Working from home means that there often isn't a separation between "home" and "work" unless you make that distinction yourself. Juggling kids and job duties becomes almost synergistic as you fall into a groove, but when work is done, where does home begin? Striking the right balance means learning to turn off "work mode" and turn on "mom mode" when the work day is done – and a whole new meaning of work begins!
Work Mode vs. Mom Mode
"Work mode" is that frame of mind where you've set aside a specific amount of time to get work-only things accomplished. In this mode you're the down-to-business, no nonsense employee who is capable, intelligent, reliable and able to produce the kind of results that your boss admires.
"Mom mode" is, and should be, something entirely different for the sake of your and your family's sanity. Yes, you're mom all the time, but it's important to draw a distinction between who are you are work and who are at home, even if it's the same physical place. Being the commanding, buckled-down, highly focused person you are at work is a contrast to the loving, playful, leader that you are when you're not on the clock, so how do you differentiate between the two? How can you avoid the "taking work home" mindset when home is where you work?
There have been multiple studies on the difficulties that soldiers face when reintegrating into society after deployment. Some struggles include not knowing what your role is, feeling like you're being treated in a manner that doesn't respect your capabilities, being bored, and feeling a disconnect with family members and friends. This scenario parallels what work-at-home moms may feel when struggling with the work and home balance.
The U.S. Department of the Interior released an employee memo with some important tips to leaving work at work (or in this case leaving work at your desk to concentrate on your home responsibilities):
1) Take a time out. Before stepping away from your desk, give yourself a few "mental minutes" to adjust your thinking from "work mode" to "mom mode." Think about the things you need to do for the rest of the day and about how to spend time with your family and address issues that will arise.
2) Decide to be "there." Being fully present in the moment is important. It will take a firm, committed decision to step away from work and be emotionally invested for the rest of the day with your home responsibilities. Promise yourself that you will be the mom your family deserves and when work thoughts arise, write them down and stick them somewhere you can come back to later.
The Full-time You
Being a full-time employee isn't the same as being a full-time mom. Being mom is a 24/7 job, while working typically requires 8 hours a day. Keep some perspective and remember where the investment of your emotions will really pay off in the future. Balancing two sides of yourself means understanding which side needs to apply to home and which work – and keeping them there.