• Jennifer Graham

5 Tips to Work From Home With a Special Needs Child

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

I’ve been a special needs mom for 18 years. My daughter, Megan, has Down syndrome. Her diagnosis when she was born was a shock. I was devastated.

Work From Home Mom

I had to take a step back from my own arrogance and come to terms with the fact that I had a different child. It took me a couple of weeks, but as I took care of her like a regular infant, I bonded with her and learned an unconditional love that so many people in our world are lacking.

I became a work from home mom 3 years ago. Yes, I was a late starter. When Megan was little, I spent my time in corporate America, moving from job to job because I would have to take too much time off for therapies, specialists, doctor visits, etc. I eventually landed a lucrative job which allowed me the time off, but I had to travel and hire a nanny. I had someone else raising my child with special needs. The guilt was overwhelming. Wasn’t I the one who should be raising her? Teaching her everything I can so she can become the person she’s meant to become?

All that changed when I met my husband. He didn’t like the travel and we decided I would become a stay at home mom. I soon got pregnant and it was a high risk pregnancy, so that meant bed rest and loneliness. All my kids were in school, so I was home by myself. I would watch sappy love song videos and cry my eyes out. It was not my best moments. But after Riley was born, I learned that being a stay at home mom was awesome and I truly regretted all the time I had missed with Megan as she was growing up. It’s not like I had a choice, or did I?

Being a work from home mom changed my whole life. It has given me so much confidence in all areas of my life. Especially in my relationships. I am a better mom, wife, daughter, friend. I am a confident business owner who makes her own hours, decisions and dreams without limits.

Tip Number 1: Build a Permanent Work Space

You need a place to work. I turned my dining room into my office. Granted, I share it with my 9 year old. I mean, what 9 year old doesn’t need their own office? She has her side and I have mine. We just put up a white board for me to use in my business and she uses it to play school. Having a permanent work space is necessary form a work from home mom.

It’s also a tax write off. My space, my laptop, my copier, I can write them all off. Having a designated place to work puts me in the right frame of mind to actually WORK, which is important if you want to have success. Being a boss means acting like one, you are the CEO of your own virtual franchise.

Tip Number 2: Set Work Hours

Being a work from home mom, I had to decide when I was going to work. What would my hours be? Don’t stress yourself out thinking you don’t have time. There are time management skills you can learn where you can get a ton done in 15 minute increments. And once the kids go to bed, skip the TV and work your business. If you are thinking of building on the internet, the evening is a great time to connect with others because they are at home on the internet.

My work hours are 8am-3pm, with time off for lunch. I take my dad out to lunch every day to get him out of the house. We are usually gone for an hour and a half. I also run my errands during that time, so sometimes we are gone longer. But see, my hours are flexible. Got a sick kid? I can work around taking care of them. The first thing I do in the morning is meditate. I learned from my mentor that this would be really helpful in my business. And I have to say, I love it. The next thing I do is personal development. I read books, watch videos, listen to my team training. I pour into myself to get me started on the right foot before digging into working my business. I have found doing it this way is really helpful being a work from home mom.

Tip Number 3: Take short breaks

I take breaks throughout my day. I don’t stack my appointments up where I’m stressing over making the next one on time. I give myself grace. Being a work from home mom, you need to give yourself grace. Taking small, short breaks gives you a sense of time freedom, which isn’t that the reason you want to be a work from home mom? Take a break to play with your kids, fix your lunch, take a shower, do the dishes.

When I take a break, I use my time to be on social media to check out what my friends are doing and comment and post on their posts. I like to engage with my friends. Who doesn’t like people to comment and like their posts? It feels good to know others like what you have going on. My work from home mom friends, I like to support them the most. Especially those with a child with special needs. These are my people, my tribe.

Tip Number 4: Discover your Peak Productivity Periods

Now, you’re a work from home mom with a child with special needs. They need the majority of your attention. But what about the times when you have that extra energy to put into your business. Is it when they are down for a nap or quiet time? Megan had quiet time on the weekends for years after she took naps. It gave us both a break from each other and time to regroup and refresh.

My peak productivity time is after lunch. It’s when I hit the ground running, having had a morning filled with personal development, research and to do lists for the day. If I need more than the time I have allotted for myself, my schedule is flexible enough that I can just keep going. The girls come home from school and they do their own thing. Riley and I have a set play time, unless she is too busy with friends to play with me.

Tip Number 5: Use a Planner

I live and die by my calendar on my iPhone. I put in all my appointments, phone calls, follow ups, vet appointments, kid appointments, my dad’s appointments, everything. It’s the first thing I look at after I meditate. It gives me a feel for my day and helps me prepare my to do list for the day, staying organized keeps you from feeling overwhelmed. And trust me, being a work from home mom can get that way if you don’t plan and prepare. This may sound hard, but it’s just about forming a habit, and once you form the habit, it’s easy.

What kind of planner should you use? That’s up to you, some like to write down in a calendar planner. I’ll admit, I have one of those at my desk. I don’t write in it, but I use it to look up dates and see what day a particular date is on. Being a work from home mom, I know it’s imperative to use some kind of calendar or planner to keep up with all you have going on. There are apps you can download, if you’re into that to keep you organized. I’ve played around with Calendy, but haven’t fully committed to it yet.

These are just 5 out of many tips out there for being a work from home mom. Doing it with a special needs child is just as possible as doing it with a “normal” child. It all depends on what you want to get out of working a business. I get to own something that is mine. I don’t have much that I can call my own, simply because I do and give everything to my kids. But this is different, this is where I gain my confidence from. I also have a supportive spouse.

My husband is fully on board with me being a CEO of a virtual franchise, and he supports me in all the decisions I make regarding my business. My dad is also a big supporter. He listens to me talk to people on the phone and always has positive comments after I’m done. If you don’t have a support system at home, you can find one online. The company you choose to work with should have a culture of supportive people you can surround yourself with who will lift you up.

Being a work from home mom really did change my life for the better. I am able to contribute to the household expenses, speak with people all over the world, learn about them and build relationships with them and make new friends. I also get to help people with any problems my business may be able to solve. It’s a great feeling! The best reward was taking a chance on myself and making that investment in me. I am worth it and so are you!

If you’re wondering how to get started, reach out. I’m happy to share my whole story and tell you how I got started. The fears I had to overcome and the new found time freedom I now enjoy, Sure, I could have stayed complacent and just spent my days waiting for my kids to come home, but I’m not that kind of stay at home mom. I need stimulation. I need people and relationships. I need something that’s mine, that I’m building and working toward goals and big dreams. I believe you can have that, too.

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