How to rock the working-from-home & parenting gig

Brought to you by Office 365.

Being a mama is a super juggling act. If I had told my pre-mama self what I was going to have on my plate when I had kids, I would have taken a nice long holiday and entered into fierce denial that it was ever going to happen. What – me juggle all that? Never.

But I do it. We all do it. There are moments when I think I’ve mastered it. There are other moments when I want to crawl into bed, have a little sook and hope that things get easier REALLY soon. It’s hard. But if I’d told my pre-mama self how amazing being a mama is, besides all the exhausting juggling and stuff, I would have been excited.

So I’ve cheekily called this post ‘how to rock the working-from-home and parenting gig’. To be honest, I don’t have the secrets on ‘rocking it’ but I thought I’d share how I do it, and perhaps you might pick up on some things that will work for you. And maybe you can share some hot tips with me below in the comments.

my-day-1
Luella usually wakes around 4:30am, so I feed her and put her back to sleep. I sneak out to the lounge room and get most of my work done. This early morning work period is when I ‘Eat The Frog First’ {i.e. get the stuff I don’t really want to do}. This morning it’s my freelance writing. It’s a lot of planning in Excel and then moving into Word documents. Is it sad that I make things pretty with colour-coding my Excel sheets?

my-day-2
By 8am everyone is up. Sometimes I have the helping hands of Hubby, if he’s not on an early shift at work and I’m in control of it all myself. I’m lucky that Hubby makes Lacey’s lunch every day without fail, so I don’t have to worry about that. Today he’s home, thankfully. I haven’t given it a go yet, but in Outlook you can setup a shared family calendar, which is going to help me track hubby’s work shifts and Lacey’s school & social life {and remember who’s going where and when}.

my-day-3
On the days that Hubby is home, I try and get as much of my work done as possible, so that the days he’s at work, I can concentrate on Luella and do fun stuff with her {and Lacey if she’s home from school}. I’m working on a new eBook that I’m hoping to launch in May. I write it in Word and then save it as a PDF once it’s complete {which makes it a lot easier than having to use a separate converter because if you’ve ever made an eBook before – you’ll know what I mean!}.

my-day-4
Last year, I got really behind in tracking my expenses, because I had the baby. This year, I’m vowing to make it easier on myself by doing it regularly. One of the hidden gems I found in Office is that they have a ton of family budget templates in Excel, which makes it tons easier to keep everything organised. So far, so good… even though we’re only into the third month of the year!

my-day-5
With a morning of work under my belt, it’s time for some Vitamin D. Today we took the dog for a walk {and Luella too} and grabbed some lunch on the way home {sushi!}. Other times we’ll run errands, which is a lot easier when you can save your shopping list or blog post ideas on your phone like you can with OneNote. We always try and do stuff together to make the most of Hubby being a shift-worker and me working from home. It’s our together time {almost like date night, only completely less romantic}.

my-day-6
School pick-up time. We grab Lacey, an ice-cream treat and head home. Lacey is so into learning at the moment. She gets sight words from school, plus we’ve printed some at home ourselves {you can do easily in Word, or even use PowerPoint}. I can’t wait until we start doing projects I’m going to regret saying that, aren’t I?

my-day-7
Dinner time. We’ve been pre-making all our meals on the weekend. We’ll prepare our veggies, and seal them into bags after a market shop on Saturday so that it’s easier to make dinner at night. We’re still finding we make one meal for us, another for Lacey and then another for Luella. We’re yet to master that.

my-day-8
The bedtime and getting everyone to sleep routine takes me FOREVER. I don’t know how to master this one. Luella can take up to 3-4 hours to get down to sleep, and poor Lacey usually collapses in bed beside me. I’m working on it.

Before bed I do one last check of emails {by the way, you’ll be a huge fan of the ‘Ignore Conversation’ feature in Outlook – just like the feature on Facebook messaging, which stops those out of control group emails that always clog up your inbox}, and check through any work due tomorrow {we use Basecamp for work projects, and for the App I’m building}, and I either jot down notes in OneNote so they go straight to my computer, on my notepad beside bed or make a mental note of the things I want to get done. And then, sweet sleep.

