I’ve been a work-at-home mom for about 4 years now, and let me tell you, it’s just as stressful (if not more) as heading out to work in the “real” world every day. Don’t you love when people say that? Real world, real job, real blah blah blah. Like my house exists in some sort of alternate reality outside what others consider to be real or something! I wish! That would make it so much cooler! Those of us who do work at home know just how stressful it is. Those who don’t work at home may be scratching their heads and wondering what’s so stressful about working in our jammies all day. Well, let me tell you why!
Reasons working at home causes so much stress
1. Constant distractions. Even if our kids are in school during the majority of our working hours, we still have to deal with the dogs barking every time a squirrel sneezes, telemarketers calling all day, and the constant trips to the bathroom because we tend to consume more coffee than the average person who works outside the home. Hey, that coffee pot is conveniently close by!
2. Defending our job as a “real” job takes energy! I am so lucky, as my family and boyfriend are extremely understanding of what I do. My mom works from home too, and my aunt is making the leap to working from home after decades of working in various offices. Yet I still deal with people on a regular basis who refuse to acknowledge that writing from home is as much a job as going to an office every day.
3. You never, ever, ever leave the office! Well, except maybe to go grocery shopping. Maybe out to eat once in a while. The point is, your office is at your home, and when you’re home, you’re kind of at your office. It’s too tempting to say “well, I have a little free time, I’ll just pound out a few articles before really relaxing.” Before you know it, it’s 2am and you’ve spent more hours at your office than the average fresh-out-of-law-school lawyer (I know this because my brother used to spend 60+ hours at the office when he got his first lawyer job).
There are more reasons why it’s stressful to be a work-at-home mom, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about relieving that stress a bit and finding some balance in your life. Because lets face it, stress can do some really nasty things to you! It can make you gain weight, mess with your heart, and sometimes make you just a teensy bit unpleasant to be around!
How to Reduce Work-At-Home Stress Without Medication
- Take a day off! This is probably the single most important thing you can do to reduce work-at-home stress. Designate a day to be your off day, and stick to it. Don’t wake up early and say “hey, I can get just one article done before the family wakes up.” Don’t give into the temptation to check and respond to the 50 emails in your inbox. Here’s a hint: all those people who send you those emails typically take weekends off anyway. Responding to them on a Saturday means they’ll be buried in their inbox’s by Monday morning. You may even want to consider the benefits of a four-day workweek and see if you can swing it!
- Become a teenage girl again. When someone tells you that you don’t have a real job, don’t bother engaging in a long argument that will just leave you frustrated. Rediscover your inner teen girl, roll your eyes, and say “whatever!” Seriously, they’re not worth your time, and if they haven’t gotten it by now, they’re not going to.
- Switch up your environment when possible. I do the majority of my work at my desktop computer in my kitchen office space, but when I’m just sorting through emails getting rid of the junk, or need some time to work on Pinterest (hey, it counts as work when I’m doing it for my blog!), I take the tablet outside or to the sofa for a change of pace. Anything I can do on the tablet, I do in another room. Changing your environment can help give you new perspective.
- Enlist help. One of the great things about being a work-at-home-mom is that I get to be home with my son when he’s here. That’s also one of the things that makes it stressful at times. If you have deadlines looming and need to put in some extra quiet hours, send your child off for a play date, or ask your partner to take him out to the park. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember, those who work at “real” jobs typically don’t have their children yelling “Mommy? Mommy? Momma? Mom? Mom? Mommy?” in their ears as they try to type up a disposition.
- Get up and move! If you spend all day sitting at a desk, you’re going to have problems. Every so many minutes, get out of your chair and get moving. Do jumping jacks. Jog in place. Do some stretches. Anything to get your blood flowing back to the lower half of your body. It will not only help keep you healthy, but it will also rejuvenate your mind so you can work more efficiently.
- Laugh. Spend a few minutes a day (maybe every few hours) reading or watching things that make you laugh. I love to go to the humor section of Pinterest and take some time to just giggle over the things other people find funny. My humor board is probably my biggest one at this point! Laughter really is the best medicine!
Working at home rocks, don’t get me wrong. I do love that I never have to get out of my jammies if I don’t want to. In fact, I’m writing this while wearing a pair of PJ’s with little monkeys all over them! I couldn’t get away with that in an office. But it’s also stressful at times, and finding a balance between work and home is difficult when your home is your work. I’d love to hear any tips you may have on reducing work-at-home stress!