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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Is There Rest for the Telecommuting Mommy?

For the next few days, I'd like to focus on the life of the telecommuting mommy. It's a decision a surprisingly larger number of us are making. Does it work? Can we make it any easier on ourselves? Or is it everything we'd hoped? We'll take a good look.

I myself am a telecommuting mommy. When I first started, I thought there weren't that many women out there doing what I do. I was dead wrong. There is a growing number of moms all across the country setting up office at home. It's tough; sometimes it seems more than can be handled. We do it because the rewards are many. But can we burn ourselves out? I think the answer to that is a resounding "Yes." It's only too easy to go over the edge and allow ourselves to complete our tasks in a robot-like state, zoned out on lack of sleep and relaxation. After all, the bit of advice to sleep when the baby sleeps goes right out the window when you have the at-home office.

So what do we do? The first and foremost thing is something most of us probably don't feel like doing - getting organized. Getting organized implies a time-consuming process involving lots of boxes and recipe cards. But it doesn't have to be so. Start small. Try a list on the fridge showing Monday through Friday, choosing one household cleaning item to be done after your office work and childcare chores are finished. For instance, vaccuuming on Mondays, clean sinks on Tuesdays, toilets on Wednesdays, etc. Little chunks. Don't cram it all in on one day, and don't try and do it in the midst of diapers and email. My biggest change has been to do laundry only on Saturdays (aside from baby's who seems to need it all the time!) so it doesn't interfere during the week.

When I first started telecommuting, I thought I had to be supermom and I'd try and do all the cleaning on the same day. It never got done, I felt like an exhausted failure, and I'd end up starting the whole thing over again the next day. But by breaking everything down into a schedule, it's no longer overwhelming. I don't have to remember what to do - the list on the fridge does.

The most important thing to remember is this: If it doesn't get done, that's okay. Yes, you heard me right - it's okay! It won't always get done. Let's face it - our schedules are jam packed, more so than if we had chosen to go back to the office and opt for daycare. We're doing double duty here, so it's good to cut ourselves some slack.

Let's take that last bit of advice one step further: For one day a week, leave the little slot on your refrigerator list blank. Don't plan anything. Make it leftover night, let the dust bunnies have a party, and just hang out with your family. Tickle your kids. Watch a dvd with your spouse. Read Dr. Seuss on the livingroom floor with your toddler. After all, isn't that the reason we chose telecommuting in the first place? It's all about being there. Saving some energy will help us to enjoy it.


Tracy said...

Ano-mom, you are wise beyond your 5 months of mommy experience. What great advice!

The Anonymous Mama said...

Thanks! I took the crash course called "Sink or Swim"! So far I haven't taken on too much water.