Work at Home Time Budgeting: What to Do When You Just Can’t Do It All + Printable

Time budgeting when you work from home: Something’s gotta give

Time budgeting is an elusive, tricky  balance for parents. As moms we often suffer from Supermom Syndrome…We think we can do all, be all, and manage all for everyone. It’s our job to keep everything running, for everyone, every time.

I suppose we’re wired that way to some degree. It’s a mom thing.

The reality is that there’s only one of us and only 24 hours in our day, no more, no less.

Because of that reality, we have to be realistic about what we can and can’t do. We have to be deliberate about time budgeting effectively because there’s only so much of it.

My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack - Tips and a free printable. My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack -

Dave Ramsey, a well-known financial teacher, has developed a widely used concept of financial management and budgeting. The basic idea is that you tell your money where to go rather than letting your money be the dictator of you. There’s some flexibility and common sense involved, but it’s all within certain spending/saving guidelines that you set for yourself. If you follow those guidelines, you’ll meet your financial goals much more quickly.


My suggestion is that as moms we consider using the same concept for more effective time management – a sort of time budgeting, if you will.

What if we start telling our time where to go instead of letting our circumstances be the dictator?

It’s not realistic to pay off a $100,000 loan in two months if our monthly income is $2,000.

In the same way, we can’t expect to singlehandedly:

work a 40-hour week at home

+ be full time stay at home mommy

+ sleep 8-9 hours a night

+ have a perfectly clean house with home-cooked meals

+ volunteer in PTA

+ host play dates three times a week

+ be taxi driver for everyone

+ grocery shopping

+ local moms group leader

+ whatever else comes along.

(Not to mention self-care or time to relax!)


That’s just not realistic. But we still try to do it all anyway.

The reality is that it’s a recipe for a stressed out, unhappy mama.

You know what that means. Unhappy mama = unhappy house.

In an interview recently with author Mary Byers, she told me, “Remember, you’re the therMOMeter in your house. If you’re stressed, your kids will pick up on it even though they may not be able to articulate or recognize it. When I’m stressed, I’m always able to trace their behavior back to me. We set the temperature of the home. If your business stress is causing family stress, that’s no fun. Have your antenna up and be very aware of how what you’re doing in your business is either helping or hurting.”

We have to be realistic about how much time we have. About what we can and can’t do.

We have to be honest – with ourselves first, then with others.

We have to stop being supermom because that will eventually fall apart.


We have to be realistic about effective time budgeting for our:


·         Obligations·         Responsibilities·         Commitments
·         Family/Friends·         Interruptions·         Circumstances
·         Self-care·         Priorities·         Availability



Think of yourself and your time like a pie.

There’s only so much of you to go around.

Your priorities and commitments have to all fit inside that pie.


It’s simple math. The more things you squeeze in, the smaller the pieces become.

Effective Time Management as Work at Home Moms -


When one thing takes more time, another piece is going to get smaller. When a new thing tries to squeeze in, something else has to shift or go away to make room for others.

The key is to be deliberate about the size of your pieces. You decide what priorities get a piece of your time, not the other way around.



First, let’s be realistic about what you can and can’t do.

  • Do you have an infant that cries 23 hours a day? (or seems like it)
  • Do you have a toddler that needs constant supervision? (If I wasn’t watching him every second, my little guy would climb anything!)
  • Do you spend an hour dropping off kids at three different schools in the morning, then four hours later have to make the same route to pick up?
  • Do you homeschool, have kids home from school during the summer, or have younger kids home all the time since they don’t go to school yet?
  • Do you have any built-in buffer time  between activities, or is it a constant mad rush from one to the next?

If your life includes any remote variation of the above, it may not be a realistic expectation to work 40 hours a week plus stay at home singlehandedly with your kids. (And have any quality of life or basic self-care like, you know, eating, sleeping, or bathing.) You might want to reconsider your time budgeting. Just sayin’.


