Be Upfront About it: I’ve noticed it kind of makes people uncomfortable to know you’re working from home. Maybe they start picturing you in your pajamas or something. But I think it’s one of those things that you either hide shamefully or decide to be proud of (like breastfeeding, for example). I’ve decided that it’s better to be up front about it, especially so the people you talk to aren’t blindsided when they hear your toddler is talking (or yelling) in the background. I find that women, much more so than men, are more accepting of the situation. But in general I think people are awakening to the new wave of men and women who have home offices. But occasionally there are types who seem irritated at my background noise. Maybe they’re just jealous of my good luck.
Make Rules for Yourself: It’s vital for your sanity as a working mom to make stipulations about when you’ll look at emails, accept phone calls, work full force, etc. I work at lightening speed when my toddler is asleep. And luckily he still sleeps 12 hours at night and takes 2 naps during the day. Bless you, Baby Wise. So I get a lot done at night when he’s down as well. But not everything goes according to plan, so you just have to be ready. Working moms just have to be uber efficient – end of story. I also encourage my reps and partners to email me most correspondence. I find that email is far more efficient than phone calls. And then you have everthing in print – which is great for back-up. So I take emails on the road when we’re at the park, library, zoo, aquarium, etc. and then set up conference calls in advance so that I have a babysitter during that time, or do it when he’s sleeping.
Schedule, schedule, schedule: I try to schedule my recurring client meetings for the same date and time every week. This way you know what to expect and can plan for it. I have an awesome babysitter who comes every Monday for 5 hours and watches my toddler while I have my meetings, and occasionally if there’s time I go grocery shopping or hit the gym. It’s so nice to have a few hours to get things done, especially when your kid hits the crazy, wild, funny, but hard-to-take-to-the-store stage that mine is in.
Have Help on Hand for Emergencies: Things rarely go as planned in this world, and that’s no different for the working world. For any emergency meetings, events, etc that you have to make outside your regularly scheduled meetings, working moms have to have help on hand. Family is a great option, but not everybody as family around. Best advice: MAKE FRIENDS. I have awesome friends who have bailed me out time after time if I need them just to come over for fifteen minutes, or watch my son for an hour or two so I can make a meeting. To be competetive with people who don’t work from home with kids, you have to be flexible. I can’t just tell my clients “no” all the time. You have to be willing to make things work. Another idea is swapping: watching your friends kid for a day and then swapping another day. That way you don’t use up all your favors 🙂 Don’t have any friends? Join local mothering groups, support groups, church groups, book clubs, gardening clubs, etc. AND MAKE THEM.