Adjusting work at home schedules when the unexpected strikes

High angel of a chaotic living roomI had a pretty rough week last week! Migraines got the better of me, as did some heat exhaustion. When the unfortunate happens, as a work at homemaker, I need to make adjustments. I wrote a post about this previously on my other blog, but I thought I’d re-share it here this time for the WAHMderful readers. I hope it helps you, when you have your own unexpected turn of events.

We had to have some plumbing repairs done today, at very short notice. All is well now: Our bathroom sink no longer leaks, but we do need a new paint job on one of our walls. Naturally, my work-at-home day was affected by this unexpected event. For me, this meant rearranging my schedule to accommodate the plumber, including cooking extra for him since he’d be spending almost the entire day knocking down part of our wall, fixing the pipes and re-cementing the portion he’d opened up.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I know there will be more unexpected events in the future, like a family member getting sick or the fridge breaking down.

1. Re-prioritize your to-do list based on your new day.

When your day gets mixed up by the unexpected, just breathe and re-plan your day again. Here’s how you can re-work your to-do list when there’s something extra to add to it.

  • Put the big stones in first: Do the most important tasks at the start of the day: Make meals ahead of time, see if someone can watch your kid (either hire them, or ask a family member), re-schedule your workflow. Leave the clean-up and chores for later, when you’ve gotten the important things done right.
  • Learn to juggle: See what two things can be done at the same time. I did this a lot today: During breakfast, I multitasked checked and responded to client emails while helping my son feed himself. What tasks can you do simultaneously yet efficiently? Carry them out.
  • Share responsibilities: Since my husband also works from home, he and I usually take turns caring for our son. Today, there was just more of it for the both of us, since we had to observe the plumbing work in progress and still tend to our son. Also, since our cleaning lady unexpectedly fell sick, we had to share the cleaning duties as well. The key here is to make it work, not complain, and just go with your day’s natural flow

2. Work smartly.

Here’s how to work more smartly on both your job and the housework, when the unexpected happens:

  • Re-work your assignments: I lost about two hours monitoring the six-hour plumbing job we had today. So I scheduled some work for after my son goes to bed. Not my cup of tea, but I figured the peace and quiet will help me catch up on that postponed project.
  • Postpone certain tasks: What can wait? Maybe you can postpone a project for a day and return to it when you’re more focused on the task. This may need to happen if you have to tend to a sick loved one, or if you need to, like me, monitor some professional work being done in your home.
  • Buy yourself extra time: Right after breakfast, before the plumber arrived, I made a big batch of stew for both lunch and dinner. I normally do this on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. However, since I needed to buy myself more time, I cooked more food so that I’d be freed up between 2PM-5PM to work. I usually only work until 4, but I needed an extra hour to catch up with work, since time got eaten up cleaning after the plumbing work and making sure my son was occupied (and not nosing about the area where the plumbing was being repaired!).

3. Make your Plan B before the unexpected happens.

It’s a good idea to backup plan as well if you’re a work-at-home mom or dad–like us. A “Plan B” is a ready-to-run action plan that considers both your work and your regular tasks as a home maker. Some of the things you might need to work into your “Plan B” are the following:

  • Agree with your spouse on responsibilities. My husband and I have this down pat. When something unexpected happens, like today’s plumbing dilemma, or when the cleaning lady can’t make it, we don’t let it spoil our day. We’ve got a system in place: I’ll do the general cleaning of the house and bathrooms, he’ll do the dishwashing and the laundry. It saves us both headaches and playing the blame game! (Note: This is a great marriage tip, too!)
  • Make a list of potential carers. These are people who can help you out when an unexpected event arises. You can tap relatives, neighbors or sitters who can watch your kid. Have a list of cleaning ladies and services on-hand so you can schedule the cleaning.
  • Cook ahead of time. Make ready-to-eat meals and freeze them for days when you’re too busy to cook. This way, you don’t have to worry about not having time to make a nutritious meal, even when the unexpected strikes. Visit Good Cheap Eats for some budget-friendly ideas on freezer cooking for the family.

When the unexpected strikes, just be calm and see how to best manage your day while fitting in the extra jobs. Your day will look different from mine, but you’ll know how best to manage it.

How do you manage when the unexpected happens?

This post originally appeared on Dainty Mom.

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