For a family that has a parent who works from home, the home office is a super essential space. You can’t work from home without a designated work space, and if you are a work-at-home-mom, with children in the house, that designated work space better come equipped with some keys tools and items to make life easier.
I have now been a work-at-home-mom for three years, and I think I’ve learned a thing or two. If I was going to start all over from the beginning there would definitely be some things that I would do differently and I want to share them with you, to help you on your work-at-home journey.
Top 10 Things Work-At-Home-Moms Need In Their Home Offices
1. A Laptop
If there has been one thing that has been used more than anything else in my time as a work-at-home-mom, it’s my laptop. In fact, my laptop has been so well loved that it’s running on its last leg and I am in the midst of procuring a better one. No matter how organized your schedule is, you will want the flexibility of answering emails from the kitchen island while your toddler refuses to eat lunch and feeds the dog his peanut butter sandwich.
2. A Door, With A Lock
There will be times when closing the door and retreating into your office will be the only way you will get work done. Usually those days involve your counterpoint being home with the kids, but for some reason that’s not good enough for your little tribe and they will want to come calling. Shutting and locking the door is a clear symbol to your family that you need quiet space and aren’t to be disturbed.
3. A Comfortable Chair
Babies, toddlers preschoolers, they all need to eat, need to cuddle, and need to sleep; sometimes they want to do it all in your arm. In fact, sometimes there are hard days when your kids just need to be held, and held, and held some more. Get yourself a comfortable chair and nurse while you type or read. Being a work-at-home-mom means finding a balance between getting your projects wrapped up and being present and available for your children. It’s not an easy job, but a comfy chair makes it a little better.
4. A Spacious Desk
Your work space isn’t just your work space when you are a mom. It’s also a drop zone for homework, report cards, mail, everyone’s schedule, and even cookie crumbs. A tiny desk was a huge barrier to me as a WAHM. You will need space to spread out your own work for easy referencing and reading, but you’ll also want to make sure there is space for all the family related “work” that will inevitably end up on your desk. Right now as I look around I see a pile of receipts, two notes about children’s appointments, a lost toy, and a stack of family mail. None of this is pertinent to my job, but has a legitimate need for space on my desk.
5. A Filing System
Being well organized is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to support your role as a WAHM. Developing a well designed storage system is very important, especially if your job involves a lot of documentation. As a writer I have stacks and stacks of back issues of magazines, and they are an important part of my job so they need a place and they take up a lot of space. That kind of accumulating paperwork can make a home very messy, very fast. Mess is distracting and slows you down, so do yourself a favour and book a day in your schedule to create a filing system.
6. A Swing
Not for yourself, though that could be fun! A baby swing was a lifesaver for me after our daughter was born; I went back to work when she was 12 weeks old, and I was often able to get tons of work done while she was napping or even just watching me from the baby swing. I was able to borrow a second swing, so that I could have one in my home office permanently, and another in the kitchen.
7. A Timer
As a WAHM I’ve found that it’s very easy for time to get away from me. I might be planning to devote only an hour of nap time to a certain project that day, but after becoming absorbed in it I am surprised to hear “Mama!” over the baby monitor. I look up and realize I’ve been working for nearly three hours and nap time is over. Oops. A timer is a really great tool to have in any home office because it can help you control how long you work on any given project, and it can also help you pick up your work pace. It’s easy for time to slip away from you in the comfort of your own home , compounding the fact that people who work from home already experience a blurring of the boundary between work and family.
8. Out Of Reach Command Centre
I don’t know about you, but my kids have sticky ninja fingers. I don’t even hear the padding of little feet creeping into the office, and yet somehow my missing pens have found their way to the art easel. That really important note I needed? Scribbled all over. And to top it off, my three-year-old has a wild fascination with scissors. You definitely need a place to keep things that are attractive to children up out of reach. A vision board with clipped on pockets for special pens and other office tools (like scissors!) is a useful way to go.
Strictly speaking this isn’t a thing you can keep in your home office, but family support is probably one of the most important things that you will need if you intend to be a work-at-home-mom, or even if you intend to work from home and aren’t a mom. Your family needs to recognize that you are still an employee and respect the boundaries you set around your workspace and work schedule. If your family doesn’t view your work as serious, or doesn’t support you in your role as a WAHM, then your efforts will be seriously hindered. If your family isn’t supporting you in the way you need then sit down and set clear rules about working at home. They might not realize they are being inconsiderate of your time and commitments, but if they know and are still not supportive that will be a difficult hurdle to surmount.
10. A Nanny
I keep my nanny tucked away in a stylish basket in the corner of my home office, and pull her out at need. Just kidding, but it would make life easier right?