Remote work can be great. When done correctly it can make you more productive while also giving you a better work-life balance. Commuting after all takes a lot of time and workplace distractions and politics can take away a lot of focus.
However, did you see that but coming? It can always create challenges of its own. Including complicating some of the things it is supposed to fix like work-life balance.
In this post, we’ll talk about some of the remote work challenges especially work-from-home moms face and how you can overcome them.
“I’m not just managing tasks from home; I’m building my career while raising a family. It’s a beautiful chaos.”
Let’s just start with one of the biggest challenges with remote work-from-home life…distractions. Now this is a popular topic about work-from-home life and remote work but the thing is there can be tons of distractions outside of remote work too. Like those office politics we mentioned. People passing by your cubicle wanting to chat. Excessive meetings. People putting their tasks off on you.
The home distractions are different but they are there. The good news is we often have more control over distractions and interruptions with remote work.
Some of the distractions working from home are:
- Family and kids interrupting you while you are working.
- Household chores that are just calling your name.
- The temptation to watch TV or Scroll through social media.
- Feeling lazy or uninspired to get up and dressed and ready.
Let’s take each of these one by one and look for some solutions.
Interruptions From Kids and Family
This one is hard. When you work from home people often don’t feel like you have a real job and think they can call or come in or ask you questions constantly. How you handle this will depend on your job and schedule.
If you have a flexible schedule you can work in the mornings or evenings when the children are sleeping and during naps.
One way to make this work is to prepare ahead so you are productive and get a lot done in a shorter period. If you know what you need to get done and when and have it all laid out you can get right on the important tasks immediately.
This works well for many moms because then you have time with your kids when they are awake.
If you have a more traditional 9-5 or hourly work schedule you will need to enlist help. Whether that is outside child care, having someone come to the house, or enlisting a family member to watch the kids.
I had a job as a teen before I could even drive helping a mom by babysitting her daughter, who I think was around 4 at the time, so she could work. My mom would drop me off and I would keep the little one occupied while her mom was in the home office. Her mom was still there in case of any emergencies but I kept her daughter from interrupting her constantly.
You may have to get a little creative.
One thing that helped others help me more with our daughter was getting our house more organized. Her drawers are labeled so others can know where the diapers are, pajamas, etc.
One thing I have found helpful is to give focused time to our daughter before I need to work. If she feels filled up with mommy time she is more likely to do some independent play or stay with someone else while I’m busy. It doesn’t work every time but I have found it helps a lot.
As for spouses and other family members, you may need to explain very firmly why you need this time and how it’s important and ask for their help in guarding your time.
And if you have a deadline and working from home is just not working you may need to enlist a babysitter and head to a local coffee shop or coworking space to complete your tasks from time to time.
This one is hard for me because I love a clean house. It’s so tempting for me to do the laundry or mop the floor instead of doing my writing work and keyword research. What has helped is creating a mom master list and sticking to it. I have certain days when I do certain work tasks and certain days I do certain cleaning tasks. I do some cleaning and picking up every day so the house does not get overwhelming but try to focus just on what I have on the list for that day.
The list is balanced and spread out to help me get everything done. If it is a deep work day, I try not to allow myself to get off on a deep cleaning tangent. That can wait until it’s time for that on the list. If you want to see a deeper explanation of this let me know in the comments so I can write a post about it.
Don’t be afraid to enlist help whether it is hiring someone to deep clean the house once a month, weekly help, or just getting family members on board with helping out more.
Make sure you are really delegating the tasks that you need help with and not just managing them. I thought this post by No Guilt Mom JoAnn Crohn was enlightening.
The Scroll Temptation
This can happen if you don’t work remotely too, scrolling through social media when you are at the office. But it can be even more tempting at home as there is less accountability.
A few ways to work avoid this distraction:
- Implement Time Blocking so you know what needs to get done and focus during those work blocks.
