After I graduated college, my husband and I agreed that it would be easier if I worked from home. After two years of juggling full-time school, part-time work and an internship, my husband and I were both tired of being tired. (He has a full-time job from Monday to Friday and is no stranger to working overtime.)
It’s difficult running a household and raising a child when both parents are away at work for eight or more hours of the day. Dishes and laundry pile up, dinner routinely gets delivered rather than made, and no one has time to run errands. Not to mention, knowing our daughter spent more time being “raised” by other adults was upsetting to us.
While there are a lot of upsides to being a work at home wife and mother, there are still a few problems that come with it that can put a strain on your marriage.
That being said, there are a few things you can do to eliminate the stress and problems that arise as a work-at-home-wife.
1. Establish a Work Schedule
The most important thing you should do is establish a work schedule.
When you work at home it’s easy for your husband, and even your children, to feel like you are available all the time. Of course this isn’t true, because as a work-at-home-wife and/or mother, you are actually working! Or at least you should be.
By creating a work schedule – and sticking to it – you will not only have an easier time getting your work done, but it will also show your family when you are available and when you aren’t.
It’s important to really stick to it so you can let your family know that you take your work seriously and you are actually busy during those times. If you give in to their demands during work hours they might begin to not take your work schedule seriously, and only start asking more and more of you. This is why it is important that you make it clear that you are unavailable at those times, just like if you were working outside of your home.
One of the nice things about working from home is being able to create your own schedule, so pick times that you know you are the most productive and will not interfere with your family and personal life. Then post that schedule where everyone can see it and let them know that it is your work schedule and you are unavailable at those times.
2. Create a Set Work Space
The next best thing to do is to create a specific work space for yourself.
Sometimes it’s not enough to just have a schedule to let your family know you are serious about your work; you need your own space. Your work space should be just for working, not for hanging out or goofing off.
I know from experience that having a work space helps my husband know when and when he can’t come over and talk to me. For example, if I’m on my laptop in the living room I’m free to chat, but if I’m on my computer in my office, then he has to leave me alone.
Sometimes having a door or a partition is required to let the hubby know that you are at work. The old saying out of sight, out of mind also works for people.
Having a designated work space also helps you feel more like a professional while working from home. It’s a great place to get in the work frame of mind, eliminate distractions and keep all of your work supplies organized.
3. Eliminate Distractions
When you work from home there are way more distractions than if you worked in an office or someplace else. That’s because at home you have your whole life around you!
And by that I mean you have your television, books, cleaning and laundry, pets, and hobbies. Most of those things can be avoided just by going into your workspace and tuning it all out, which is what makes having your own space so great.
Otherwise, if you’re trying to work in the kitchen, for example, you might find yourself looking over at the dirty dishes and wondering if you should just quickly wash them, or start thinking about what to cook for dinner. All of these things can be done later, and you might know that, but it can still be distracting. And even if you don’t jump up to do it, it’s still on the back of your mind interrupting your thoughts.
So, having an office is one way to eliminate distractions. Another thing you should do is avoid answering text messages from friends and family, unless it’s important. I don’t know how many times I found myself waste an entire half an hour texting back and forth with my husband who was on lunch at work.
Social media is also a huge distraction, so don’t open your Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest unless it’s part of your job.
4. Set Boundaries
Some people don’t understand that when you work from home you are actually working.
Friends might want to stop by, or ask you out for coffee. Your husband might take a day off work and ask you to spend the afternoon with him, or to meet up for lunch. While it’s good to get out of the house now and then, don’t let it become a regular thing that takes up more time than it should.
To avoid any arguments, it’s best to set up boundaries right away. Let your friends and husband know your work schedule, tell them that you are working and ask that they try not to distract you.
It’s really important that you communicate with your husband about your work.
This is important because it helps him get a mental image of what it is you are actually doing during those times you’ve locked yourself away in your work space during your work hours. Second, it gives him the opportunity to offer his support.
When I first started out as a work-at-home-wife I didn’t really take myself seriously and I had a hard time discussing what I did for a living with my husband. He’s always been supportive, but I didn’t believe in myself and felt silly for even trying to work from home. Since I was brushing off my work as no big deal, it seemed as if he didn’t take my work seriously either. Eventually, as I felt more confident in myself, I started talking to him more about my work, and he started showing more and more support.
Now when I need to dip away into my office he leaves me alone to do my work, knowing what it is I’m actually doing.
6. Divide and Conquer Your Responsibilities
This is a big one. So many women feel like they need to do it all, and they don’t.
Everyone has different opinions on what roles men and women should play in a relationship, but I strongly believe that when you are married you should be sharing responsibilities. And if you are working and making an income, your husband should be helping out around the house. No excuses. If you have children, they should help out, too.
Sometimes it’s easier to create a fair and equal chore list for everyone. Other times families can get by just by doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, without fussing or arguing. This hasn’t been true in my case though. When I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to working full-time, I felt like I was drowning in chores and errands. It caused a lot of arguments between my husband and I until we agreed on splitting up the cleaning and other chores. For example, he agreed to keep the living room and bathrooms clean, I took the bedrooms and the kitchen, and we both take care of the rest of the house.
Find a way to divide responsibilities that works for both you and your husband, so all of it doesn’t land on you. Just because you’re a work at home wife doesn’t mean you’re available to clean and cook all day.
7. Don’t Feel Guilty
Not feeling guilty is like, the hardest thing to do, especially for women.
We often feel like we have to do it all. We have to raise the children, clean the house, prepare meals, do the shopping, and go to work, all by ourselves. And when we need help, we feel guilty! Like we’ve failed as mothers and wives and women.
Don’t feel guilty for having to work instead of clean. Don’t feel bad for when you have to say no to going out because you have a deadline approaching. While it’s important to make time for yourself and your husband, work is still a priority and you shouldn’t feel bad when it becomes top priority that day.
8. Make Time for Your Husband
That being said, you should still make time for your husband.
Just because your office is in your house, doesn’t mean you should be working all of the time, or rushing back into your work space whenever you feel like it. You have to make time for your husband if you want to maintain a healthy relationship.
In order to make time for your husband, try your best to stick to your work schedule. If you have to work more because of a big project, that should be understandable and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Instead, make plans with your husband to do things when you aren’t working. Go to the movies, buy tickets to see a band you both like, or plan a vacation. If you are parents it’s important to spend time with the kids, but you still need to spend time one on one, too.
A lot of people find having a weekly or biweekly date night helps them stay connected and gives them something to look forward to.
9. Take Care of Yourself
And of course, take care of yourself.
Eat healthy, drink lots of water, move your body and find time to enjoy the things you love. By taking care of yourself you will have more energy, and as a result, be able to get more done in a day.
Not only that, but you should still take the time to get showered and dressed in the mornings. Do your hair and makeup for yourself, it will increase your confidence. As nice as it is to work in your yoga pants and messy bun, you’ll actually feel better if you clean yourself up.
Being a work-at-home-wife can be challenging, but eventually you will find out what works and what doesn’t.