23 Real Lessons About Moms Working From Home

I work from home. I also mentor moms who work from home – or aspire to!  As you may know, working from home is a blessing that can quickly turn into a curse, and can become quite the accelerated learning experience – learning the hard way, that is.

I decided to ask a few savvy, successful mompreneurs to share real lessons that they’ve learned while working from home so we can all avoid mistakes, save time, and keep our sanity.

Real Lessons About MOMs Working from Home

Separate Yourself From The Kids ~ Kids want to be kids: my 3 small kids would play, fight, scream, laugh, tug on me, climb in my lap, etc. To truly be effective, I made an office away from them and had a sitter come in to help. I could still be there and step away from the computer to be with them but she was there when I needed to focus on work. ~ Melissa Koltes @Lovin_Life_Lady

Create An Office Space ~ Productivity working from home is a true challenge with a lot of distractions around and a never ending to do list. I strongly recommend to set up a room, or even a corner, that everyone at home knows is your working area. I found that this space also helps you focus and set your brain in working mode, which improves your efficiency. ~ Gianny Liranzo @madresconectada

Keep Regular Hours ~ I decided to set up a routine after a few distractions got me off-track. Keeping regular hours and an organized workspace allowed me to have more focus, productivity, and time. The really long days became more of an exception and allowed me to enjoy the rest of the house as a living, cooking, eating… space. Of course it is wonderful to take occasional spring days to work from the deck when I can keep distractions down! ~ Janice Person @JPlovesCOTTON

Spend Quality Time With The Kids ~ It’s easy to think you’re spending time with your children because you’re physically close to them during the day but the quality isn’t there. I learned being present physically AND mentally is crucial for successful parenting. Setting several time slots throughout the day to work on projects, check emails, return phone calls, etc. helps set boundaries for yourself as well as allowing time to focus solely on your child’s needs, uninterrupted. Even small tidbits of time, when full attention is given, are effective. ~ Jessica Brassington @WakeWonderWoman

Lack Of Boundaries Can Cost You! ~ There are many perks that come with working form your home, However, it is absolutely necessary that you make it clear to your friends and family that although you are at home, you are actually conducting business. They cannot just drop by unannounced and non-urgent calls should be placed during designated time frames set by you. When I first began working from home I inadvertently hung up on a potential business partner while attempting to respond to a friend’s non-business inquiry. The potential partner was about to board a plane and I was unable to reconnect until the next day. By the time we reconnected the nearly “Yes” discussion had turned to a “Maybe” because the gap had given the individual time to rethink their plans. Things eventually fell through. I will always wonder if we had completed the call whether the deal would have been sealed. ~ Jacqueline Miller  @momgulmomdujour

Pets Can Be A Pest. ~ My cat once jumped on my laptop at the exact moment I was sending an important email. Rather than hitting “send”, my cat accidentally deleted the draft. So I had to start from square one. Lesson learned! During important writing sessions, conference calls and other tasks that take priority, the cat stays out of my office. ~ Maree Jones @MareeJones

Practice The Rule Of The Stairs ~ We have a ‘rule of the stairs,’ where my spouse and I are not allowed to talk about anyone or anything related to work after stepping on the first step of the stairs. I also discovered how important it is to do at least one daily activity with your family. Whether it is cooking dinner together or playing a board game, it is so important to spend quality time with your family, free of any talks about the business. ~ Grainne Kelly  @BubbleBumUSA

Be Upfront And Authentic ~ Managing the noise level when a call comes in can be difficult. Once I took a call from a new client just as my dog saw a deer on our front lawn and started barking as loud as possible. I moved to a closed off room as soon as I could, but the client was fascinated by hearing a dog in the background when she thought she was calling an office. It actually led to a great conversation about pets and working from home, which became a nice bond for us to begin our working relationship. When you are up front about your situation, it can be a benefit. ~ Lainey Melnick @LMelnick

Schedule Everything! ~  Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Time management is best done if you schedule everything you want to accomplish in your day whether it be work or personal; that way you don’t have to worry about forgetting something, it’s all scheduled. Build in much needed down time, family time or fun time, so you don’t feel guilty about taking time to play with the kids because all your work has a scheduled time to get done! ~ Alicia Geiger @CruiseSnob

Create A Safe Environment ~ Between family and friends, we usually have many guests in our house. It is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for any confidential data that we keep on our premises. Sit down and write out your current security features and what upgrades are necessary. We have actually hired an outside company to conduct an audit of our home to make sure we are doing what we can in order to protect our clients and staff. A small investment in video monitoring, safe boxes and lockable filling cabinets will allow you to better serve your clients and help you grow your business.  ~ Ania Fiduccia  @AllServiceUS

