Finding a work-life balance is a tightrope many of us work from home moms walk. When we're at work, we're thinking about how we should be with our family; when we're at home we think about work deadlines. Both lives are forever intertwining whether we like it or not.
The good news is that you can find a balance between work and your personal life with a little effort and planning. Gather the family, pick up a planner and let the balancing begin.
Schedule a Family Meeting Every Week
Everyone's schedules are taking the family in five different directions, so schedule a day and time for everyone to meet (preferably after dinner). Plan to meet for half an hour either during the beginning of the week or towards the end to discuss the coming week's schedule. Ask each member to purchase a daily planner so you can schedule events and appointments together, and have everyone write them down.
Know Your Limits
Balancing means that everyone needs to make concessions and compromise. If you work full time, running kids to multiple practices and meetings will run you haggard. Realize that there are only so many hours in the day to accomplish tasks and you can't be in four different places at once if you work at least eight hours a day. Ask the kids to choose one or two of their favorite activities and allow them to join only those. Be sure the activities are logistically reasonable and that you can easily get the kids to and from activities without a lot of stress. Don't overextend your work limits. Attempt to work only during office hours so that when you are home you are present and available to your family.
Separate Work and Family
Physically separating work and family life is key to reducing stress and being attentive. If you work from home, designate a special space for work only. Create an office in a spare bedroom or clear a space in the corner of the family room, and add a small desk and computer. Work only when the kids are in school or napping if they are still infants or toddlers. Do not allow family members on your work computer or to play in your work space to create the sense of a professional space. If you work outside the home, don't bring work home with you unless necessary.
De-stress Before You Come Home
Just as important as it is to leave your personal life at home before you go to work, it's just as important to leave work in the office before you come home. If you've had a particularly bad day, do some breathing exercises before you walk through the door. Breathe deeply and get the oxygen deep into your lungs. Another way to de-stress before going home is to hit the gym first. If you can't go to the gym, workout at home with a DVD or on your treadmill. Remember, nothing is more important than your family, and whatever stress you experienced at work shouldn't interfere with your home life.
Balancing work and home is a difficult, but not impossible task. You just need to do a little planning, organizing and de-stressing, and you'll be happier in both places.
Gina Ragusa is a freelance writer and mom from sunny (and sometimes not) South Florida. Her 15 year experience ranges from writing about banking to tattoo parlors. Read more about her adventures at http://blog.wahm.com/