That means it’s time to take a long hard look at your circumstances. Ask yourself (and your spouse, if you have one) a few questions (click here to grab them in a handy printable):Time budgeting printable: Exercises & questions to help you determine the best use of your time right now.

  1. Write out your daily routine and include an honest estimate of how long each activity takes.
  2. Under the current circumstances, what is a realistic number of hours I can work per week?
  3. How badly do we need my income? How much do I need to make?
  4. If I need to work more hours, what else needs to give to make it happen?
  5. Is there a way to cut back on hours (such as alter my pricing to offset working fewer hours? Raise my rates or offer packages instead of hourly?)
  6. Is there anything I can reasonably cut out of my schedule?
  7. What are the non-negotiables in my schedule? (These are the things you aren’t willing or able to cut out.)
  8. Are there areas where I can get help? (Maybe outsource some work, hire help with the house, trade off kid duty with your husband, swap babysitting with a friend, or hire a mom’s helper?)
  9. Are there things I can do on a project or package basis rather than hourly?
  10. Are there other ways of making money I should consider that would be more flexible with schedule (list things on Amazon, make crafts to sell, online tutoring, etc.)?

I’ve found that my husband and I have to revisit these questions every so often. Our circumstances change, the kids’ needs shift as they get older, and we set new goals as we meet old ones.

Your answers to the questions will be way different than mine, and they may even change every few months.


Once in a while we need to step back from the hamster wheel and evaluate our situation in light of our current season.Breathing Room for Moms: Making the Most out of Working at Home - VA Moms Network

  • If you have a colicky infant and a busy toddler, this may not be your season to work 40 hours a week. Or if you do need to work that much, maybe it’s time to consider getting some part time help.
  • If your kids are in school but you only have 4-5 hours while they’re gone, you need to evaluate how much you can work and when that’s going to happen. If you commit to 40 hours a week, when will you work? Weekends? Nights? Get up early? Those 40 hours have to fit somewhere, and something else has to give to make room.
  • Are you bringing in enough work to consider hiring a mother’s helper? Once in a while I hired a tween girl to come and play with my daughter while I worked for a couple of hours. She loved having a playmate, the tween loved getting babysitting experience and making a little money, and I could focus on my work in another room but still be available if she had questions.


Are you feeling spread too thin?

Do you need to step back and evaluate where your time is going?

Motherhood is very seasonal. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do everything you want this season. Your capacity for various tasks will shift as your family grows and changes.

There’s a new free printable in the Resource Library

to help you consider your time budgeting

Use this to evaluate your current season and time usage.

Is there anything you need to shift so you can enjoy your current season more? Share in the comments below!

Time budgeting printable: Exercises & questions to help you determine the best use of your time right now.

Know another work at home mom who could use some support?

Use the buttons to the left and share the WAHM love!


You might also like:

5 Mistakes I Made as a New Work at Home Mom - VA Moms Network9 Things I Wish They Told Me about being a Work at Home Mom -

Proven Tips: The Best Places I Have Found Virtual Clients -



Time Budgeting for Work at Home Moms: What to do when you can't do it all + free printable.



5 Mistakes I Made as a New Work at Home Mom

Mistakes go with the territory of motherhood, right? We all start out with this ideal picture of what a “good mom” does, looks like, acts like, and feels like. She always has her act together.

Then reality sets in. We realize some days we don’t have ANYthing together. We look (and act) like we just walked off the set of The Walking Dead. We feel overwhelmed and spread too thin.

Even on the hard days, you are enough.

Even on the hard days, you are enough. (Click photo to read more.)

I used to beat myself up with mom guilt – I shouldn’t work so much, I should be doing more of this or that with my kids, making more cutesy crafts with them, taking them to sensory-overload play places more often.

Then I got over it.

I’m a good mom. Not a perfect mom by any means – far from it. I still struggle to find a balance between work and family. But being a good mom doesn’t mean I have to do it all or have a Pinteresty afternoon every day.

