When I was expecting my first child, I had several friends who had transitioned into work-from-home careers. Some went into multi-level marketing, some sold handmade crafts online, and others were fortunate enough to find a flexible employer who allowed remote employees.

After weighing my options, I decided to make the switch as well. I’d spent almost 10 years as a proposal manager and while I loved what I did, I’d known for while that I’d reached a professional plateau and something needed to spur me onward toward change.

Turns out, that “something” was a brown-haired, blue-eyed, seven-pound girl we named June. She was born in May of 2014, and from the moment I held her in the delivery room, I knew I’d found my purpose. I called my employer the next week and turned in my resignation.

It’s at this point I should mention that mothers who choose to go back to work after having a baby are superheroes to be admired. There’s no best way when it comes to parenting, only the best way for your family.

For mine, it was to transition to at-home work. I found a technical writing company that took me on as a 1099, and I started working from my kitchen table after June went to sleep. My “office hours” became 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. which looks crazy typed out, but it’s amazing how our internal clocks adapt to our sleep schedules. Besides, I was getting up to feed her once every two hours anyway, so I’d been sleep-deprived for months!

When my son Ford was born in 2016, I stayed on at my job. This time around, however, it was a lot more difficult to balance. Yet, I found a few key ways to keep my sanity and get a few hours of beautiful shut-eye in the process. Here’s what works for me:

1. Find a place to go.

Most nights, I still work at the kitchen table on on the couch, though I often pass out from sheer exhaustion if I spend too much time on the latter.

Yet, whenever it’s possible, I love to sneak out of the house for an hour or two and do some work at the local coffee shop. I’ve even been known to go over to my parent’s house nearby and hole up in my childhood bedroom typing away!

My husband works during the day, so allowing him to take over bath time and bedtime a few nights each week is a great way for him to bond with the kids. It also gives me a much-needed change of scenery, which is akin to pressing the “reset” button on my soul.

2. Set reasonable (and realistic) expectations.

I’m a people pleaser and overachiever by nature. It’s in my blood, and a majority of my family members are the same way. When I first began working from home, I expected to be able to take on a full-time workload. “How difficult could it be?” I asked myself. These babies are hardly walking yet, so they can’t require too much of my attention, right? Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.

I quickly found out that my attention was what they needed most of all. I had to be physically and mentally present with them to keep them away from dangers, to satisfy their need to be seen, and to engage them in critical playtime. It simply wasn’t possible for me to hop on a conference call on a whim, or respond to every email within five minutes like I used to.

Instead, I used this opportunity to give myself a little grace. I scaled back to part-time work and if an assignment comes up that’s insurmountable, I ask for a little more time. Does being a parent give me a free pass to slack off? Absolutely not. Yet, I’m not doing anyone any favors if I’m still pouring over a document at 3:00 a.m. when my eyes are crossing and my head is nodding. For my health and my lucidity, I have to know where to draw the line. I also keep a little sticky note on my laptop that reads, “My self worth is not contingent upon how much of this I get done today.” That little reminder does wonders to refocus my priorities.

3. Designate a home office.

This is my top priority for 2018, even over exercising and making a dent on that pile of books on my bedside table. This year, I vow to stop working at my kitchen table and instead, create a warm and welcoming office space that I want to retire to at the end of the day.

This step is especially important for stay-at-home-moms. We see the same walls and the same rooms every day. We eat, watch television, and sleep in the same spots. These are cherished and sacred spaces that hold some of the most beautiful and valuable memories of our lives.

Why, then, would we want to clutter them up with stacks of work documents? It’s tempting to throw everything in a common area where it’s accessible should you get a free second to work, but having a designated office space, even if it’s just a desk propped up against the window, can provide that essential work/home separation and balance that we all crave. If we worked in an actual office, we wouldn’t want to live there too, right? The opposite logic works the same way.

Building a Career and Growing a Family, One Step at a Time
These tips are far from revolutionary, but they’ve made a huge impact on my professional and personal life, and I hope they provide you a little inspiration as well.

At the end of the day, whether you’re working from your dining room, in a cubicle, or in a high-rise office surrounded by city views, if you’re a mother, you understand the struggle to be everything to everyone.

The good news is, with the right planning, you can turn your home into a space that you want to both play and work in. The key? Listen to your gut and give yourself the freedom and forgiveness you lavish on your children. You’re doing a great job, mama.

Author's Bio: 

Courtney Myers is a work-from-home mother of two. With more than 10 years of experience in the professional world and almost four years of parenting under her belt, she enjoys speaking on both tech-savvy subjects as well as motherhood and other family matters.