How to Successfully Transition from Teacher to Work at Home Mom

Transitioning from classroom teacher to work at home mom is tough! You need to make sure you have a solid understanding of exactly what your new position is and what you need to accomplish each day. This will help you set realistic goals and better define your role to your spouse or significant other so that you are both on the same page.

So to help you do this I want to warn you of some potential pitfalls that you can avoid when transitioning from teacher to work at home mom to make this transition as smooth as possible.

But before we dig into those, I want to take a quick second and define what a “Work at Home Mom” is in this particular context. (Just consider this my obligatory disclaimer.)

When I use the phrase work at home mom, I’m referring to a mom who works for money while at home. This could be working as a virtual assistant, working for a company, or working as an entrepreneur. The job you do is irrelevant; the point is that you are making an income from the job you are completing at home.

The reason I define it this way is because as a former stay at home mom, I know how much work it is, and I consider every SAHM a working mom. However, for this particular podcast episode, I’m using the phrase “work at home mom” to describe someone who works at home for money.

So now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the 6 potential pitfalls you will most likely encounter as you transition from teacher to work at home mom and how to avoid them!

Transitioning from Teacher to Work at Home Mom

Acknowledge that you won’t have as much time as you think

One of the hardest things for me when transitioning from teacher to work at home mom was figuring out how to get everything done with kids running around. At first, I was flustered with myself because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accomplishing TONS of stuff each day.

It wasn’t until I took a long, hard look at what my day actually involved that I became aware of how much time I spent bouncing back and forth between work tasks, kid tasks, and home tasks. Of course this may not seem like that big of a deal. You think, “Just go do the thing and then jump back into work mode!”  But this is a lot harder than you might think.

When we jump from work task to mom task, we lose momentum and focus. That’s why it takes us a solid 10 minutes once we sit back down at our desk to figure out where we left off and what we were doing. That is why it is super-important for you to understand and acknowledge that you aren’t going to have as much time to work as your empty planner or schedule might indicate.

How to Avoid this Pitfall: Be willing to work in weird pockets of time as your schedule allows. Consider working during non-traditional times like before your child wakes up each morning or after bedtime. These aren’t guaranteed because no child is ever on an exact schedule, but deciding on these times in advance will help you stay in a routine of work and being a mom.

Realize the lines will get blurred when you’re at home

First of all, let’s just acknowledge that if you have young children (or possibly teenagers) at home, they think the world revolves around them. Thus, seeing you at home is confusing. In their minds, you should be able to talk, play, and attend to every need post haste! But now all of a sudden you’re telling them you can’t.

So let’s take a moment to look at why this is tricky for kids…and quite frankly, for us as well. 

You finish a big “work” task and decide to take a quick break. While on said break, you throw in a load of laundry before noticing the trashcan is overflowing.

After taking out the trash, you obviously need to wash your hands, but when you get to the sink, there are dirty  dishes that need to be washed. Since your hands are already dirty, you might as well throw them in the dishwasher really quickly.

Once you finally get your hands washed and sit back at your desk, you’ve spent 30 minutes away from your work tasks. Does this remind you of a certain series of books based on a mouse and a sweet treat? 

So let’s return to your child. He sees you doing all the regular mom things, and determines you’re in need of a break, which is fortuitous for him because it means you need some play time.

But now that you’ve realized 30 minutes has gone by (and at this point you are starting to push 45), you’re feeling behind and a little frantic to get back to work.

So you tell your child you can’t play and he decides a temper tantrum is what you need to change your mind. Now you’re completely flustered because you’ve been away from your work for over 45 minutes, you have no idea when you are going to be able to get back to it, and you’re basically questioning all of your life choices.

See how that can be confusing.

How to Avoid this Pitfall: Define what work you need to do during work time and stick to it! Make sure you have a specific workspace, whether that is an office area or a designated space in your home. Explain to your kids that when mommy is at her workspace she is working. This helps set a boundary that kids can understand, but also may not choose to acknowledge.

Then try to stay in your office or workspace only when you are working, so your kids begin to see a pattern. If you have to leave, try to be as invisible as possible because as soon as your child sees you, work time is over…and she will need 73 things from you immediately! 

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Accept that nap time is not a given

Ahhhhhh, naptime. If you have small children at home, you know what I’m talking about. No matter how much you love your kids, naptime is a few minutes of quiet and the potential to get ahead in your work. (But let’s be honest and admit that you are most likely just trying to get caught up.)  So you keep eyeing the clock knowing that naptime is well on its way and you’re mentally preparing for the naptime hustle.

Little do you know, your child has a surprise for you. She has no intention of taking a nap, and she is preparing to add the “non-nap krankies” to the end of the day, just for fun!

If you’ve EVER tried to plan a task around nap time, you’ve learned this difficult truth; but we desperately cling to the idea that the stars will align and suddenly you’ll have ample time to complete a pending project. 

But here’s the reality.

When you start to depend on nap time as mandatory work time, you’re going to be super-frustrated. Trust me when I tell you it never fails that when you need time to complete an important task or project, your child will choose that exact moment in time to boycott naps. When you NEED extra work time, even the most routine sleeper will be off her schedule.