I’ve learned to give myself grace when I forget to sign up for the PTA chili supper or didn’t see the note that my kid was supposed to take a water bottle to school yesterday.

Some days I even have to explain to my kids why I can’t do something or take them somewhere, and ask them to cut me some slack. They’re quite forgiving little people.

My kids know they are loved, they know they have a safe place to come to, and they’re learning to be considerate human beings in spite of my mistakes. (I know I’ll mess up anyway, so I’m also saving up for counseling when they’re older.)

It took me awhile to get to the point of being okay with an imperfect balance. That balance changes as my kids grow, so I have to allow myself to be flexible.

Before I got to that point of acceptance though, I made several mistakes as a new work at home mom:


1. Thinking I was a “stay at home mom” who worked on the side.

Both a SAHM and WAHM are great, but there’s a big difference between the two. I needed to realize, admit, and own the “Work at Home Mom” role to myself and others. (Full credit goes to Mary Byers and her book Making Work at Home Work for this light bulb moment!)

2. Trying to do it all and fit it all in.

I was trying to fit too many pieces into one pie and it just wasn’t working. Being a WAHM adds responsibilities that have to be taken into account when figuring my priorities. Sometimes other things have to give. I need to make a conscious decision of what those things are rather than letting it happen by default or letting other moms and their agendas decide for me.

3. Not setting clear boundaries between home and work.

I should have learned sooner to set a cutoff time for work and clients instead of letting them intrude any time into family stuff. Now I have a couple of hard rules for myself:

1) I don’t acknowledge or reply to work calls, texts, or emails on Sundays. Period. Owning that mental break has been good for me.

2) I’m never on the phone when I drop off or pick up kids from school. I like to look them in the eye and hear about their day. I want them to feel like they’re important to me. We’ve had some of the best conversations during those moments.

4. Not realizing how important it is to take care of myself, and then doing it without feeling selfish.5 Secrets Successful WAHMs Have Figured Out

I’m a much better mom and wife when I’ve taken a break to do something for myself, even if it’s just for a little bit.

5. Carrying around too much mom guilt.

For a long time I always had the feeling that I should be doing more for my kids, reading to them more (even though we already read for hours every day!), playing more, teaching them more, always more. But no matter how much more I did, it was never quite “enough.”

I finally accepted that I am one imperfect person who is doing the best I can at this mothering thing, and that has to be enough.


Mistakes are a part of life, but they don’t have to drag us down. It’s up to us if we want to use our mistakes to make ourselves better or to beat ourselves up. We’re so ingrained to avoid mistakes, but in reality that’s how we learn and grow best.


So fellow moms, I challenge you (and myself), instead of being afraid to make mistakes, why not be brave enough to make them and let them push us to something better?


“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.” -Unknown

What mistakes have you made in your WAH journey? Where do you need to give yourself some grace? Share in the comments below.

mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.


Looking for support

as you work from home with kids?

Join the network of other moms  

as we navigate the journey together!

VA Moms Network Free Resource Library -

Free Resource Library for work at home moms. Sign up for free access and jump start your VA business today!

  You might also like:

9 Things I Wish They Told Me about being a Work at Home Mom -

My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack - Tips and a free printable. My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack - www.VAMomsNetwork.comA Husband's Perspective: 3 Things a VA Mom Needs from Her Guy.

Top 10 Things People Say When They Hear I Work from Home

Top 10 Things People Say: Top 10 lists cover just about anything you can imagine. I thought a work at home Top 10 this week would be a fun change of pace from the daily grind!

Being a work at home mom is a unique challenge unlike any other job. A challenge that well-meaning people just don’t understand unless they’ve been there. Now I’m not complaining and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes it helps to laugh and know that other work at home moms deal with the same things.

So without further ado…enjoy!

