15 Tips to Smooth the Transition from SAHM to WAHM
Making the decision to transition from being a SAHM to WAHM (stay-at-home mom to work-at-home mom) requires thought, dedication and preparation. Although it doesn’t need to be a long process, there are certain things you can do to make sure the transition phase goes as smoothly as possible — for you AND for your whole family.
Transitioning from SAHM to WAHM
Use these 15 tips to help you prepare for a smooth SAHM to WAHM transition.
1. Rid Yourself of Guilt
One of the most important things you can do is let go of any type of guilt you have associated with working. There is nothing wrong with wanting to and needing to earn a living. It doesn’t matter if you start an at-home business or work a remote job, the need to challenge yourself, go after a dream, and provide for your family is valid and important.
At the end of the day, your kids will be OKAY with mommy having to work sometimes. In fact, think of what a great example you are setting for them!
2. Be Realistic
Trying to work with a potty-training toddler, nursing baby or petulant teenager can be hard in any circumstance. But when you are working at home, it can de downright detrimental to productivity. The sooner you can accept this and start to figure out ways to work around it, the better.
The best course of action is to assess your availability and pencil in a realistic schedule for yourself. (Time blocking is a great way to get this done.) Whenever possible, you should plan to schedule your work around your family instead of the other way around. Work will occasionally have to come first (as it should!), but since you are traveling down the SAHM to WAHM path for a reason, you should try to be realistic with your priorities right from the start.
3. Get Help When You Need It
Whether it’s a nanny, a housekeeper, a VA, or an always willing grandma, leveraging help that is available (and that makes sense for your budget) is a great way to both smoothly transition and level up your work-at-home mom career. Never, ever feel guilty for seeking out and accepting any help that is offered.
Acknowledging that you sometimes just can not do everything on your own is actually a sign of tremendous strength. If you really want your business to succeed you will take the steps necessary to see that it does.
4. Create a System
Do you remember that episode of The Jetson’s where Rosie the Robot has a glitch that puts her into super-organizational mode? Her mantra throughout the episode is “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
Now, I’m not saying you should go crazy like Rosie did, but adopting a little bit of this mindset can be super helpful as you transition from your role as a SAHM to WAHM.
When you determine what you’ll be doing for a business from home, it’s good to create a system just like you would if you worked at a job. Have a system in place that helps you keep track of what you need to do each day in order to earn the income you want to earn.
5. Have a Plan B
Sometimes emergencies happen so it’s good to have a plan B. You never know when you might need to rely on that backup plan, so the sooner you can have it mapped out (even if it’s just in your mind), the better.
If you thought you were going to put in 4 hours of work the day your three children come down with the flu, then you’re obviously going to have to put that off. The best way to create an effective Plan B is to come up with a list of 5 – 10 scenarios that are likely to pop up over the course of a few months, and then figure out what you’ll do in those events.
Here’s a simple list of events to consider when drafting your Plan B:
The kids get sick
You get sick
Your spouse gets sick
You lose power/internet access for more than 12 hours
The kids have an unexpected day off from school
An emergency comes up that requires you to be out of the house during your most productive working hours
You go on vacation
A work/client project ends up taking more than twice as long as you’d planned
You need to take a mental health day
You suddenly have more work than you can adequately tackle by yourself
If you build out a just-in-case plan for those, or similar, scenarios and add a little buffer to every deadline you create, you’ll be able to switch over to a Plan B seamlessly and without any undue stress.
6. Schedule Everything
Use a good calendaring system to schedule everything including work and family time. Google Calendar is a great free, digital option, especially since it can be shared with family members or clients/team members as your business grows. If you prefer an old-fashioned paper planner, the Erin Condren LifePlanner is my favorite option! Both of these options are ideal for time blocking as well. (Yes, I’m mentioning time blocking again. Obviously it’s one of my favorite systems for WAHM success!)
If you want to have lunch with your girlfriends on Tuesday at 2pm for a couple of hours – schedule it.
If you want to spend the morning with your daughter watching movies – schedule it.
Date night with your husband? Schedule it!
Everything from cooking meals, to laundry, and all that you do – schedule it in and add in some extra time to make up for errors or unexpected delays.
7. You’re Not Martha Stewart
And you know what? That is absolutely, 100% okay!
Honestly, Martha Stewart isn’t even Martha Stewart! She has an entire staff to help her be amazing. If you don’t yet have that staff, let some things go. You do not need a Pinterest-perfect life in order to have a thriving business and family.
It is okay if your house isn’t the neatest one on the block. It’s okay if the laundry sometimes sits in baskets for a few days. It’s even okay if you sometimes opt for cereal for dinner.
When you are transitioning from SAHM to WAHM, you need to offer yourself a little grace. Ask the family to pitch in when and where they can, and for their understanding when things don’t get done. And then just let everything else go. Trust me…it will be okay!
8. Take Time For YOU
Do you know what the most crucial aspect of your work-at-home business or career is? Y. O. U. Yep, that’s right — YOU are the primary key to your success. And as such, taking care of yourself needs to be a top priority.
I get it. Us moms are used to putting our own needs last. Trust me; I speak from years of experience here.
However, when you are on the journey to transition from SAHM to WAHM, you absolutely must take time to focus on you.
