“Work at home moms got the life,” they say. “It’s soooo awesome being home all day in your pajamas!”, they say. “What do you do all day?”, they say.
Yea, they say a lot. And only about 1/3 of it is true. The truth is that, until you become a work at home mom, you have no idea what it’s going to be like for your specific situation. Every person is different and every family is different. Working from home could be a walk in the park for you or it could be even more complicated than your office job.
When I first joined the work at home mom club, I found myself torn between “This is AMAZING” and “Oh, you want me to play with you? Sure, buddy – let’s go to the park!” It was rough trying to stay focused on working when I had my preschooler home with me wanting to snuggle and play all day.
Then when he was off to school for full days and weeks, I started having more time for work but less time for myself, my comfort, and my sanity.
I’ve been working at home now for close to three years now and have only recently figured out exactly what I need to thrive, not just in my business but also in my personal life. Here’s what I think are absolute necessities for work at home moms, no matter what kind of work you’re going to do:
*This post was originally posted on March 22nd, 2019 and has been updated on March 27th, 2020.
**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that I’ll get a small commission on purchases made using the links at no additional cost to you. I only share products and services I truly believe will benefit my audience.
1. A comfy desk area.
Although there are several places work at home moms can work if you’re not tied to the phone for your job, you might still prefer your desk. I do most of the time, mainly because it’s where I have everything I need to work. My planner, my pens, my paperwork – it’s all right there.
Your desk has to be comfortable. I’m not talking just an okay swivel chair and an ergonomic mouse. The whole setup should have comfort written all over it because there’s a lot of sitting involved in most work at home jobs. The last thing you want is to strain your neck from a monitor that’s too low or a sore bottom and back from an uncomfortable chair.
What to Add to Your Office Space
Here are a few things to consider in your office area:
A gel mousepad with a place for your wrist to rest as you use it. Bonus if you find one like this gorgeous one to the right that also comes with a wrist pad for your typing hands!
A wireless, contoured mouse that also is super responsive to save your hand, wrist, and arm from making big movements. I love wireless mouses because you can bring them with you when you work on your laptop and you don’t have to worry about tangling cords at your desk area. I’ve personally had great luck with the Logitech mouse shown in the picture to the left.
An ergonomic keyboard, like the one to the right, that lets your hands do what they have to do at the computer in a more natural position. It’ll probably take time to get used to this setup, but it’ll give your wrists more of the support they need to avoid pain.
A lumbar-supportive chair that cradles your back in just the right spots to keep pressure off your bottom and spinal cord. The one to the left is technically a gaming chair, but it has everything us work at home moms need for comfort.
The right-sized desk that’s literally perfect for your body shape and height. That means that you should take time to review its measurements before buying it. If you’re purchasing in-store, you can try out a floor model. If you purchase online, grab the desk’s measurements and visit a store to try out a desk similar to those measurements. You should be able to sit comfortably at it without feeling like you need to stretch your arms down or reach up too high to type naturally. There are all kinds of desks out there in various sizes and shapes, but I love this one from Tracey Boyd.
Silence is golden when you work from home. If you’re someone who likes to work with relaxing music playing in the background, that’s totally fine. I’m talking more about being free from distractions like hubby talking on the phone, the kids playing on their toy keyboards, and the dog barking at everyone who walks by.
I know how tough it is to get the peace and quiet you need, though. That’s why, if you don’t have a separate room for your office, you should consider a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
This pair from Naztech are gorgeous and comfortable enough for all-day use.
3. Exercise equipment.
I can’t possibly emphasize enough how important exercise is for people who work at a desk all day. Well, exercise is important for everyone. But it’s even more important when you don’t have a job that requires you to be on your feet or walking around a lot. Not only that, but it’s crucial to your sanity as a mom and businesswoman.
Over the past two years is when I first started to become really serious about my well-being. I noticed such a change in my body after my first year of freelancing. I felt more tired, low-energy, and just blah. So, I started weaving in as much exercise as I could during the day. I’m now to the point where I wake up earlier to make sure I get 30-60 active minutes of exercise in.
The point is to stay moving, even if you can only afford 5 minutes each hour. It gets your blood pumping and your brain refocused. Every day, I walk outside or use my Weslo Cadence treadmill (seriously one of the best purchases I’ve ever made). I pair my walks with these Amazon Basics weights for a little extra resistance and calorie burning. Then, I add in some yoga (SO GOOD for stress relief), jogging, or a free HIIT workout from YouTube for variation.
