By Lane Jordan Burday, Crosswalk.com
I started working from home about fifteen years ago when I quit my job and started writing full-time. I thought it would be so easy!
But it’s ridiculously hard to keep oneself disciplined every day. Especially if you have children at home. How do we do it?!
Now, more and more people are opting to work from home, and I’d like to offer some tips that have helped me.
I think the first thing we should do is to start thinking the right way. What I mean is, how you think about something usually translates into how you act. As the Bible says, “As a man thinks, so is he,” we can turn any situation around if we look at all the positives.
For me, I love not having to commute to work in traffic. I have more time in the morning to have a quiet time, make breakfast, and perhaps do a few chores before my workday begins. I like having my own kitchen close by for lunch--I don’t have to pack a lunch anymore! I like being able to get up from my desk and look out at the backyard or go for a walk.
Twenty minutes of a quick walk can do wonders for one’s mindset and breathing in fresh air is a game-changer.
I also like not having to spend money on clothes I don’t need as much now. I can be with my dog and can take personal calls. If a neighbor needs me, I am here to help.
But I’m sure you are asking: “But how do you do all that along with taking care of young children and getting work done?” And I get it! Juggling work, caring for our kids, and all the schoolwork, screen time, meal prep, house cleaning, grocery shopping, can be a nightmare.
So, the number one point in working from home and keeping up with everything is to make yourself a schedule.
1. Make a Schedule
This is vital. If there is a place on the schedule for each item that needs to be done, trust me it will get done. In essence, you are making goals for each day right down to each hour.
2. Each Person Helps
Each person needs to pull their weight, even a toddler! Put a specific time on your calendar for when each person needs to be dressed, bed made, and ready for breakfast.
You don’t want beds made or a family breakfast time? Then you will be starting the day in a mess. Trust me. Soldiers who are training for combat first must get the main essentials done: bed made, shoes shines, clothes on, and ready for inspection. For the little ones, put their clothes out the night before just as if they are going to school. Homeschool parents have learned how well this works.
3. Schedule a Time for Chores
Even if we are working, chores must be accomplished. So, schedule a time slot for these. One idea? Do my 10 Minutes or Less Pick Up after breakfast. This means you go through all the sleeping areas of the house and get dirty laundry, trash, etc. and then you can start the wash.
Your children should have chores themselves: maybe each one has a different meal to prepare and clean up; or help with dusting and vacuuming; help with any animals in the home; help folding the wash; sweeping the patio.
4. Schedule a Time for Cooking/Eating
Unfortunately, we have to eat every day. And for me, it’s hard to plan the meals, buy the groceries and then cook. So, by making a weekly schedule of meals and a specific day to shop has been a huge help. And now, grocery shopping can be delivered! That’s a great help for you busy moms.
Also, planning the same meal or type of meal for a specific day can ease your week. I like to cook a large meal on Monday nights and eat leftovers another day. Thursday nights are usually Italian or Mexican: spaghetti, lasagna, or tacos. Friday nights, when the children lived at home, were pizza and salad nights. And Saturdays are a great day to cookout.
5. Schedule a Time for Schoolwork/Life Skills
Even if your children go off to school, I feel that parents still need to be active in what they are learning. Yes, they have to do the work. But sometimes parents can add that extra dimension of learning. Call out spelling words when a test is coming up. Help your child research for an article.
And for those parents whose children are learning from home, make sure you have time on your schedule for when they will be studying. Don’t let them slack off.
And teaching them life skills, for me, is a necessary thing! I believe that by the time a child leaves the house at 18, they should be able to cook, clean, do laundry, balance a checkbook, sew on a button, know when to get the oil changed and tires checked, shop economically, and keep out of debt.
Yes, it’s hard to find the time to teach these skills, but we can always turn off the TV and electronics at night.
6. Schedule a Time for Your Work
Children need to know that this time is vital! Put up a sign that says, “No Interrupting.” They can view the schedule and see how long you need. While you are working, the children have their schoolwork – or playtime – or anything else you have for them on the schedule.
7. Schedule a Time for Breaks
My husband eats lunch outside on the patio every day. He loves this time where he can feel the sun on his face! Everyone needs a break. Work about two hours and then take a break. We don’t need to sit at the computer any longer than that. Stretch and walk around. Do a chore like throwing in another load of wash or putting the potatoes in the oven. Or spend some time with a child with a quick walk or reading them a book.
8. Schedule Alone Time
Yes, I know you love your family, but everyone needs alone time! Yours might be before everyone wakes up or after everyone goes to bed. Personally, I need a couple of times a day to be alone. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings when you say, “right now I need time alone.”
This gives permission for others in your family to have their own alone time. If you have young children who don’t understand this, then incorporate a “reading rest time” every day. Children need a time each day to unwind and they need us to help them with it. I did this with my children, and they tell me now they loved it.
9. Schedule Activities
Make a list of different activities you and your children can do each day. One day might be ‘reading day’ another ‘hiking day’. Knowing an activity will get done because it’s on the schedule will keep kids from begging for something every day.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do you have family or neighbors that can take the kids off so you can get your work done or just so you can rest? It’s ok to ask!
10. Schedule Time for TV, Movies, Computer Games, Etc.
None of these are bad in themselves, it’s the overuse that isn’t good. But if we have some time scheduled, we’ll have something to look forward to. My husband and I have certain shows on TV we like to watch. We gather in the family room around 8:00 and see what we have taped. Or we will watch a series.
Knowing I’ll have time to sit with him makes me stick to my work during the day much easier.
11. Schedule Time Away
Schedule time away from the house. We love to get in the car and get ice cream! Or we’ll go to a big store like Costco and get a hot dog. We try to take mini-vacations when we can. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun.
But, if you schedule fun times as well as save for them, life sure can be fun! And short times away will take your mind off of the routine parts of life.
12. And, Importantly, Schedule the Sabbath
My best tip advice? Remember to keep the Sabbath and rest. Don’t work unless it’s an emergency. God will bring back the time we give Him when we stop the work we are doing. It’s a day to make sure you put on your schedule: for church, for family, for rest.
I know making a scheduled list is easier than doing it! But try some of my tips before you throw in the towel. And pray over your day, your responsibilities, your children, your work, and your family. God wants to be in our day-to-day schedules!
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. Exodus 15:2
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. Psalm 57:2
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/FamVeld
Lane Jordan Burday is a writer, best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher, and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas with her husband who partners with her in ministry and waits impatiently for daughters and granddaughter to visit! Lane’s desire is to encourage, support, and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers, and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.