by Shannon Franklin
Picture this: It’s early in the day, and your kid has just fallen asleep for what you know will be a nice, long nap. You crack open your laptop, and just as you start making killer progress on your project for the day, you hear it. Bzzzz. Bzzzzz. You check your phone for a new text.
Husband: “Hey, can you put in a load of laundry? I need socks.”
Working at home seems to be a dream — you can keep moving your career forward without missing precious quality time with your little ones. But what happens when the important people in your life just don’t get it?
As a WAHM, you’re doing the work required as a freelancer, remote worker or entrepreneur to generate income, in addition to the more than full time job of raising your child. It’s the ultimate work/life balancing act, and the boundaries are constantly being blurred.
Partners, friends, and family have a hard time comprehending how you can have a productive day working from your dining room table. They assume that working from home isn’t as demanding as working in an office, so you should have plenty of time to do chores, run errands and have leisurely lunches. The reverse is just as frustrating: when people trivialize the time and energy it takes to do housework, they expect that you can just “throw in a load of laundry” or “whip up dinner” during the time you’ve planned to work. And, do all of these things while also taking care of your kids.
Even our remote coworkers sometimes have unrealistic expectations. Working with children in the home doesn’t leave much space for fire drills that pop-up out of nowhere and have a deadline of RIGHT NOW.
Luckily, there are a few strategies we can use to help manage others’ expectations of us:
- Communicate – Very simply and clearly tell the people in your life exactly what they can, and should, expect from you. Sit down with your partner to share what your typical day looks like, and explain how it makes you feel when your time isn’t respected.
- Cut – I say “no” often and simplify my to-do lists when possible to keep from becoming overburdened and stay focused on priorities.
- Commit – It’s easy to tell people all the things you can’t, won’t and don’t have time for, but it’s just as important to choose a few big, impactful things (either at home or at work) you can commit to and give 110%.
- Care – Practicing self-care around managing your own expectations is critical. Are you stressing yourself out trying to be everything to everyone? It’s ok to be ambitious, but it’s also ok for that pile of laundry to sit on the floor for another day (or week) so you can go to bed at a decent hour.
- *Bonus: Cuddle – Your children have expectations of you too! Once their basic daily needs are met, they still crave your attention. I plan “cuddle time” with my son into my schedule each day. I close my laptop, put my phone out of sight, and give my baby my undivided attention. We sing, read, “talk” and play. Planned cuddle time may sound a bit forced at first, but it’s really just my way of guaranteeing that I get uninterrupted quality time with my baby. After all, he is my reason for becoming a WAHM and meeting his expectations is at the very top of my list.