Know What Matters To A Kid ~ My fantastic five-year-old doesn’t care that mommy needs to type emails, answer client calls, pay freelancers, and market a business. She cares about when dinner is getting on the table, will I play UNO with her, and who is picking her up at school tomorrow. So, I need to make sure that I get all that I need to get done when she is at school, so I can devote 100% of my focus on my company during the day and 100% on parenting when she is at home. I treat my working time as if I was at an office. If I had a real 9-5, I wouldn’t spend the day running errands and doing laundry, so I don’t do any of that during the day either. I keep my working life and domestic life as separate as possible so all of her needs are attended to when need be. ~ Abbey Finch @ScribeSpacex

Schedule Time For Yourself ~ I used to go to Pilates 2 times per week and stopped doing that because I was letting my work take over. When you work from home, it is so easy to just get out of bed, take your child to school, and then get right back home to start working. I can work all day if I let myself. When I stopped working out, I realized that I wasn’t as productive. I now schedule out my entire day and make sure to schedule in Pilates just like any other meeting 2 times per week. I find myself happier, more productive, and can concentrate more while I am working. ~ Jillian Darlington @MomCoApp

Let The Ideals Go! ~  As a work-at-home mom, you have to learn to go with the flow and let some things go. My house is never as clean as I want it to be and dinners are less than gourmet, but I like to think that my kids are happy despite my dual role. I want to be an attentive mom, an effective businesswoman, and a great housewife. Since doing all of that is impossible for me, I’ve had to let go of ideals and simply do the best I can each day. In a few short years, the kids will all be gone. I am faithful that if I keep my priorities straight during these crazy years we will all be better off in the end. ~ Shelley Hunter @GCGirlfriend

Be Willing To Accept Help! ~ When my mother-in-law offered to take the kids with to a pumpkin patch while I got work done, my mind raced with questions since I wouldn’t be there to “be in charge.” I hesitantly let go and waved as they went off with their grandmother. They came home happy and thrilled, exhausted and ready for naps. I saw pictures, heard a funny story, and I got lots of things done. It was a win-win-win, and since then I’ve learned to let go and accept help by those who want to give love and great memories to my children, instead of having to be in control of everything myself. And since lots of work was checked off my list I was less stressed and able to have a great evening with my family. ~ Lisa Batra  @MyKidsThreads

Turn Off Work! ~ I think if you’re running your business from home it can be very hard to transition back into home life at the end of the day. There’s always more work to be done. While it’s tempting to sit down and answer one quick email after dinner that can quickly lead to an hour (or more) of desk time, when I step away at the end of the day I shut down email. If I want to do personal stuff on my computer in the evening, I bring my laptop to the couch. Bottom line is that keeping my email off and my workspace separate helps me turn off work and focus on my family in the evenings. ~ Kathryn Lagden @klagden

Kids Need To Feel Loved and Heard ~ I try to schedule the most intensive parts of my work while my son is at school. However, sometimes I’ll need to conduct a client session or an interview while he’s home, and what I’ve found is that the best way to ensure that he doesn’t interrupt is to make sure that I connect with him *first.* I block out the half hour after he gets home to give him a hug and talk about his day and get him set up with his homework. Before, it felt like he would constantly be tugging at me while I was trying to get things done. Now that we’ve set up this routine of having that time together, he no longer feels a need to demand my attention, and we’re both a lot happier. ~ Rachel S. Heslin @FullnessOfPower

Stop Working AT Home! I soon learned that I am not SuperMom and I can’t do it all – something had to give: either I would be less engaged with and give my undivided attention to my son or the quality of my work would suffer. Neither was ideal. I decided to cut my losses on both ends: I rented an office space 3 minutes away from home, paid for childcare, worked in the office Monday thru Friday from 6am to 12:30pm, schedule all my work and business during those hours and go home to be with, raise and nurture my son for the rest of the day. Now, work gets done efficiently and effectively, and I am able to raise my son. ~ Dr. Dominique’ N. Reese @Reesefinancial

Don’t be a LonePreneur! The biggest lesson I learned was how to get out of the house and away from that environment to help create inclusion rather than perpetuate loneliness. There are many avenues to pursue to chase away loneliness of running your own home business. Places like your specific industry network channels, Meetup.com, chambers of commerce, educational institutions, hobby activities. The other lesson has been to get dressed every day as if you are going to an office away from home. I always feel at my best when I treat my home business days as if I was going to an office away from home. ~ Lisa Zaccagnini @LisaZaccagnini

No personal calls ~ When I started working from home, family members would call me during the day to chat. I believe they thought that I had extra leisure time because I am working from home. That’s certainly not the case! Now, I have set up boundaries and instructed my loved ones to only call me after hours (just like when I worked in corporate). This has made a world of difference for me. I can focus on getting my work done without distractions from loved ones. ~ Jill Celeste @Jill_Celeste

