Going from Stay-at-Home Mom to Work-at-Home Mom (with 5 ways to help the transition)
Times of transition bring anxiety. Sometimes that transition comes smoothly, as though you are adding chocolate to the milk. It’s good and wonderful and everyone thinks the change is great. Other times transitions can be a nightmare that you hope to wake up from. It’s more like pouring oil and water together and trying to get them to mix – not easy.
The last two years have been a series of transitions for our family. We moved from a rental to sharing with family for 18 months while building a house. During that time we have house sat, lived in a camp trailer, moved to a new town, started new schools, and a new church building. There was a period of time that we moved our family five times in two months. We didn’t plan it that way but that’s how it played out. Moving into our house marked the end of a long period of transition.
Now that we’ve finally moved, we are in another period of change. I’ve transitioned from being a stay-at-home mom to a work-at-home mom. I’ve already written a little about it here. I work part-time as a freelance writer/ghostwriter, which allows me to work from home and be with my four-year-old all day. It also means I am available for class parties, unexpected doctor’s visits, and runs to the school with forgotten lunches. I also like that I am here when my kids get home from school.
Sounds great right? It is…and sometimes it isn’t.
It has worked out pretty well but not as smoothly as I would have hoped. Becoming a work-at-home mom has been a more difficult transition than I anticipated. It can be especially tough if your kids, like mine, are not used to mom being unavailable for a while. They’ve never had to share me like this before.
They are getting used to it and we’ve survived.
It’s been five months and we’ve found a routine that works well. There are still days that are hard, but let’s face it, there are always going to be days that are hard whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom or work-at-home mom.
As I struggled to make the transition work in the beginning, there were a few things that helped me along the way. If you are facing a similar transition, I hope that by sharing what worked for me your transition will be easier.
5 Ways for an Easier Transition to Becoming a Work-at-Home Mom
Establish a Routine/Schedule – I am a creature of habit. I find it difficult to get anything done if it isn’t part of my daily routine. Now that I work from home, a routine/schedule has become invaluable to my productivity both as a mother and as a freelancer.
I have a regular time set aside for freelance work. I also have a set time that I stop working and do things around the house and with the kids. Setting aside time to stop working has been especially important because with my line of work there is no ‘done’ point. I can keep going and going as long as I want.
It can be hard for me, at times, to put down my work. However, when the kids come home from school that time has to be for them. Sometimes I have to adjust though when orders come in unexpectedly. If I have to work when I would normally be with the kids, once I’m done, that’s it. It’s kid time.
Having a routine has also helped my children adjust to my new occupation. They know when I will be working. They don’t always like it, but they know what to expect.
Be Flexible (if you can) – As any mom knows, schedules are made to be broken. Establishing a schedule has been a valuable tool for managing my new work life. However, I can’t rigidly stick to the schedule, otherwise, I and my family end up frustrated. Flexibility allows me to manage my workload and unpredicted events like a sick child or a quick trip to the school for an awards assembly.
Not all work from home opportunities are as flexible as mine but, if you can, keep your schedule flexible to allow for the unexpected. My work has busy periods when I have to buckle down and work for two to four hours at a time. Other days, I don’t have as much and I can work at my leisure.
If I don’t have a lot of work, I try to spend more time with the kids or get other housework done. That way, when my work schedule picks up, I don’t feel guilty telling everyone they need to get along without me for a while.
Enlist Kids to Help Around the House – If your children are old enough, it’s time for them to take on a few more responsibilities. Whether that’s extra help with laundry, cleaning, or cooking will depend on how old they are and what they are already doing. My kids already have chores they do around the house but, now, I’ve had to enlist their help more often.
They have more cleaning responsibilities because it’s a lot harder for me to get to it during the day while I’m working. They don’t always like it, and sometimes they complain. That’s okay with me. They need to learn that parents do what they have to do to make things work. It has been good for them to work together as a family through this transition.
Meal Planning – Our meals got a little scary or non-existent there for a time as I was trying to figure out how to get everything done. Late afternoon and evenings were the hardest time for because there is so much to do. I found myself behind because I had been working during the day.
To prevent our family from eating eggs and toast or macaroni and cheese for dinner every night, I have started meal planning again. It takes a little extra work on Sunday night but it makes things go smoother throughout the week. When you already know what you are going to make, it reduces the stress surrounding dinner time.
Get Help from Your Swappers or Family – I love this term. A friend of mine uses it to describe the other moms she swaps kids with when she needs a babysitter. If you have young children that absolutely will not allow you to get work done, look to enlist the help of a couple of swappers with which you can exchange childcare. You’ll be able to do your best work when you are not distracted by kids.
Because we just moved I don’t have swappers but there have been a couple of days that my kids have spent with their grandparents and it has been a life saver. On those days, I am able to get so much done without feeling the guilty about not being with the kids.
Everyone’s experience transitioning will be different depending on your occupation and family situation. I find that the more information I have, the better I am able to plan for the challenges that may arise. The transition can be done and you will find your new normal.