Hi, my name is Amy. Tammy has so graciously extended to me an invitation at Christian Mom, Wife, and Life to talk to you about being a homemaker and working from home. For several years I worked as a stay at home mom and a seamstress. I did the things that you would automatically think of; replacing broken zippers, hemming, patching, and altering clothing. I also did some really fun commissioned design work designing pajamas for hairless cats and dogs! And some very involved pieces like a wedding dress that required me to remove all the lace trim, beading, and sequins, alter the dress to fit the client and then putting all those tiny embellishments back into place.
It was hard work that took a lot of time. I found it rewarding, however, I had to give it up after I realized the close-up detail work focusing on tiny stitches was damaging my eyesight. After two new eyeglasses prescriptions in one year and developing migraines as a result, I made the hard decision to give it up. In that time, I discovered many things about working from home and what it takes to make it successful.
● Have a workspace that is just yours. Optimally a place that can be shut up or closed off when not in use.
When I was doing sewing work I had work space that was in a corner by itself. I had young children at home and when I wasn’t working I would just shut the door to that room to keep them out of it. Having a space that can be closed off is important even if you don’t have young ones at home. Because your home is your work, it’s easy to leave that part of your brain on and always be “at work” thinking and focusing on what work tasks need to be done. By having a space that can be closed off, you can go with the out of sight, out of mind philosophy, allowing yourself relax more after your daily work is done.
- Make and stick to a schedule.
One of the easiest things to do when working from home, is putting things off. That task is just in the other room, you’ll get to it after lunch...except then something comes up and soon it’s after dinner and you’re just too tired. Making and keeping to a schedule can be hard. It requires discipline, especially if you have kids at home with you. Try and make a schedule that works with your natural daily routine that your kids can also easily adapt to.
I found setting a timer in half-hour increments helpful, letting my son know that I would be sewing for a half hour and putting up a baby gate so that he could be nearby, but not come climb all over me. He would have activities for him to be doing while I worked. We did things like; train time, play dough, book station, action figures, and also on occasion, but not all the time, TV time. By setting a timer it kept us both aware of how much longer we had to go and allowed me to make the best use of my time. When the half-hour was up we would take time to do something together. I did the bulk of my work through nap-time, which is invaluable to a work at home mom. When he outgrew naps, he still was required to have an afternoon rest time, to lay down and look at books and such. If you don’t have kids at home, it is easier to set your own schedule. Set up times that you know you are less likely to be interrupted and stick with them.
- Keep your work to do list and your home to do list separate, but on the same page
As women, it’s hard for us to shut our brains off. We are always thinking of what needs to be done next. And if you are anything like me, that sometimes means I have the tendency to wander off in the middle of one project to start another that I’ve just thought of. By keeping separate lists, you can optimize your work time. If you suddenly remember something that needs to be done at home, write it down and then finish working the time you’ve scheduled knowing that your other list is right there waiting for you. To help with this point, I’ve created a free printable work/home task list and weekly calendar.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You don’t have to be superwoman. If you have a huge project coming up or are working with a tight deadline, ask a friend to help babysit if you need it. Again, if you don’t have kids at home, but are facing a super busy week, don’t be afraid to ask your husband to help out a little more than usual. Your business is important too.
- Take time to get some exercise and sunshine.
This might seem like a silly one. But it really is important. Working by yourself from home, its easy fall into depression. Especially if your workspace is not near any windows or if you are sitting for large portions of time. Getting up and getting some exercise and sunshine will naturally help stave off depression, keep your energized, and ultimately improve your output!
- Start your day with prayer and remembering that whatever work it is you are doing, God has called you to this task.
I’ve saved this one for last, because I think that is the most important on the list. Start your day with prayer. Ask God to help you through the day as you go about your tasks. Pray for guidance about tough decisions you know are coming up. And no matter what kind of work you are doing, whether you are running a home day care, crafting things to sell, doing data entry, telemarketing from home...remember that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord.” Colossians 3:23
Please feel free frame and hang this printable near your workspace as daily encouragement.
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