How to Avoid this Pitfall: Shift your mindset and understand that nap time is a fairly regular occurrence, but it isn’t a guarantee. When you start viewing nap time as an “extra” work opportunity instead of essential work time, you will be so much less irritated. And I know it’s much easier said than done, but I promise if you adjust your thinking in this way, you will have a more peaceful day.

Recognize that you aren’t perfect & you will make mistakes

This is a topic I could basically spend my entire life talking about and never truly cover everything there is to say here. But let me suffice it to say this…give yourself grace.

You can only do so much. You have 24 hours in a day and if you’re like most people, you could work on your “to do” list items for 24 hours straight every single day and still never complete all the things.

Allow yourself to mess up and fail sometimes knowing that this is just a part of the human experience. The only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus Christ, and since you and I are nowhere near perfect, we have to be willing to admit our mistakes and move on.

If you’re anything like me, you make mistakes daily…if not hourly. So the sooner you acknowledge this fact, the easier it will be to pick yourself up after a mistake.

Understand that you will…

  • get frustrated because your child is sick and that will impede you from meeting certain deadlines.
  • let your kid(s) have more screen time than you ever intended because sometimes you just have to get work done.
  • go through the drive thru for dinner even though you’ve been at home all day because you were occupied with kids who refuse to nap and therefore, you forgot to take food out of the freezer. 
  • feel guilty for…basically everything.

Just because you are no longer working outside of your home doesn’t mean the mom guilt goes away; it just seems to shift. But you can alleviate some of the mom guilt by giving yourself grace and acknowledging that you aren’t perfect but you can apologize when you need to.

How to Avoid this Pitfall: Review the things you accomplished each day (even if they seem small and completely inconsequential) and celebrate them! Then take 10 minutes to write down the tasks you need to complete this week. Being able to reflect on the day and make a plan for the next day will help you acknowledge the things you did accomplish while being realistic about the essential tasks you still have left.

Understand that boundaries can make or break you

One of the hardest words I’ve ever learned to say is “no.”  Now, my kids would strongly disagree with this statement because they would swear that this was the only word in my vocabulary; but I’m not referring to telling them no. I’m talking about telling other people no when they ask you to do something.

When I became a work at home mom, I struggled with my ability to say no to others. I figured that if I was at home, I had more ability to “leave” my work to meet the needs of others. And while working from home as an entrepreneur does give me massive amounts of freedom, I was giving other people the right to monopolize my time.

So I had to put up specific boundaries on my time…but this wasn’t an easy process.

Before I could tell others no, I had to acknowledge that I was the one saying yes and therefore, I was authorizing them to take my time from me. But once I realized what was happening, I began fiercely protecting my work time because if I don’t work, nothing gets done.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve put a variety of systems and automations in place to assure certain parts of my business are on auto-pilot. However, there are certain things I MUST do in real time to keep my business moving forward and growing. Thus I have assigned very defined boundaries and determined the nonnegotiables in my business and my life.

How to Avoid this PitfallWhether you work from home for someone or for yourself, you need to set up boundaries on your time and decide which things are non-negotiable in your own life and business. Then be ready to say no if something comes up that will encroach on that time. I know it isn’t easy, but if you want to be able to continue to be a work at home mom, you need to be able to say no.

Be willing to ask for help when you need it

As women and moms, we do what needs to be done. Many times we don’t even think through things before we do them because they just have to get accomplished. Things like feedings and meals, diaper changes and toilet training, naps, discipline, and the list goes on infinitely.

Being a stay at home mom is a corporate-level full-time job. But then when you add working from home to the mix, you need to be willing and prepared to ask for help. Whether that means your kids attend preschool or daycare a few days a week or you hire a babysitter, a nanny, or a family member to come watch the kids for a while, you need to get work done.

Asking for help after you transition from teacher to work at home mom doesn’t make you weak or incapable; it actually does quite the opposite. It proves you are wise as you begin to recognize your own limitations and seek out those who can help you become more efficient.

How to Avoid this PitfallTo bypass this potential pitfall, you can hire someone to help you with the kids for a few hours each day or each week. Having someone else take that responsibility from you for a specific amount of time will help you accomplish more in less time.

If this isn’t an option for you, just understand that the lines between work and home are going to get a bit blurred and you’ll essentially be wearing two hats at the same time…mom and employee or entrepreneur. Acknowledging this fact will be a HUGE factor in being successful as a work at home mom.

Transitioning from teacher to work at home mom was one of the hardest things I have ever done because it forced me to take a long hard look at my own weaknesses. But it also has given me a freedom I never would have found by remaining in the classroom.

Regardless of the type of career you choose to pursue, you need to understand that working from home isn’t easy. And while I would NEVER want to dissuade you from making the leap from teacher to work at home mom, I want you to be armed with the knowledge you need to be successful.

Because the truth is, most meaningful things aren’t easy, but they sure are worth it! And while transitioning from the classroom may be more difficult than you originally anticipated, it is 100% worth the struggle.

Because one day you will be past the hard part and looking at a bright future you get to choose!!