Being a working single mom sounds like it would be impossible to have a work-life balance. With remote working, I’ve found that not only is it possible, but that when done well, you can truly kick ass in both the work and life areas while staying perfectly balanced.
Nobody has superpowers. It’s most likely you’ll drop one ball or the other – and that is okay if you know that in the end, what you are doing will even out and balance again.
I know what you’re thinking. How did I end up managing operations for a digital design agency with team members scattered around the globe while being a mom to two beautiful girls?
The answer: I integrated.
As the kids wake up early to prep for school, I have to wake up early too. Doing this became a habit. Wherever I am, my eyes are wide open even before it’s time for breakfast. After they leave, I start my work with a cup of coffee and a bunch of emails. When my 2-year old comes back from daycare, I take a break to smother her with hugs and kisses until she finally says, “go back to work, mama!”
Not everyone is cut out for remote working. When you realise it’s for you, you’ll find a lot of opportunities to better yourself in so many areas because the freedom you have gives you the opportunity to explore what’s out there. When the Internet is your office, you’re not bound by the walls of your cubicle to discover the world.
Rather than disadvantages, I call these ‘my challenges’ – things that could easily be avoided as you adjust to the remote working environment.
#1: You’ll never know when to stop
Solution: Put your laptop somewhere out of sight when you are not working (i.e. weekends) so that you are not tempted to dip into work and finish things off.
#2: People think you’re tinkering with your computer all the time
Solution: Ensure that you have clear boundaries in place. Don’t work when you are not meant to unless you have agreed to it with people beforehand. If people see you working away at all times, they will expect it of you all the time.
And if people don’t understand the concept of remote working and try and blur your focus, politely explain to them when your working hours are and arrange your shared time with them accordingly.
#3: Lack of social life
Solution: As with working in an office, if you have a lot on your plate, your social life can suffer. And when you work from home it can be hard to know when to draw the line and make time for yourself. Ensure that you have an excellent team in place so that the workload is shared. Delegate when necessary and be sure to slot in time for socialising and relaxation so that you don’t burn out.
Aside from the freedom? Let’s see…
#1: Family bonding
You get to see your kids a lot more than you could when working in an office. Doing this is by far the best advantage. Your children can grow up seeing you around. There’ll be no ‘you spend too much time working in the office’ or ‘you missed my graduation’ or ‘you forgot to take me to my ballet class’ kinds of talk.
Doing your nails while checking your emails and taking a call? No problem! However, don’t confuse this as neglecting one task for the other.
#3: You learn to be more responsible, accountable and integrous
As Uncle Ben said to Spider-Man, “remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.” It is the same when it comes to freedom. It is liberating and the extra responsibility can give you ample chances to showcase your worth and talent.
#4: Freedom to work from anywhere
This has to be stressed because it’s quite nice to step out of the house to work at your favourite cafe and have the some peace and quiet too. Kids are lovely but hey, they can be very rowdy at times.
How to Integrate in Remote Working
Take mini-breaks – If you don’t you will burn out and your work will lose focus and dip in quality.
Define your working hours and be disciplined enough to stick with them – Routine is good and by setting your working hours, you and your team will be a more cohesive unit and your productivity will always be at peak.
Create your workspace and make sure your kids understand what it’s for – To successfully work remotely you need boundaries, and this is something that your children should fully understand.
Don’t feel guilty – You are working hard and providing for your kids. That is incredible, and you should feel great about it.
Know your priorities – Is it the meeting you set a couple of days ago or is it bringing your kid to the doctor? This goes back to not feeling guilty because you have every chance to make up if you so choose to cancel the meeting.
Build a support system – Working from home can be lonely, so make sure you surround yourself with supportive friends and colleagues.
Do not forget to have a life!
Working remotely is an excellent life choice not only for single working moms but for anyone looking for a work situation with a bit more flexibility. The freedom it gives you allows you more time to take care of your family while still being productive and generating significant results for your workplace.
Curious about what working from home is like? Or are you already doing so and have seen a better relationship with your family? Tell us about it on Twitter at @melewi!