Before I had a child of my own, I’d hear friends with kids talk about having to plan things around their kids’ “schedule.” Nothing was more important than the schedule. I’d roll my eyes later and wonder to my husband what the big deal was if the kid went to bed past their bedtime or missed a nap. My husband also thought it sounded crazy. When WE had kids, we would be flexible and go with the flow and still do things when we wanted.
Fast forward several years and I am definitely eating those words. Oh, the things I thought weren’t important before I had kids, like a schedule. Because now I know if you miss that first hour for naptime, it is so much harder to get them down for a nap, and then they go to bed late, but oh! They still wake up in the morning (or middle of the night) at roughly the same time…but crabbier. Mess with the schedule a few times and you quickly understand why parents are strict about it.
Our household isn’t super strict about the schedule – if there is a fun evening event going on, or there are relatives in town that might disrupt nap schedules, or if we’re on vacation, the schedule gets thrown out the window for a day or two, but…
For most days, being able to count on when my daughter is going to wake up, nap, and go to bed at night is vital to my sanity as a work at home mom (WAHM) – and is probably vital to my sanity just as a mom, period, but it’s taken up a notch when I know there are deadlines and projects I have to work on when my daughter is sleeping.
Here are five reasons having a schedule is so important as a WAHM.
Guaranteed Nap Time
Ok, nothing with kids is a guarantee, but my daughter rarely refuses to nap if I get her down at a consistent time. Once she switched to one nap a day, she usually naps for at least two hours and I can get a lot done during that time for work if I stay focused and put together a to-do list the night before…and, ahem, not fall asleep, which has been known to happen! Which is why I recommend doing work in an office or at the kitchen table and not the bed or couch.
Nighttime Work…and Sleep
By knowing what time my daughter goes to bed (and typically wakes up) I can plan out my nights to get work done after she goes asleep, or simply recharge on the couch with the remote control and my husband. As a night owl, it’s also good to know when she’ll be waking up so I can force myself to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep (or, in those baby days, as much sleep as possible!).
Easier for Nanny Scheduling or Other Care Options
If your young child is on a consistent schedule, it’s easier to know when to arrange a nanny to come each week (if you’ll be hiring one) so you can be sure to time it when your child is NOT napping. Since I’m also at home when the nanny is here, I don’t want to be paying someone to babysit the monitor. Our nanny has been a great fit and comes for seven to eight hours each week, divided up into two days per week. She’s in college so each semester we’d rework the days and hours she came if needed depending on her class schedule and if my daughter’s naptime was starting to change. Which seems to happen every four to six months for about the first three years. (And more frequently during the first six months.) On the occasion a nap did overlap when our nanny was here, she’d usually clean out the dishwasher or sweep the kitchen.
In addition, by knowing my daughter has a consistent schedule, I can take advantage of other childcare options if I’m having a particular busy week, like having a teenage baby-sitter in the neighborhood come over after school, or taking advantage of the daycare option of the gym I go to (most gyms have free wi-fi and a seating area).
Your Mama Tribe Knows Your Schedule
I’ll talk about the importance of having a mama tribe as a WAHM in another post, but let’s just say that I would not be as happy or as successful without their support and being able to see and talk to them on a regular basis. Because our schedule stays fairly consistent, my local mom friends who are also at home during the day know when my daughter is napping, what mornings my nanny is around, and what time we usually start our day. This means when we’re texting to figure out when to meet up, they are already working plans around our schedule (just as I do with theirs). It makes it easier to meet up regularly, and getting out of the house for some socializing is very important to my happiness as a SAHM who works from home. My daughter loves regular time with her little toddler friends, too.
Easier to Schedule Client Calls
If a client needs to schedule a call with me on a day my nanny isn’t coming, I can first throw out times when I know my daughter will be napping. In a pinch, I’ve scheduled calls at other times and crossed my fingers she would watch Daniel Tiger quietly, but I much, much, much prefer to do them during nap time, or even early in the morning if the client is on a time zone ahead of me.
Those are my top five reasons for sticking to a schedule when you’re a WAHM, but as everything with parenthood, some weeks a schedule is just not going to stick no matter how much you try. On those days, I say embrace the chaos and get out of the house and, yes, you might be losing sleep that night catching up on some work, but hey – you’re a mom, you’re used to going (and going and going) without sleep, right? 😉
To read about some adventures I’ve done with my daughter when we get out of the house before naptime or even during naptime on occasion, you might enjoy these blog posts: