WAHM Series:: Knowing When to Unplug

This post is part of the Work-at-Home-Mom Blog Series Hosted By Becca Day.

Being a mama is a J.O.B. In and of itself, mommin’ is quite possibly the hardest thing you’ll ever do. What other job makes you feel guilty, sleep deprived, ready to tear out your hair, and full of love and happiness on a daily basis?

But for some, being a mama is not enough. Some will go back to work, and others will take it upon themselves to start a side hustle. If you are considering working from home while you have little kids, then this is the series for you!

Over the next month, myself and four other amazing bloggers are going to take you deep into the world of being a work at home mama. Make sure to go and subscribe to all of the blogs in the series so that you don’t miss a thing!


HERE ARE THE BLOGS PARTICIPATING:

Becca Day – Homemakers In Action
Sara Robinson – Get Mom Balanced
Stacy Taylor – Taylor411
Andrea Kelly – Messy Nest Mama


Knowing When to Unplug – New Series!

As a WAHM, one thing (amongst the many) that I’ve struggled with is trying to find the balance between putting in time with my blog/ other family requirements vs. spending QUALITY time with my children. After all, that is the sole reason I chose to walk away from the classroom and take a one-year leave from my position as an elementary school teacher. Having known full well what it feels like to (try to) balance life as a teacher AND as a mom, I wanted to refocus my energy and see if I could get our family a bit more in sync and waaaaaaaaaay less rushed.

Despite the fact that I’m no longer lesson planning, I am still writing. Writing quality content and staying active in my writing circles is something that is important to me. Because of this new addition in our lives, I’ve had to be mindful about making time for each, without walking around feeling like I always have one foot in each area, but am sucking in ALL areas.

Ultimately, when the familiar guilt of “Am I engaging with my kids enough??” crept back into my brain, I decided to take action. This is what I decided: I pretended that I was being audited by a fictitious team for a term of 7 days. Each day for a one-week period, there were Big Brother style cameras in every nook of my house. Outside of my home, papparazzi spies had hidden cameras all around me. What would they see? What notes would they take? How would they rate my parenting? After all, my parenting and my relationship with my children were the number one priority for me.

In this fictitious team, consisting of my mother-in-law, my son’s elementary school principal, a child psychologist, and a member of CPS, I was being trolled by the judges to see just how good I stacked up as an engaged mom. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wouldn’t rate myself very high and I needed to make changes.

How I Knew It Was Time To Unplug

When work emails trumped pancakes with my kids….

When my children were eating breakfast…. I would quick check – take a few minutes to check spend the entire meal checking emails on my phone. Hey, they were all contained to one area and old enough to eat unassisted. I thought this deserved a reward on my part, no?

When I realized that my Iphone was my 5th limb…

I would go out in public without being fully clothed before I would leave my phone for even 5 minutes. Yep, it sounds bad. The truth hurts sometimes. Whether I was switching laundry or tucking my toddler into bed for nap time, jumping into the shower or cooking dinner, going on a walk with my children or watching a movie – MY PHONE WAS WITH ME. I couldn’t fathom a second without it and it made me jumpy and uncomfortable to have it just a room away.

When my Iphone was my last “goodnight” before snoozing…

Kids, what? Hubby, what? No one in family received the last and final farewells before my head hit the pillow. Instead, it was my phone, or my laptop, or sometimes both. In addition, I struggled to sleep at night. My bedtime lullaby had become my Facebook newsfeed. Instead of quieting my brain before sleep, I was sending it into information overload, which affected my ability to have sound sleep.

When I realized Google knew more about me than my best friends…

I have become so dependent on technology that I can’t live without it. No, seriously. I use Google Maps to get me to my daughters’ weekly gymnastics practice. I use Google Drive to look up my favorite recipes. I use Audible to “read” books. I use Amazon Music to have dance parties with my kids. I use Siri or Alexa to ask questions that I don’t know the answers to. About everything. I literally no longer think on my own. Without technology, I am like an infant without a caregiver. I need it. I crave it. I can’t survive without it.

Gross.