♥♥♥

The team at Microsoft Australia recently sent me Office 365 to give a whirl. The truth is, I already used the programs a lot, but I’m learning more and more efficient ways to get things done with the program too. Office 365 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher plus you also get 60 free Skype minutes each month {so you can make work calls around Australia or the World, or the kids can call school mates to discuss homework things} and +20 GB online storage with OneDrive. With Office 365 you get to install one subscription on up to five devices now, so you can also share the programs between computers and devices in your own home, so it’s easier to share documents and calendars to keep everyone on track.

One of the features I love most is that, with the programs working on my phone, I can create and edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents on the go, which makes it easier to be a hands-on mama on the go {if you know what I mean}.I can also keep lists of things with OneNote, which means that everything I think of at random times ends up in one place.

Microsoft also have a great deal going on for parents. From now through Saturday (15 March), you’ll get a $25 Visa Gift Card when you buy Office 365 Home Premium. Check out the Microsoft Store for details.

♥♥♥


{Competition Time!}
I’ve got 10 Office 365 Home Premium Subscriptions (each valued at $119) to give away to 10 lucky people. All you have to do is leave a comment below sharing what you do at home or work to make your life easier. The 10 most useful tips will win.

{boring bits}
Competition closes 30th March 2014.
Open to Australian residents only.
Enter as many times as you like {must be a new tip per entry}.

Comments

  1. Behomefort Sydney says

    I make to do lists for the boyfriend so work can be equally shared. I also make to do lists for myself.

  2. Behomefort Sydney says

    On Sunday I cook large batches of burrito’s or soup portions and healthy banana bread, cut fruit and like you chop all my vegies. When I go to work I quickly grab a portion of fruit, banana bread and a lunch from the freezer, defrost them at my desk and then by lunchtime I can quickly pop them into the toaster or microwave. Lunch is sorted ( and it saves you so much money!)

  3. Karen says

    My to do lists are my saving grace – but I have to keep them under control!! I have started keeping them to my top 3 things for each day. I was starting to have lists a mile long – they were making me more stressed rather than easing the burden so now I only list 3 things each day – if I get to do more that’s great but getting through 3 things a day gives me a sense I am winning the fight!

  4. Kym Potts says

    I set reminders on my phone for everything. I have each different section colour coded and set an alarm for things that need to be done. It works well for me. I can tick them off as I go then look back at any given time to see what I have achieved. My husband an also sync his phone to my reminders. I happen to have a tab – random things to do which basically means things I need husband to do! It works really well for us and so far so good in terms of achieving our organisational goals.
    Kym
    [email protected]

  5. Rachael says

    I create a ‘home’ for every single item that lives or comes into our home, cull clutter & limit what my 3 littlies can access. I aim to return everything to its home before I go to bed every night so that we have a fresh slate for the next day. If something takes 30 seconds or less to put away during the day I will take the time to do it on the spot. This constant maintenance saves me from being overwhelmed!

  6. says

    It’s hard do juggle everything. It’s a bit easier using color tags, ‘to-do’ lists, a lot of patience, and dancing around the clock… Sometimes it’s doable. Sometimes it isn’t. That’s life :)

  7. Rachel K says

    My worst household chores are a toss-up between the garbage bin and ironing! The first makes me want to throw up the latter is so dull and boring I would rather listen to a radio talk back show (in a language I don’t even speak) while plucking my armpit hair, than press metal to cloth! Neverthelessthese chores have to be done!

    To combat the bin stench I sprinkle bicarbonate of soda in the bottom in a bid to deodorise the bin just a little. A few quarter slices of lemon or lime in the bins help with the pong too, which gives me an excuse to indulge in a few Gin & Tonics or Lemon, Lime and Bitters just so I can throw the leftover citrusy slices in the bin.

    When it comes to ironing I can only manage it in small bursts or I lose the will to live! Ha, ha! I set up the ironing board in the lounge and plonk the basket of clothes next to it. I then settle down on the couch to watch my weekly dose of “Bold and the Beautiful” which I have recorded. I iron one or two things every ad break and then settle back on the couch in between ads for my next installment of what my husband calls “brothel TV”! This makes ironing just bearable!

    Adding a little spark to the things you dislike doing can make them easier and just that little bit more enjoyable!