- Set boundaries and force yourself to focus but give yourself breaks where you can scroll if you want to and recharge. Use a timer for work blocks and for scrolling or watching blocks and stick to them.
- Turn off notifications when you are in a work block. Notifications can be so distracting. Maybe you are just going to check one text and you’re off on some funny video that wastes 15 minutes.
- Have a dedicated workspace. This does not have to be a whole office but create a place where you just work so your brain knows when you sit down there it’s time to get busy.
- Use blocker apps. There are apps like StayFocusd or different browser extensions that block distracting websites. This may not work if you need to be on social media for work but it’s something to consider. If you do need to be on social media for your work, have a way to quickly save posts you want to look at later so you know you can return to them when focused work time is over.
- Have a reward system and a great afternoon routine in place so you know that you get more time for the things that are important to you if you focus during work times.
The “Uninspired” Distraction
We can get lazy or in a rut when we work from home and stop bothering to get dressed and ready for the day. This is a huge remote work problem. Those sweats and PJs are so snuggly and it is tempting to stay in them all day. But this does not usually lend itself to productive work.
We will feel more fresh, empowered, and productive if we get up and go through a morning routine and get dressed just like if we were heading out to work. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or fancy but clean put together clothes can make a huge difference in how we feel.
Check out this easy 12-Piece Work-From-Home Capsule Wardrobe for inspiration. You may not have a conventional office but having a dedicated space to work where you feel like you are going somewhere helps too.
2. Work From Home Loneliness And Lack Of Support
This is another remote work challenge that needs to be overcome. Working from home just yourself can feel lonely. I’m an introvert so it is a little easier on me but I still feel like I just need to get out with someone after a while.
Time out with my husband and daughter each week helps a lot but it can be a hard balance. My husband works outside of the home and wants to come and be home when I feel cooped up and want to get out so we have to balance it all. My mom and I have started doing a weekly meet-up with our toddler for a walk and little cafe break and sometimes an errand or two. Just that little bit of interaction and time outside of the house makes a big difference.
Try to schedule times outside of remote work with a friend or family member. Social interaction is important. You can video chat with friends and family at different points in the day too. Take short breaks as needed and use them wisely to engage and refuel.
You can also connect through video with coworkers or others who are in the same field as you. Online groups and forums can also help. One thing I have been taking advantage of lately is the great RankIQ mastermind Facebook group. It is filled with other bloggers and we all bounce ideas off one another, support each other, and can ask questions when we need work help. It truly is a mastermind group unlike other less helpful FB groups I’ve been a part of.
You definitely need to check out RankIQ if you are a blogger! It truly is one of my favorite tools and groups out there!
When I did freelance content marketing work with a team we had a Slack group where we could inspire one another and check in. If you don’t have a connection with remote teams like this for your work consider creating one. You could create a group for remote employees or just for friends who work in similar fields.
If it is more of a lack of support you are feeling try to find someone that believes in what you are doing. Communicate your needs with your family and if they don’t understand what you do find someone supportive that does. Remote work can be lonely and motherhood can be lonely. Try to find those who get it. And remember the Lord sees what you are doing to help support your family and He loves you.
3. Mom Guilt and Work Pressure
Maybe because you are working you feel guilty for not having enough time for your family. Maybe because you are home with your family you feel like you are not being dedicated to your work. It is always a very hard balance and only you can pray and ask the Lord for the wisdom to make it all work the best that it can. Your personal life matters just like your work life matters.
Something you can do to help with this is to set realistic expectations for work and home and get help in weak areas. Learn to delegate areas where you can be replaced. Remember you can’t be replaced in time with your family. Have compassion on yourself and don’t allow yourself to burn out.
One thing that helps me is to remember there are seasons to everything.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:Ecclesiastes 3:1
We may have seasons where deeper work focus is needed. We may have seasons where we are more needed with our family. Our daughter is going through a separation anxiety stage at the moment and just really wants momma which has cut down on my work time. Remote work can make managing these seasons easier. We just need to seek the Lord and be willing to follow what He says to have the wisdom to adjust. Staying connected with the Lord is the best way to make our lives work as a whole.