Train Your Spouse ~ I frequently work from home and my kids are in school and we have no pets so there should be no interruptions. The one thing I never planned for was my spouse. On days that he is home early it never occurs to him to think of me as away at work. He understands the importance of planning a quiet work environment and keeping the kids out but doesn’t think it applies to him. ~Emily LaRusch @callbetties

Leave ‘Playing Pretend’ to actors ~ When I started out I was worried about being perceived as unprofessional for not having a “real” office, but now I know clients really don’t care, and the key to success is honesty. I’m up front on calls, telling clients they’ll likely hear dogs barking or my son in the background as I talk to them (I homeschool my nine-year-old, and I have four dogs and two cats – and they do NOT get along). My house is crazy. Always. “Home-based” background noise happens. The client wants whoever does the best job – and where they do it from is irrelevant! Own that crazy lifestyle! I do! ~ Mary C. Long Can @MaryCLong

Take Advantage Of The Flexibility ~ Recently, at the supper table, my 4-year-old daughter said to me, “You don’t have time for us!” It broke my heart and taught me that the balance I feel is so important in life I was lacking. I learned that while working from home gives me great flexibility, it is easy to get so caught up in trying to get it all done (work, home responsibilities, daily needs getting met, etc.) that I am not taking full advantage of and benefiting from that flexibility. I now set aside time just for my kids for playtime with them, as I do not want to look back one day with regrets by myself or them for failing to spend quality time with them. ~ Anne Newsome @thesatevepot

Get Clear On Priorities ~ It would be give priority to issues of the home (laundry, cleaning, cooking) and I found myself “working” at all hours and until very late at night! I wasn’t being as productive and organized as I knew I needed to and could be. I restructured our house and I assigned myself specific “work hours” that were solely for my job. It took adjusting and getting used to, but it helped keep me on track and helped me increase my productivity. ~ Marta Gutierrez @sweetsbymarta

I am so grateful for this wisdom found on these lessons about moms working from home. Are you? What is your favorite lesson? What lesson of your own can you share?

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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31 thoughts on “23 Real Lessons About Moms Working From Home

  1. I have worked from home for years and these are all great points. It’s easier for me now that my kids are gone at school all day.

  2. What a lot of wisdom! Finding a space that is separate from the rest of the family and setting boundaries inside and outside of the home has been a critical part of my work-at-home structure.

    One other thing I do is make sure I have a back-up plan, especially when it deals with technology. When I worked for someone else, it was oftentimes their responsibility to have the contingency plans in place as part of keeping the day-to-day operations going. Now as a solopreneur, it all falls on me.

  3. These are all great tips! I have to work at home on occasion and the scheduling piece is what hurts me most. I can’t stick to a proper work schedule and I get distracted.

  4. This is really great advice. I have worked from home for the past year. It took a little for my husband and son to realize that they can’t come up and visit while I am working. I love the Rule of The Stairs.

  5. It is so hard for me because I work 3 jobs at home.. all self employed job. I am a sitter so I can’t afford a sitter and I work ALL day long. I try so hard to stop and step away but it’s not always easy.

  6. Pets can definitely be a pest. Mine always seem to want to be in my lap when I’m working, even if they wanted nothing to do with me before I sat down at the computer.

  7. This is all really great advice. My biggest thing is that I need quiet. My kids are grown but I still have plenty of distractions and I find that I get my best work done late at night if I have napped in the afternoon.

  8. These are such awesome tips! Sometimes I have a hard time shutting off after work because it’s so easy to grab my computer and send “just one more email” gotta stop doing that!

  9. Create An Office Space – I just did become more creative with my office space and love it.
    – I do love my routines – and feel better when I stick to them.
    – My puppy pals (3) all stay with me in my office with the door closed, so I won’t be disturbed by barking, crying, wondering if they’re ok.
    Can you tell I like and use a lot of your tips – great post

  10. These are all very good tips. I work from home as well and it was definitely a learning curve at the beginning. Now it’s easier because I’m so used to this lifestyle.

  11. Those are all good points. Working from home is hard! Separating myself from the kids and getting them to respect my ‘office hours’ is the biggest challenge, especially on snow days.

  12. I have been working from home off and on for about 15 years and solely for the last 7. It has been the most stressful work environment of my life. I have tried to set rules and boundaries, but it never works. People in my life just dont understand the work at home concept and think you can work while they are there or you can just stop and do whatever they want you do to. I think I have reached my limit of frustration with it.

  13. I love these tips. Especially the one on setting boundaries and taking care of yourself. For a long time, I never set boundaries and this affected my work greatly. Also, I neglected self-care. I almost suffered a burn-out. The grace of God helped me out. Now, I know that I matter. I schedule ‘ME’ times and never feel guilty about them.

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