One of the most difficult challenges stay at home moms face is striking a balance between work and family. Let's face it: if you work at home, you don't have an actual physical boundary between "work" and "home," so you will need to find ways to improve your quality of life. Here are some ideas for coping with work and family:
Define Your Values
Do some soul-searching by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is most important to me?
- What do I want to spend my valuable time doing?
- What are my priorities?
These answers are the core of your being. These are the values that drive everything you do. When you are faced with a tough choice between work and family, always fall back on these values to inform your decision.
Define Your Goals
It is important to define goals for your career, as well as your family life. These goals are tangible representations of your core values. To define these goals, ask questions like:
- What are some "must-do" things I want to accomplish with my family? For example, you may want to make it a priority to spend at least half an hour of real quality time with each child per day.
- Where do I want to be career-wise in six months? In a year? Be realistic about what you can achieve.
- How much of my time can I devote to my career while staying at home?
These goals will help you strike a healthy balance between work and family. They are formed by your values, and they are concrete representations of what you strive to achieve. Think of them as milestones on your journey.
Manage Your Time
Once you have defined your values and your goals, you need to budget your time wisely in order to put your plan in action. Sit down and make a list of ways you can streamline your routines to improve the quality of your life, such as:
- Making your morning routine easier by laying out clothes the night before, preparing simple breakfasts or packing lunches in advance.
- Make some evenings completely TV-free and focus on spending quality time with each other.
- Once you are able to work, make the best use of your time possible. Focus on your tasks, and don't get bogged down by unnecessary phone calls or email.
Don't Expect Perfection
Maintaining a balance between work and family is something all stay at home moms strive for. Remember the following:
- This is a continuous process, and you should not expect to be perfect at both at all times.
- There will be times that you must focus solely on your family; there will be times that work must take center stage.
- Don't feel guilty, and don't beat yourself up if you feel you have let one slip in favor of the other.
Take the time to define your values and goals, and then implement time management strategies to make them happen. By doing so, you will cope better with the balance between work and family and improve your quality of life.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.