When I realized I was no longer practicing what I preached to my kids…

When my kids were engaged with one another and didn’t need me… I’d vanish to the office nearby and begin my writing.

Sure, my kids were sheltered, fed and clothed and while I don’t think I need to entertain them every second of every day, I do feel like it is my obligation to give them memories of their mother’s eyes, engaged energy, and attention.

When my daughter said…

The real kicker: When my 4-year old, with her big beautiful brown eyes filled with sadness, said, “Mommy, why don’t you ever want to play with me?” 

OUCH. 

It was time.

How to UNPLUG

PUT DOWN THE PHONE.

Time travel to circa 1995, before the days where we turned into screen-seeking zombies who traveled without navigation, waited patiently instead of receiving instant gratification, and CALLED our friends instead of texting all hours of the day and night. Just. Put. Down. The. Phone.

SACRED TIME ZONES.

When you are with others (whether it is your significant other, your kids, your friends) BE with others. In every aspect. My mind, my heart and my attention are with my kids. When working, I’m not making doctor calls, I’m not responding to teacher emails, I’m not booking concert tickets or Pinterest browsing. I am working through my work to do’s and plugging along without distraction. Then, I switch. When it is time to BE with my kids, that’s where I will be. My phone goes away, in a different room, where I can’t see it. I have turned off all notifications so that I am not tempted with the “ding” from a neighboring room.

USE A TIMER.

Hey, it works for my toddler, so it should work for me too, right? If nothing else, if I am not able to shut my device off when the timer goes off, I can learn to cut my kiddo some slack the next time she throws a tantrum over this this time. I can give myself some grace and have a few minutes of mindless scrolling on occasion, but it needs to have an end time so it doesn’t monopolize the next two hours.

RELOCATE SOCIAL MEDIA APPS FROM THE FIRST PAGE OF YOUR PHONE.

This seems a bit silly, but it really did seem to make a big difference for me. The simple act of having to scroll to the third page in my Iphone made me put my mindless FB newsfeed browsing off. Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that make the largest impact.

AUDIT YOURSELF AND BE ACCOUNTABLE.

If you had a guest writer, would you let them go off subject? No, you wouldn’t. If you had a review deadline, would you push it off by a month? Of course not. Just as you should be accountable to your side business, your family deserves the same respect.

GO ON A DIGITAL DETOX

Just as we cleanse our homes of impurities, our bodies of toxicity, and our friendships of negativity, a digital detox can offer a refreshing change of pace. From what I’ve heard, once you return from this screen-free haven, you realize you’re happier and healthier for the break. Once implemented back into your weekly routine, it is easier to set boundaries.

Other episodes in this series:

Homemakers In Action – How (And Why) You Should Create A WAHM Schedule

Get Mom Balanced – Creating Balance When Working From Home 

Taylor 411 – Why I Chose To Be A Work At Home Mom 

Messy Nest Mama – 10 Must Haves For The Work At Home Mom

A Day In The Life of 5 Work At Home Mamas – COMING SOON!

 

 

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7 Responses

  1. This really hit home for me. I am a virtual teacher and blogger. I sought out positions in which I could work from home in order to be present for my daughter, but am realizing that while I am physically present, I am not always emotionally and mentally present. I love the idea of doing an audit of how I am really spending my time! This is going on my “To Do” list…in a good way!

    • April says:

      Hi Brittany, I have to remind myself EACH and EVERY day to be mentally and emotionally present. Juggling work and good parenting is hard, especially when there isn’t a defined separation between the two. Good luck to you, and PLEASE share any great tips or advice with me 🙂

  2. my phone is my 5th limb too and the last one I say good night too. the internet has also caused havoc in my sleeping patterns. I’m trying to be more mindful also of the time I spend with my child. Sometimes being physically there is just not enough. I have to be overall present not just for them but also that I may take with me great memories when the day comes when they are no longer my babies. I think we have more to lose for not being there in our wholeness

    • April says:

      It sounds like you and I are on the same page, for better or worse. Good luck to you on your journey to make meaningful memories with your family!!

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