I’ve been a work-at-home mom for the past ten years. I remember this because one of my very first posts on the blog was about throwing a bubble-themed birthday party for my oldest daughter. It has been a big learning experience, but I have found working at home suits me (and our family) really well. With the right attitude, the right office setup, and the right resources, working at home is something that may just work for you as well. I’ll share toward the end of this post about my actual workspace, and tell you about the desk and chair I recently received from Autonomous, the sponsor of today’s post. If you prefer to watch a video about this, jump over to my YouTube channel where I just posted a video about it.
With kids, what does working at home look like?
Let’s be real – there are a lot of interruptions when you have 4 small-ish kiddos and stay at home all day. You end up “taking breaks” from work to: feed kids, wipe butts, get the mail, answer the door, fix boo-boos, do laundry, check schoolwork, do housework…well, you get the idea. Basically, you take breaks from work to do…other work.
Being a work at home mom is not this perfect little picture that is sometimes painted where everybody goes and does their own thing, then quietly gathers to recount the day’s blessings at dinnertime. It is a lot more chaotic than that. I don’t sit for long periods of time (and have never) to just work.
Instead, I’ve learned to make the most of those little pockets of time (some refer to them as “fringe hours”). You can get a ton done in just little pockets of time, if you’re prepared for them when they pop up. Always be ready to do something productive when there’s the opportunity to do so during your workday. It won’t be perfect, so don’t aim for it. You’ll be frustrated. Instead, get in the habit of making a to-do list every day, prioritizing it, and then taking action every chance you get.
How do I make money – what is “work” for me?
- Blogging/Social Media – I create content for this blog and social media to develop a platform and audience. That doesn’t make money, but it creates the platform through which I can earn an income.
- Affiliate income – sharing with my audience products and services that I love that sometimes offer an incentive when someone buys based on my recommendation.
- Selling products – Did you know I’ve written some books and developed a home management e-course? Our family also sells physical products on Etsy.
- Ad revenue – Those annoying ads that are on websites actually still work. And when someone clicks on one, I earn a few cents.
- Direct Sales – Our family LOVES certain products that we can use, and then, as we share with others who may also want to share, we can build a network (or team) of folks who all share in a commission structure. It has been a great source of income for us and those who join us.
Work Looks Different for Everybody
Work for you probably looks a lot different than for me, and that is perfectly okay! This post isn’t about how to be a blogger, or an affiliate marketer, or a product promoter, or really a “how to” of any sort – that’s not the point. If you want to learn about that stuff, I highly recommend:
- Blogging – Your Blogging Mentor from my friend, Crystal Paine
- Video Content Creation – Sunny Lenarduzzi is a great resource there, and her YouTube channel is pure gold.
- Direct Sales – Richard Bliss Brooke and his book, The Four Year Career, is a great resource. Or you can reach out to me directly and we can chat.
My Current Work at Home Setup
Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about how to set up a home office that allows you flexibility, comfort, and the ability to get things done. Here’s my setup looks like:
- Autonomous SmartDesk 2 – Home Office (provided by Autonomous) with white oak top and white frame
- Autonomous ErgoChair 2 (provided by Autonomous) in cool gray and white
- Dell XPS 13 ultrabook laptop (I have a docking station and monitors ordered and on the way)
- Desk organizer
- Short curtain to hide cords at back of desk
Let me be blunt: it is worth investing in good, high-quality equipment and tools, based on your available budget. Your productivity will improve, your body will thank you, and if you’re going to be spending that much time in a particular space, it should be the best you can make it.
Originally, I started with a $75 laptop we bought used. I had a wooden kitchen chair to sit in at a re-purposed old table that we bought at a yard sale for $25…or I sat at the kitchen table or on the couch. It wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t comfortable, but it is where I started.
As we set up our dedicated office in our new home, we decided to invest in good equipment. I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about the desk and chair because this is where I skimped for way, way too long. Barry started researching standing desks for me, since he already uses one at his work and I wanted the option to stand or sit. We kept finding positive reviews for Autonomous (a company I’d never before heard of), so that’s what we went with.
We’ve had experience with three different brands of standing desks, and the Autonomous SmartDesk 2 is much better than the others, hands down. Without naming competitors, I’ll say this: the standing desk Barry uses at work costs almost $100 more than the Autonomous desk, and it requires an existing desk or tabletop to set it on. The other brand we’ve used costs about the same as the Autonomous, but it also requires you to have an existing desk or tabletop to set it on.
The Autonomous desk is really well built, heavy, and I really like the generous work surface. It came in two boxes and Barry put it together in about 30 minutes one evening. We added the curtain behind it because I didn’t want to see any cords from my computer or chargers.
I was really surprised at how easy it is to raise and lower (literally you just press a button!), It is smooth and quiet as it goes up and down too. I have absolutely no regrets that we chose this desk – it is fantastic!
The ErgoChair 2 is also from Autonomous. Barry did some work for a family member in exchange for a Herman Miller Aeron chair that he sits in for work. Before that, he pretty much always sat in various chairs provided by his employer – some good, some not so much. The Autonomous chair is less than half the price of an Aeron, offers just as much adjustability, and is more comfortable to sit in (per Barry). Although I like to stand as much as possible, I’ve been very pleased with how comfy it is when I do sit down, and I really love the look and feel of it. It came in one big box and again, Barry put it together for me. It took him about 15 minutes.
If you want a standing desk or ErgoChair of your own, check out the Autonomous website and enter R-1fb936 as your promo code at checkout for a little extra discount!
As for the computer, the organizers, the lamps, and all the other stuff – make your space yours! You’ll spend way too much time there to not make it a happy place.
What’s the real key to being a successful work-at-home mom?
Success looks different for each of us. But to make working at home a viable option, you need to focus on four big things:
- Be flexible
- Be willing to learn
- Set boundaries for your work and personal life (hence why a dedicated working space is important)
- Work in pockets of time
I want you to be successful. If working at home is what you believe is the right plan for you, I hope this has helped you figure some things out. Also, if you want more info, check out this work at home Q&A post I did a while back.
If you still have questions, please reach out to me or comment below.