  8. Sara Keli says

    I work while my bubba is asleep in the morning and napping throughout the day, occasionally take/make calls while I am breastfeeding and the rest of the day I devote to my daughter. When hubby gets home I do a quick clean of the house and cook dinner. After baby goes to bed I unwind on the couch for awhile and if I have the energy or inclination finish off some more work. What doesn’t get done today will still be there tomorrow!

  9. Linda- lulufroufrou says

    The hubby and I have a synced calendar with our emails – we put everything in it. Its worked so well. I know when he will be late and he knows when the kids have activities etc.

  10. Jen Robe says

    I take photos of school newsletters and notes on my phone, there are so many and I can never find the info I need when I need it otherwise!

  11. georginaaa says

    Running a business from home with a 5month old, I have a roster of certain chores I need to get done each day (bathrooms/vacuuming/doing business accounts etc). I also try to go to bed with the kitchen clean and baby items put away.

  12. Michelle B. says

    Lists, lists, lists. To do lists, activity lists, meal list, shopping lists, I have a list for everything to keep me on track.

  13. Stephanie says

    I usually try to tackle my list of cleaning at night and get my workouts done in the morning. I try and leave the daylight hours for work, but running errands is sometimes difficult to fit in. I use two useful apps to keep me on track. I use aNote to keep all my To-do lists from bills, appointments, shopping, and even work projects. The second app is Day One and I use that to schedule all my workouts. I like using this app separately that way I can look back and see a full month’s of workout dedication, or lack thereof. I’ll have to try the weekend time to prep foods for dinner. Thanks so much.

  14. Winnie Bateman says

    I use my phone calender to set reminders of all my appointments, bills to pay, etc. Also with meal prep, I cook a big batch on the weekend and divide it up into take away tubs to freeze. Then whenever you’re feeling lazy or don’t have time to cook you can defrost a meal from the freezer!
    Screenshots and taking photos of things for reminders for later using your phone camera is also useful but glogs up your phone memory. This is where drop box or similar comes in handy. I use a basic free shift calender app to roster all my shifts for the next few months. If it could sync to my phone calender that would be even better!

  15. Sarah Armitage says

    No matter if I am working from the office or home, I make my lunch the night before with the school lunches. It means that I always eat a well balanced lunch (which helps my concentration level), and if I am working from home I don’t end up wandering into the kitchen to graze every half hour!

  16. Elita Hooper says

    I love my diary, it goes everywhere with me, it is ruled up with a squares for me and one each for my 2 boys and I sit down usual on sunday afternoon and go though the coming week with hubby.

  17. says

    I have a 2yr old & 5 month old so mornings & nights are a little bit chaotic to say the least. To minimise tantrums (both the kids & me..haha) I pack day-care food the night before, on Sunday nights I make a big batch of bircher muesli (http://www.waitingforbanjo.com/2014/02/to-bircher-to-bircher.html) so that is a healthy breakfast taken care of for the week & I cook dinner in the afternoons & have Master 5 months bathed by the time Master 2 gets home (3 days a week).
    I would be lost without our shared calendar – appointments, bills, play dates, hubs weekend shifts, everything goes in there so we know what we’re up to. I also store & share important docs (eg. weekly budget) through Google Drive so we both have easy & remote access to the latest version. I absolutely love the thought of 20GB of online storage via Office 365…very enticing!
    And I am also the unofficial Queen of Lists. I gather the ‘pieces’ as I think of them during the day using the voice recorder on my phone & email them to myself. Then I listen back & ‘build’ them at night.

    Thanks for sharing how you make your crazy days a little less crazy x

  18. Jodi Geddes says

    I have created some great workout ‘Playlists’ on Youtube and these range from a 10minute workout to a 50minute workout. Best part is that they are all free! When I put my daughter down for her morning sleep, I put on my workout and catch up on my favourite shows at the same time. That way, I get my exercise over and done with while watching catch up TV. It works brilliantly and the time flies!

  19. says

    I find it incredibly difficult to concentrate working from home (that feel incredibly lucky to be able to do it), so I spend most of my work days at the state library. That way I’m not distracted by the piles of washing and the breakfast dishes in the sink. My desk isn’t nearly as organised and pretty as yours!