4. Eye-saving eyewear.
I’ve had some issues with my eyes for years now. Being in front of a computer screen all day definitely hasn’t helped them. I’ve had more eye strain and headaches since switching to a computer-focused job. My sleep pattern has also suffered a bit on days when I’ve had to work later into the evening than usual.
Research shows that blue light can affect our sleep patterns and our alertness the next day. Ouch.
Please don’t skip out on an eye exam if you notice that you’re having more frequent headaches or pain or discomfort with your eyes. You might need glasses or, if you wear glasses, you might need a prescription adjustment.
Once you do get your prescription figured out, you can head to Pixel Eyewear and pick out a new set of stylish frames. Pixel Eyewear has both prescription and non-prescription lenses that filter out 50% of blue light to save those precious eyeballs. You’re welcome.
There’s nothing like a messy desk or a scattered brain to make your brain go haywire instead of keeping it focused for work. Your home is full of distractions already (even when the kids aren’t home), so there’s no need to add to the chaos with more disorder.
My first go-to for better organization is my planner. Every year, I invest in a good planner that has everything I need to stay on track with my blog and my client work. The Content Planner is probably the best of the best in my book. There are monthly spreads to help you plan everything at a glance plus goal setting and daily content planning to keep you in check. Keep that bad boy front-and-center on your desk and you’ll never feel scatter-brained again.
A filing system is also a necessity, even if you just use a couple of collapsible organizers with folders. They’re perfect for keeping random papers off your desk and sorted into where they need to go.
6. A good coffeemaker.
Yea, it’s cliché, and no, I don’t care. I love my coffee. Most mamas I know do too. So do yourself a favor and get a coffeemaker you can fall in love with. I will never, ever, ever give up my Keurig K-Compact. It’s super easy to use and brews fast, which is great when I’m in constant go-go-go mode.
Oh, and don’t forget some cute mugs to go with it, like these:
And, for convenience, get yourself a coffee subscription to go with your new machine. I use Keurig’s auto-shipments to bring me new pods every 10 weeks. You can choose your frequency and coffee types and skip or pause shipments whenever you need to.
7. A laptop to switch things up.
Whether you enjoy taking your work outside the home on occasion or you just want the freedom to work from your cozy bed once in a while, a laptop will help. I go to the library, work outside on my porch, or snuggle up in my bed with a movie while I work, just for something different. I like having options. And, sometimes, a change of scenery is all it takes to give you a little refresh.
A couple of years ago, I bought this Hewlett-Packard laptop and it’s perfect. It’s just the right size and weight to be conveniently portable and it does everything I need it to do. It even has up to 2TB of disk space, too, which is plenty for most people.
8. A reliable charging station.
As a work at home mom, I find that I use my phone a lot more than I ever have. If I’m away from my computer, I’ll use my phone to check and respond to emails, connect with followers on my social media channels, and talk to clients. My battery goes down fast some days, which is why I’m in love with my wireless charging station that sits right by my desk to give my phone a boost when I’m not using it.
I have the Ultimate Wireless Desk Charger™ by Fiora. It’s a small square that takes up barely any space in my small desk area. I keep it plugged into my computer tower’s USB port so it’s always ready to go. Then, I just place my phone on top when it needs a charge and it’s ready to go. No more trying to track down a cord or plug in my phone in another room to charge when I don’t have an outlet nearby. I can even pack it with me when I work somewhere else and plug it into my laptop.
9. A flexible schedule.
Having at least a somewhat flexible schedule is best for a work at home job, although I know it’s not a possibility with all jobs. If possible, negotiate hours with your employer to have a schedule that works with your family. Otherwise, you’ll feel overwhelmed when you try to juggle it all.
10. Good friendships (Bonus if you have a work at home mom bestie!).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about how to be a work from home mom, it’s that you’ll burn yourself out if you don’t have good friendships. You’re going to be inside the walls of your home a lot. It’s a big change from working a typical job where you can socialize with others.
It’s always important to have good friendships as a mom that you can turn to when you need guidance or a shoulder to cry on. But it’s even more necessary for a work at home mom who can swiftly become isolated from others.
What do you consider necessities as a work at home mom? Let me know down in the comments!
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.