This brings us to that work-life balance debate.
4. Work-Life Balance
Rarely is anything perfect or 50-50 in this world. Juggling all we need to juggle as mothers and remote workers is a lot. As mentioned working remotely can create a better work-life balance but only if we set strong boundaries.
If we don’t have boundaries our work lives and home lives get blurred and we can rob ourselves and our families of precious time we can never get back.
Here are some ways to set better work-life boundaries:
- Have a dedicated workspace and use it. (No working from bed.)
- Set up your work hours and stick to them.
- Communicate your boundaries with your family and your boss or clients.
- Seek to get more and more productive by creating workable systems.
- Use timers and planners and scheduling tools to help.
Flexible schedules are a wonderful perk in the remote workforce if your job allows it. That brings us to effective time management.
5. Time Management
Good time management skills do not always come naturally. The good news is that it is something we can practice and get better at. Managing our time effectively can help us get our work done so we have more time for life.
I already mentioned my mom master list which has been one way I better manage household and work tasks. Other strategies include planning ahead. I use a digital planner and the online project management system Notion. I have printables to help with time and household management in the shop too!
I also mentioned time blocking which is another great method that works quite well for work from home moms.
You can use the Pomodoro method for working in 20-minute time blocks with breaks in between and also honing in on your routines. Find methods and systems that work for you and enlist technology to help.
6. Professional Growth And Development
If you are working remotely you may not get as many opportunities to grow like events and workshops at a job. And you may be getting fewer networking opportunities too. But that does not mean that you can’t take your learning into your own hands.
Look for online communities that you can engage with. Look for local and online networking events if that is important to you. You can also participate in remote mentorship programs and take online classes. The beautiful thing about our technological world is there are opportunities to learn all around us.
SkillShare is a nice platform for online learning with a variety of business classes. I have any taught classes on the platform in the past.
And while we are talking about technology it can be one of the remote work challenges. If we don’t have the equipment we need to work or don’t know how to use it it can keep us stuck. Try to invest in technology that will help you work faster and smarter. If it’s not in the budget see if there is somewhere you can borrow it.
I am so thankful that my family and friends chipped in to get me a new computer. I can work so much faster and more efficiently now.
If you need help learning, find someone who can teach you how to use technology in a fast and smart way. If you work for a company they may have IT resources and training available to you so don’t be afraid to ask. Face interaction through video calls can improve our mental health and help remote team members work better together. Technology is important. Slow systems and a slow internet connection can also slow you down and impede your progress. And moms don’t have time to waste!
We’ve been having blackouts where I live due to a drought. They change the times to cut the power every day so it is unpredictable. The power went out while I was writing this post with me just typing away. I took advantage of the time to bathe our daughter and do some cleaning. Fortunately, our hot water is on a gas and battery system. Then we had a snack. As a mom, you have to learn to be very flexible and when doing remote work you need to be flexible too.
Having great systems in place can give you the flexibility to adjust when things happen as they always do.
Look for possible solutions to any major challenges you face in remote work whether it is working with virtual teams, communication problems, finding the right project management tool, or dealing with technology. There are so many people that are working remotely now and remote work models that we can learn from. A healthy work-life balance is worth the effort in overcoming common challenges and finding the right tools.
Your professional life will never matter as much as your home life. Your family needs you the most. But with best practices and wisdom you can manage both if you need to.
Is there a remote challenge you are dealing with that is not listed? Let me know about it in the comments and let’s help our work-from-home mom community.
Remember every work-from-home mom has a different family and different journey. I am very big on supporting you to find systems and resources that help you personally. Just because one method or system works great for one person don’t keep forcing yourself to use it if it doesn’t work for you.
I have found that combined systems of digital and paper, planner and project management systems work best for me in this season right now. Find what system works best for you and work the system. Cheers momma!
What are the main challenges you see with remote work?