  20. Kelly Cooper says

    Some days it all creeps up on me and the school uniforms need to be washed and meals cooked as urgently as my work deadlines need to be met. On days where I feel like I’ve list control of any schedule, I set the alarm on my phone for 15 minute intervals. I spend short bursts on each task, alternating between home and work. 15 minutes to sort the laundry. 15 minutes to answer some emails. 15 minutes to prepare veggies for dinner. 15 minutes to outline a report. It helps calm me and I make far more progress. Oh, and I always make sure I allocate a 15 minute ‘me’ break. A coffee or a walk in the garden.

  21. Lisa Brune says

    I just invested in a set of drawers, one drawer for each member of the family, and I load them up with all the papers, notes, forms, bills, homework, permission slips, etc that requires tending to. Each morning I open the drawers and can quickly see what needs my attention. This way I don’t forget things like what day my son needs to take in an easter egg for donation, or which day my daughter has show and tell. Bills are being paid promptly and it’s nice to feel in control……. even though it is only one aspect of life – one step at a time :)

  22. Bee says

    My favourite life saver is my stock pot…. Sounds crazy I know but after working at home all day running family day care and having my own kiddies my house can look less than tidy and the last thing I feel like doing is cooking so I usually put my stock pot on in the morning around 6.30am before I do anything else, I make sure I do a big batch so it covers dinner that night and school lunches the next day or two. This saves me time and hassle after a long working day.

  23. says

    OH my gosh I need this! I’ve been feeling so over whelemd lately with the blog taking off and getting emails every day while parenting Olivia and trying to run a home wares store. I don’t have many tips except to write a list in the morning or even the night before and prioritize them. Number them and start at the top and just DO THEM! Lists and numbering importance has helped me a lot. I often avoid the important things because they’re often bigger and harder but then I regret it. Great entry Chantelle x

  24. Erica says

    All my stationary and craft supplies have been organised into little jars, pots and tubs so I can easily grab what i need when it is needed. Ziplock bags help with organising things – I’ve got 4 different sizes so I don’t have excessive plastic taking up much needed space. It also means things in ziplock bags can be packed into tubs and boxes in a tetris type style.

  25. Jacinta Barnes says

    I am not even remotely close to having the work from home being a mummy thing worked out but with a 3 year old and an 8 month old I am slowly getting there… and by slowly I mean snail pace slow!

    My biggest tool is my phone! I have lists galore in there ranging from what parcels I am expecting from online shopping to grocery lists to planning out the kids birthday parties a year in advance. If an idea comes into my head it goes into a list and then I check it off or delete the list when I’m finished. I have an obsessive compulsive need to finish a list as well so it motivates me more as sadly one of my joys in life is ticking off something I have done!

    I take advantage of every little second of time I have without the kids and that is generally only when they sleep. Luckily they both have a sleep after lunch at the same time so I am a crazy lady during those 2 or so hours and I make dinner, pack their daycare bags if they are going the next day and do quick clean ups.

    I don’t mind being non stop all day without a break because once 7pm hits and the kids (luckily for me!) go to bed then that is my time to sit at my computer and do whatever work I need to do (or Facebook or Instagram or online shopping hehe!)

    Oh and something I can’t live without is my Family Calendar from Kikki K on my fridge! I generally organise it a month in advance and there is a column for cleaning. Each day I have a task that never really gets done in the quick clean ups like wiping down the kitchen cupboards or doing the window sills etc so I have all these really annoying things on a monthly rotation and if I do one a day it doesn’t feel like such a chore!

  26. Sandra Mansell says

    I have a whiteboard in the kitchen that is a rolling week of what’s coming up for everyone in the house. Each night before bed I change the date of that day of the week and fill in anything happening that day. That way the kids and hubby can see what’s coming up and I can give it a quick check every morning before we leave for school.

  27. says

    I really struggle with this because sometimes I do work for clients that require me to leave the house and everything falls apart! I love looking into the lives of other people. I’m such a sticky beak!

  28. Naysie says

    I have started filing receipts in ziplock bags with date and any other details written on them – makes tax time sooo much easier and especially when you may need to return/exchange a faulty item etc

  29. Kristin says

    Definitely weekly meal planning using my “what’s for dinner” planner in a photo frame so all I have to do is use a whiteboard maker on the glass. Easy and environmentally friendly. If I can make dinner in advance, I will. I love my slow cooker and Mimi the Thermomix for their help in this task. I do a very quick tidy and clean to get the house “visitor ready” so to keep up with all the rest, I also have a “housework” schedule so that others in the house know what needs to be done on that day and can chip in!

