it all”.
It’s not uncommon for WAHMs to hire a virtual assistant or periodically outsource some work they need to get done. A VA is there to complete the mundane tasks, including replying to emails, updating your CV, managing your social media, or editing/proofreading your work.
Even if you don’t have someone hired on a regular basis, there are lots of freelancers that would be happy to take one-time projects off your hands so you can focus on more important duties – and not overwhelm yourself with so much work!
TIP: Do, Delegate, Dump. You can do one of the three things to each task. Focus on doing only what you can do. Delegate the things that can be bartered or hired out. Dump anything that is not serving you, your business, or your relationship.
Prepare meals in advance.
Dinner: Having to think of what’s for dinner after a demanding day of work can be the tipping point for some Mums, especially when your children walk through the door screeching “Mum what’s for dinner?” So, take a couple of hours on the weekend to plan meals or precook some in advance and freeze them for those more hectic days.
Another option is to investigate a meal delivery service such as Bargain Box or My Food Bag. Both of these I have personally used and they made my life so much easier. It was just one less thing I had to think about and organise.
More so during the colder months, I’ll get meat out of the freezer in the morning and throw it into a crockpot. Its a great way to pre-make food with not a lot of effort, and with so many recipes on Pinterest, these meals don’t have to be tasteless or boring. Many times, when I do a crockpot meal, there is plenty left for lunches the next day too!
Lunch: Each week I’ll choose one thing to eat for lunch each day. A good go to for me is an omelette: I can through whatever is in the fridge as a filler. The less time I spend making my lunch, the more rest I get in the middle of the day to recharge my batteries.
Stay on top of housekeeping
It can be easy to feel pressure to clean the house, put away the dishes, and do laundry when you work from home. But these are tasks you wouldn’t be doing if you were working out of your home. Housekeeping and laundry used to be a huge energy-suck for me, so I can attest to how great it is to have someone clean the house – even if it’s once a month. My sister will come and clean my house once a week for me, and then I’ll do dishes and spot clean during the week, but I don’t kill myself to do it. Be easy on yourself: your house doesn’t need to look like full page spread in the New Zealand House and Garden Magazine.
Tip: Do just one house chore every day of the week so it’s not overwhelming, and schedule it in as a “job” so you can cross it off your list.
Just say no!
Many clients or customers don’t mean to consume your time. They could just be innocently seeking your advice, opinion or suggestion. If you’re anything like me, (a major people pleaser), it can be difficult to say “no”.
So, remind yourself of your priorities, and that you do have the ability to say “no” to something, because when you say yes to something for work, you’re saying no to other things in your life.
Perhaps you could tell your client that you are facing a time constraint and once you have completed your task, you will be more than happy to help them (if your time permits).
Your number one priority is your child: they are your number one client/customer. While this goes without saying, sometimes work offers more validation, ignites more passion and creativity, or simply helps bring in much needed money to pay the bills. There will always be time for more work in the future. Your children’s time, however, is too precious and too short. So, snuggle more, laugh longer and soak up each and every precious moment with them while they’re still little.
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