WAHM: How to survive

Finding the time to blog is no easy feat. There are dozens of things I either need to or would rather do when I find myself with 15 or more minutes of personal time.

I’ve been working from home for the last several months, averaging about 10 hours a week. Is it worth it? So far, yes. I work with some truly understanding people who want to make this partnership work. It’s wonderful to keep my feet in the water without submerging. The flexibility is appealing, though I’ve had to be okay with unstructured days.

“Home office”

If you’re going to make it as a part-time work-at-home-mom with a toddler* who would prefer to be touching you all the time, here are a few pro tips:

1) Don’t work in your pjs all day.
Even if I’m cranking out productivity from 8-11, I feel gross and unaccomplished if I haven’t showered by lunch time. On days when Maisie takes a morning nap, I’m able to get ready right after she’s down; on the rougher, no-nap days, she explores the bathroom while I get ready (and I don’t get much done).

2) Schedule a few in-person meetings.
I have several dry shampoo and no make-up days, but it’s nice to attend a meeting every now and then with other people. It forces me to put in a little extra effort in being presentable. Maisie usually comes with me, and it’s good to get her out of the house, too.

3) Find atypical places to make an office.
I’ve made phone and web calls at restaurants, enjoyed the front porch while updating websites and crafted social media posts while parked (with a sleeping kiddo in the car seat) in my garage or in a Starbucks lot. Who needs a home office?!

4) Make a hard stop time.
Before the school year restarted* I had to find ways to entertain an 8-year-old* and baby. In the mornings I worked while Wes read, played Prodigy, a cool math RPG, or similar reading software, and until Maisie was up from her nap. Then we headed to museums, parks or the YMCA pool. Now it’s easy: I have to leave the house by a certain time to pick him up from school. I try not to work again until after bedtime because afternoons with the kids are fantastic.

5) Set aside 30 minutes for household chores.
Yes, the house isn’t as clean as I’d like*, but it’s acceptable. If I can find a handful of minutes to switch out the laundry, load the dishwasher and tidy up, it makes a difference. Some people focus on one room a day to clean it well; I don’t yet have that down. I still use Saturdays for bathrooms, dusting and other bigger tasks. And when I want to tackle a house or garden project*, I build it into the weekly schedule.

6) Don’t beat yourself up.
There have been plenty of planned work days led astray, and I just had to be there for the family. Maisie has had big developmental leaps* over the summer — we’re in the middle of one now — and she struggles a lot: fighting sleep, frustrated crying, refusing food. I want to pull my hair out and can’t focus on work, so I push “pause” until it makes sense to try again.

7) Take time off.
Though I spend the bulk of my time at home, I still deserve a vacation. In May we visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center* in Huntsville, Alabama, and we celebrated Independence Day in St. Louis*.

Footnotes / Summer Updates:
*How is little Maisie one year old? She has given us so much to be thankful for. And my goodness, what emotions and lifestyle changes, too. See her monthly photos from Year 1 here.

*(4)(1) Wesley is now a second grader! The school year started August 1, which seems early, but I appreciate the shift back into routine.

*(4)(2) Similar to the day he was born, Wesley’s birthday party day was too hot to host his field day-themed party in our back yard as planned. We made it work by renting an indoor field! He’s such a fun kid, and so was the celebration.

*(5)(1) Somehow I got MRSA staph infection(s) IN MY ARMPIT in July. Twice. One giant, painful boil was cut open to drain, and I broke out into full-body allergic hives from the antibiotics to kill the infection. I’ve been told the boil(s) likely formed from nicking myself shaving, and that I could have picked up the antibiotic-resistant bacteria anywhere. The surfaces in my house have never been so clean, and I’m never using razors again. (I’m also washing weekly in surgery-prep soap and tea tree oil in between. Possibly overkill?)

*(5)(2) Our house project list has slowed way down, though we do an occasional thing. Steven is installing ceiling fans and researching built-in bookshelves. We moved some furniture around. And ignoring the weeds, my dying arborvitae (thankfully Sugar Creek Tree Care is helping to revive them!) and the torn-up mess Lucy made in one of the flower beds, I’ve been dreaming of outdoor updates. We planted a Bloodgood Japanese Maple tree for Maisie’s first birthday as a companion to Wesley’s oak tree. And while at it, I planted hibiscus for our 12th anniversary. I’m now embarking on straightening the pavers that have settled over the years on our brick walkway.

*(6) Maisie’s fussiness pattern is as predictable as a textbook when she’s working on a “Wonder Weeks” leap of skills. She’s as sweet as they come, but she is cranky for several weeks until mastering something new. At 12 months she is:
– Babbling “Hi-ye” / “Uh oh” / “Momomom” / “Dadada” / “Whoa” / “Dis”
– Fascinated with eyelashes, ceiling fans, spalshing water
– Eating all the green beans, whole milk
– Growling at the dogs and waving “night-night”
– Cruising along furniture, almost standing and walking with assistance

*(7)(1) This was our best family trip yet, and it fell over my birthday and Mother’s Day. The kids did great in the car (audio books for the win!) and slept well in hotels. The space museum is fantastic: lots to do, including rides, not crowded, cool models and equipment. We found a local diner for real fried chicken and pecan pie before going home.

*(7)(2) I can’t believe I hadn’t been to St. Louis until now. The city is packed with family activities! We loooooved The City Museum, which was the reason for our trip. A patriotic parade, fireworks and an air show by the Gateway Arch made it a Fourth to remember.

And if you’re still reading this and need more Shattuck updates, here’s a video of our summer moments:

Posted: August 23rd, 2019
Categories: Leah
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