  30. Jo Kiner says

    I’m not great at the whole juggling thing but one thing I over use is my slow cooker on winter weekends that for us are jam packed with sport. We all come home exhausted have something good to eat and collapse!!!

  31. Miss Chardy says

    Hi Fat Mum Slim… you rock – I am loving your blog, so real and down to earth and so happy to share your hints and tips… so here are mine…. We live a long way from anywhere so it often involves getting up very early if we do a town trip….so I just pop the children into the clothes they are going to wear the next day so they can just get up and stumble into the car (another friend does this every single night to make mornings easier…).
    If going away I often pack clothes into freezer bags (however just upgraded so some fabulous http://www.inyourbag.com.au to replace the freezer bags) I put everything each child will need each day in the bag, so in the mornings when they are saying “Mummmmm, where are my clothes” they can just grab the bag and it is all there, undies, sox, clothes etc, write their name and the day on each bag).
    One last one before I ramble on too much…. if doing a roast dinner or anything that really sticks I put a couple of layers of foil over the tray and then some glad bake down, so nothing gets through to the baking tray, normally you can just pull it all out, throw it in the bin and pop the baking dish away…too easy!
    O, one more very sneaky and naughty trick I do .. sometimes… I put the clock forward maybe half an hour if I really want to get the children to bed, that way they think it is bed time (which is normally 8pm) however it is really only 7:30, how naughty is that? Although Mr 9 caught me out the other day – first time ever, ha ha ha.
    Love everyone else’s tips too!

  32. Jessica Cook says

    I run a parrot rescue from home, and we always use computers for networking, research, pairing up birds etc and it means we have a stud book for breeding and data entry. I think working at home is different for everyone… to make life easier routines are important not just for me but for the birds as well, we need timers to remind ourselves of tasks especially with any eggs that need checking.

  33. Suzanne says

    I always put my husbands work shirts in the dryer to dry … this not only dries them, but if I get them out just as the cycle finishes they come out crease free so I don’t have to iron them, saving me time :-). I also try and have cooking days and freeze a number of meals so when I’m having a busy day I can still eat a healthy dinner. Online grocery shopping is another time saver for me … I live 25 min from a supermarket, so shopping online saves me at least 1hr each time. And one last thing … last year I spent a bit of time to really organise everything in the house, and I find that the house never really gets too messy now, as everything has it’s place to go :-)

  34. Susan Molloy says

    I’m a mum of two year old twins… very hard to get any work done! As a blogger in training, I do most of my online courses at night with the headphones on. During the day, I book in my babysitter when I can, my mum. Bless her!

  35. Donna says

    Everything is on the calendar on the fridge. Absolutely everything. That thing is completely filled in. On school nights I make sure all the sandwiches etc are made and all that needs to be done in the morning is to throw them in the lunchboxes and put them in school bags.
    I lay out clothes for the kids because twice a week I take the eldest to swim squad at 5.30am. This way I know everything *should* be almost done by the time I’m back at 7.30am so that we can walk out the door at 8am.
    I even pre-cook and freeze my own lunches so I don’t have to think about it during the day. And yes, I have a menu planner for weekly dinners. When that fails, Pizza Capers is across the road *oops* ;)
    There are loose schedules for homework, swim practice, footy practice and violin practice (soon to be adding drum practice!) and we have a bible study group that meets at our house on Monday nights. And that’s just the family stuff!
    I also work from home, and try very hard to keep to a weekly schedule that includes actual work, website stuff, social media and book keeping. Sometimes it works awesomely, other weeks it kinda doesn’t ;)
    My husband works full-time as well as doing two (yes, I said TWO) Masters programs concurrently (because y’know, just one isn’t enough stress ;) ). I need to know when he is at home, when he is traveling interstate, what days are lectures and when his assignments are due.
    But once a week I have a coffee date with a friend. That is just about the only thing that keeps me sane ;)

  36. Tamara Lamb says

    I make lists! Constantly. I feel more in control when I can check a list and make sure things are ticked off!