Some of the things you need to make priority in your self-care routine include:
time for physical activity (even just a 10 minute walk around the block can do wonders!)
time to relax and recharge
time to enjoy being with your spouse and kids
Remember, you can not pour from an empty cup. That includes pouring into your family AND your business.
9. Commit to Staying Laser Focused
Avoiding shiny object syndrome is important when you work for yourself at home. It’s easy to get your mind turned onto the next big thing instead of focusing on the business or career you decided to start. Make it a practice to only devote about 5% (or less) of your working hours to new ideas outside of your chosen industry or niche.
10. Get the Family Involved
The transition from SAHM to WAHM requires an adjustment period for everyone in your household. It can be difficult for your spouse and kids to adjust to the new roles and your lessened availability at all hours. This is especially true when you spend long hours in front of your computer creating products or performing services for your clients.
You might find that your family is just as excited about this new journey as you are and that they want to find a way to be included or involved in your work. If that’s the case, be thankful for that incredible good fortune and find a way to maximize and leverage their desire.
If they can’t help you directly with work, as is frequently the case, ask them to help with household duties. You can pay your children a larger allowance now that you are earning an income. It also helps to help everyone on board with an understanding of the big picture. Your family is a team and every member of the team functions at a higher performance level when you all work together!
11. Accept Your Children’s Ages
When you have children under 4 years old, it can much harder to schedule time for working a business without childcare help of some kind. If you are not in a position where some kind of childcare assistance is available, take heart! There are absolutely still ways you can successfully grow your work-at-home career or business. You just might need to get a little creating and think outside of the box a bit.
One way to do this is to recognize the periods of margin in your day and focus on really maximizing those periods of time. Consider any timeframe where you can squeeze in 15 minutes of dedicated work time as a period of margin. Some times where you can frequently find margin include:
Getting up before the kids are up
After the kids go to bed
During nap time
While the kids are occupied close by
When your spouse or an older sibling can step in
While in the school pick-up line
When you have school-aged kids, sometimes you’ll feel like they require more time and attention than a 2 year old. And unfortunately, working your schedule around theirs is not always as easy as hiring a baby-sitter. That just means you might need to get creative with your time management and scheduling some days.
12. Make Your Office Child Friendly
If you’re fortunate enough to have dedicated office space that does not also do double duty as a kitchen table (or similar), consider yourself incredibly blessed! Many work-at-home moms start their SAHM to WAHM journey fitting in an “office” wherever there is a clean space to sit with their laptop or computer.
But if you are in that lucky group of moms who can start building their work-at-home businesses with a permanent office area, make sure that you set it up to be a friendly and welcoming environment for your family, especially if you have kids at home during the day.
You really can’t expect your children to stay out of your office at all times. It’s just not realistic for a family. Instead, make the office child friendly by making it safe and also welcoming. For example, you might put a playpen in the office with toys for your toddler to play in safely while you work.
13. Don’t Be Afraid to Set (and Enforce) Boundaries
This applies to both your business and your family/personal life!
If you start setting and enforcing boundaries from the very start, you will be in a much better place than someone who doesn’t. Take it from someone who knows what they’re talking about! When I transitioned from SAHM to WAHM, I made the mistake of not having firm boundaries in place and suffered the repercussions for several years until I finally got serious.
I managed to set firm boundaries with my family. They knew that I was not to be disturbed if I was on a phone call or video conference with a client. Likewise, they knew that 9pm – 12am each day was set aside as dedicated work time. They also knew that Saturday mornings from 7am – 11:30am were dad time so that I could get out of the house and go to the library or a coffee shop to work for a few hours from a different environment.
However, I failed to set the same types of boundaries for myself and with my clients. Conference calls would invariably overlap with our dinner hour, or I’d agree to a client deadline that I knew would mean staying up until 3am for a week. That is the quickest path to burnout and family aggravation.
So, before you get too far into your work-at-home journey, have some real talk with everyone involved in your business – your family, your clients and yourself! Make sure you have those firm boundaries in place right from the start.
14. Understand That Some Days Will Be Better Than Others
Being a work-at-home mom is not all sunshine and rainbows! Sure, there will be days when you cross every item off of your to-do list, you sign a new client or make 10 new sales, and you manage to get a delicious dinner on the table on time.
Those are unicorn days, so enjoy each one for the majestic wonder that it entails!
You’re much more likely to experience days where you only get 3 things crossed off of your to-do list and the kids are still alive at the end of the day.
But you know what? Those days deserve to be celebrated just as much because they mean that you are still moving forward.
Good days, bad days, majestic unicorn days… they are all par for the course! Understand and accept that from the outset and you’ll do yourself a huge favor.
15. Set Goals For Yourself
I’m willing to bet that your decision to go from being a SAHM to being a WAHM has some reasons behind it beyond just killing time, right? So treat it as such!
And one of the best ways to do that is to set some real goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to go after big goals either. Push yourself – you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.
You’ve heard it before… if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.
So, dream big dreams and set big goals. You are embarking on a journey to change your life and your family’s life.
Creating the life of your dreams starts with a dream! Here’s to embarking on your SAHM to WAHM journey equipped for success.
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