• Mon, Feb 17 - 3:00 pm ET

10 Ways For Work-At-Home Parents To Keep From Killing Each Other

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My husband and I both work at home full-time with two kids under two. I’m not trying to win a medal or anything; I actually really enjoy working at home with my entire family under one roof.

Granted, we do send my toddler to half-day daycare Monday through Friday so that we can get some normal work done before he comes home to tear apart the house in the afternoon. My husband and I spend the morning switching off between working and juggling a crazy baby. So far, so good.

Working at home, either alone or with a spouse, definitely isn’t for everyone. But I’ve come to love it because I hardly ever have to leave the house so I get to wear yoga pants all day long. That’s a win in my book.

If you’re a work-at-home parent, you may be in desperate need of some support so that you don’t lose your shit the next time your toddler screams for juice during a conference call. It is possible to preserve your sanity and earn an income while working from home with a family.

Here are 10 ways to keep your job and keep yourself from killing your spouse during your 9-to-5:

1.    Stick with a schedule, traditional or not.

You and your partner may need to sit down and have a serious one-on-one talk. It’s important to find schedules that work best for both of you. It’s especially helpful if these schedules overlap. Example: I like to get up early and get the bulk of my work done in the morning. My husband gets up later and takes my son to daycare, and then he works harder in the afternoon while I watch the kids.

2.    Consider part-time childcare.

Depending on your income, you may not be able to afford childcare for multiple children. Saving money on daycare can be the silver lining of working at home. But… soon enough, you and your kids will start to go crazy after looking at each other’s boring faces day after day. Half-day childcare works perfectly for us—it’s affordable, and it also gives my high-energy toddler socialization during the week.

3.    Create your own personal space.

Let’s get something straight. My husband and I do not work in the same room. We’re not that tight. I’d probably go nuts if I didn’t have my own personal office space (a built-in desk area in our laundry room). My husband works on his laptop upstairs, and we normally IM obscenities throughout the day.

4.    Split up daily duties.

It’s taken us some time to get into the swing of things, but now my husband and I are comfortable splitting all household and childcare duties 50/50. I’ll be honest—this took a little getting used to for me since I was raised in a religious family with “traditional” roles. But once I realized that we were both working hard from home full-time, I was more than happy to share the gruntwork.

5.    Teach your kids independent play.

At first, I felt guilty for encouraging my toddler to play alone, but now I’m so glad I did. Not only does independent play support creativity, but it gives both my husband and I pockets of time to work in peace while my toddler pulls every single piece of Tupperware out of our kitchen cabinets.

6.    Budget money for babysitting.

Unless your financial circumstance really doesn’t allow it, I’d recommend budgeting for babysitting just as you would any other bill. If you and your family spend 24/7 together, an afternoon or night out at least once a month is mandatory for your mental health—and your relationship.

7.    Stay in touch with friends.

Working at home with two small children can quickly turn you into an isolated troll that never leaves the house. I still try to reach out to friends regularly and plan get-togethers. Bonus—I also consider the Mommyish community my close circle of friends, so I don’t feel like a sad sack that is totally out of the loop.

8.    Ask about each other’s day.

Yes, you do have to work to keep the romance alive, even when working together under one roof. My husband and I still ask about how each other’s day was—to shift back into the role of a married couple instead of coworkers.

9.    Treat YO SELF.

As an independent worker, it’s easy to become a task master. I try to encourage both my husband and myself to take time off regularly and do things we enjoy. I’m not always good at treating myself and putting myself first when needed, but I’ve noticed that when I do, it makes me a more relaxed and confident mother.

10. Don’t take the last of the coffee.

If you wouldn’t do it in an office, don’t do it at home. Trust me—your coworker will hold a grudge.

(photo: Dragon Images/Shutterstock)

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  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    Wow. I don’t think I could do this. We do work for the same place, but not building, so I see him maybe once every two months at work. And then it’s like a treat. I don’t think I have what it takes to work from home (husband there or not). A long weekend (like now) makes me feel antsy and agitated.

  • Maria Guido

    Yup. Taking the last of the coffee is the worst. We trade off lying to each other and pretending we don’t want the last cup when we really do.

    • Crusty Socks

      I dunno, the last cup of coffee in the pot is usually the most bitter

  • TngldBlue

    The biggest challenge for me is getting the motivation to leave. I got so much more running around & doing things done when I worked in an office because I was already dressed and out. Also my wardrobe has taken a major hit, I no longer own clothes that don’t contain the word sweat in their name so if it requires pants, I’m not going. This year though I resolved not to say no out of laziness & to buy some damn clothes so I’m getting better.

    • Maria Guido

      I totally understand this!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Well….Maybe I’m officially losing it, but I absolutely love wearing yoga pants every single day. I’m pretty sure that my son’s daycare thinks that I am a homeless person/mother. I literally wear the same thing to pick him up every single day, but in my defense, I own lots of tank tops and yoga pants!

    • TngldBlue

      I figure at least I haven’t stooped to wearing actual pajamas to daycare drop off so maybe they aren’t making fun of me behind my back…maybe.

  • SA

    I couldn’t do it. I worked from home over maternity leave and still do some contract work on the side from home, but it is so hard to work and parent at the same time, I couldn’t do it more than the 10 hours or less I do a month! And a husband in home coworker…YIKES!

  • Tinyfaeri

    Ask for everyone to get you a single-cup coffee maker for your birthday, Xmas, etc. No more last cup and they’re all freshly made! It’s worth it.

    My hubby and I both work from home, for the same company, in different departments that do a similar thing, so it can be difficult. We have separate offices, and we each let the other have kid-free time when it comes to meetings. Otherwise, his schedule’s wonky because of his job, and my boss lets me work a longer day with breaks spread throughout to compensate for time needed for kid stuff. And teaching your toddler to occupy herself is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

    • Valerie

      Chiming in on the Keurig style device. That thing is my very fave appliance of all time. I would sooner go without a toaster than not have my Precious.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I like you bunches for naming your coffee maker your Precious.

    • Bethany Ramos

      This is happening for my b day!

    • Véronique Houde

      F that man get an espresso machine. You work in coffee. Get the real shit! And then you can make one for him and one for you ;)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Oh we have the espresso machine! I just need to be less lazy and make it — such #firstworldproblems. Haha.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I didn’t think we’d use it, but oh boy, do we ever.

    • SusannahJoy

      I love our keurig. We bought the little one with a gift card for a wedding that he forgot to go to (doesn’t even remember who it was for) that had been sitting around for a couple years. Loved it so much we upgraded to the big fancy one and gave the old one to my sister. It’s awesome. Especially if you get the little cup thingie to make real coffee with. I mean, yeah, the other stuff is real coffee too, but still. When I’m feeling super fancy I grind up my own beans and everything!

  • http://carrie-murphy.com/ Carrie Murphy

    Some of these good tips for the childless work-at-home couple, too!

    • Bethany Ramos

      True that!

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