  37. Holli Roberts says

    I work from home and with my two year old twins here as well it can be tricky! I take the computer outside while they play, have a craft cupboard full of ready to go activities and most importantly set aside ‘no computer’ time where we just laugh and play together!

  38. christiechildhood101 says

    I don’t know how you can do the 4.30am start regularly! I’ve tried a few times and it just kills me which is a shame because it really is the only time I am guaranteed a quiet house :)

  39. Cathy Stone says

    My best tip for home is doing a menu planner for a month and then writing a shopping list for each week with the food items I need to purchase. I also have one day marked as leftovers and one day for takeaways/ or if we are out at friends for tea (per week). It works so well, never wondering what to cook, we are cooking healthier options, having much more variety in what we eat and we are saving money as our impulse cooking buys no longer exist, we buy meat in bulk and hubby cooks more, so a winner in my books.

  40. says

    I have a master To-Do list and then I break it down and I write post-it notes. They have to be fluorescent so they stand out! And then I stick them everywhere, so that I will see them and remember all the things that need doing.

  41. Cara McKee says

    Good gravy! Can’t be doing with Office myself, but I’m hugely impressed at the sheer quantity of work you do. I hope you’re doing awfully well, because you deserve to be!

  42. says

    I too work from home, and have two elementary school aged children (ages 7 & 9), plus my husband, AND a small zoo of pets. One of my biggest tips for being productive and staying on task is having a dedicated office space for yourself – even if it’s nothing more than a laptop tray in the living room, or a corner in the bedroom for your desk. Having a dedicated spot to dump all work stuff at makes it easier for me to focus on that stuff when I’m there.

    Jenn, [email protected]
    http://www.jenn.nu

  43. missjojo says

    I have a small whiteboard attached to the inside of my pantry door. Family members write down items we need or run out of during the week. When it comes to shopping day, I take a photo of this list and head to the shops and get everything we need. Saves on losing paper lists or post it notes!

  44. Bronwyn Kelly says

    My useful tip is courtesy of Ralphi. When my furry cat friend Ralphi decided to do a runner last year, rather than make plain A4 paper b&w posters, I used Microsoft Publisher to make colour photo sized flyers that I hand dropped in my neighbourhood. I figured the smaller size (plus colour, wordart & high gloss) would make them easy for my neighbours to remember and not take up too much fridge space. As it turned out, the cheeky Ralphi came home on his own, but it didn’t stop me from getting phone calls from neighbours who both complimented the design and wanted to know what software I used to create my photo flyers!

  45. mj says

    I make list and break that list into a detailed list and a mini today list. Lol… I also make sute everuthing has a place so I can place ot back easy enough. .. with my eldest just startes school im trying to figure out a way I can use my bc (before children) skills to work from home.. any ideas?

  46. Alicia-OneMotherHen says

    I used to have Microsoft Office professional on one of my old computers. I miss publisher! I love the ‘convert to PDF’ function, so easy!
    If I have specific things I want or need to get done I always make a list and stick to it, once I get sidetracked there is no going back!

  47. Annelise Fagan says

    I’ve found that to keep on top of my weight loss journey, that preparing my meals at the beginning of the week will help me to not indulge into the bad foods around the house (I still live at home with my parents so I don’t control the cupboards).

  48. Michelle @ Jarrah Jungle says

    Lists, lists and more lists! If its written down and stuck to the fridge I get great satisfaction in putting a big fat tick through the task and looking to the next one to do :) Has helped me a lot with renovation the house, you need to be very organised and have lots of lists to help things run smoothly

  49. says

    Preparation is the key! Good to see you’ve got it sorted. I’m an excel nerd too. Love my spreadsheets! (PS. Hope you can get that night time routine sorted soon!) xxx

  50. says

    I’m a stay at home Mum/ single Mum/ Candle maker/ blogger haha.
    I set reminders on my phone and constantly write list to leave on the fridge, I’m probably the most un-organised person there is, so im not sure if that is much help.
    I have a certificate three in Administration and have learnt every single thing about Microsoft office, i believe the book we were giving was about 2000 pages if not more. i loved working with word, excel, power point and publisher they really do make life easier. when my business gets bigger i plan on buying it, i think it will definitely make everything much much easier for my business and for organizing my personal life.

    http://www.eatstyleamour.blogpost.com.au

Leave a Reply