Top 10 Things People Say When They Hear I Work from Home:

10. What do you do all day?

9. You must have a lot of time on your hands being home every day!

8. You have the best of both worlds.

7. How lucky that you get to be with your kids all day while you work.

6. Since you stay at home, would you volunteer for ______________ [insert random committee, bake sale, child care, etc.]?

5. Do you think you’ll ever go back to work?

4. That’s so nice that you can work from home and be able to keep up with the house too.

3. Wish I could afford to stay at home.

2. Lucky you, getting to stay in your pajamas all day!

And last but not least…

1. That must be SO much easier than working at a REAL job.


These are all things people have actually said to me. All with the best of intentions, no doubt. (Most of the time, anyway!) 🙂 I’ve learned to roll with it for the most part. It helps having an online network of other WAHMs who get it! Speaking of, we’d love to have you join the network. Sign up here!


What can you add to the list? Share in the comments below, and raise your hand if you’re a fellow work at home mom who can relate!


You might also enjoy:

Breathing Room for Moms: Making the Most out of Working at Home - VA Moms Network

5 Secrets Successful WAHMs Have Figured Out9 Things I Wish They Told Me about being a Work at Home Mom -

Breathing Room for Moms: Making the Most out of Working at Home

Breathing Room and Summer Balance

It’s that time of year again…school’s out this week and the kids will be home full time. My work schedule will look much different for the next three months. I’ve worked at home ever since we’ve had kids, so we all know the drill. I often work early in the morning anyway, but my routine throughout the day is about to change. I have to allow a little extra breathing room.

When my kids were small, the school calendar didn’t make much difference since they were home all the time. Now, though, they’ll be home all day. Even though they’re old enough that they don’t need constant supervision, they still need some guidance. (And I still have to break up the occasional fight!)


So as summertime nears, I’m trying to allow more breathing room for all of us. I have to remind myself to stop and think about several things:

  1. How much do I need to work? Then make my decisions in light of this rather than letting the work manage me.
  2. Take breaks. I tend to work ‘til something is done and then play. The problem is that the work is never done, so I have to remind myself that it’s a good thing to step back sometimes. I usually end up more productive after a break anyway. On the other hand, sometimes this may mean I take a (guilt-free) break from the family and go work at a coffee shop for awhile. I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished more without interruptions and can focus fully on the family when I get back.
  3. Consider each request/invitation/offer. Every yes means something else is a no. Make the yes choices count.
  4. When I’m with my kids, be fully with them. Put work aside and focus on them so I can enjoy our time together instead of being annoyed that they’re interrupting my work.My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack - Tips and a free printable. My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack -
  5. When I’m working, focus. Don’t surf or waste time. I need to be sure and implement my own time management strategy for this.
  6. Find fun activities to look forward to as a motivation (for both me and the kids). These don’t have to cost anything. We have a local park with springs for the kids to play in. We also enjoy exploring places nearby like state parks, orchards, and libraries.

    Summer fun at the park - VA Moms Network

    Summer fun at the park! I’m so glad we took time for it.

  7. Set small to-dos or goals for each “zone” of life. It works better for me when I have groups of weekly goals rather than a strict daily schedule. Then I can work through them as our other activities allow. That helps me be more flexible with things that pop up during the week. If there get to be too many extra zones, maybe I need to evaluate where my time is going. For example, some goals for next week might be:
  • Family: Play a game with the kids, plan the next birthday party
  • House: Hang dining room curtains
  • Work: Finish and turn in project by Thursday
  • Business Building: Draft a guest blog, finish webinar notes
  • Personal: Run 3 times this week, finish a book
  • Other: Buy a wedding gift
  1. And the most important one:

Summer goes by so quickly, and we only have a limited number of summers with our kids before they grow up and get busy with activities, jobs, college, etc. ENJOY IT. Have the kind of summer that both the kids and I will look back on with good memories. That doesn’t mean I don’t work at all. It does mean that I need to make the most of my time and be deliberate about how I spend it.


How about you, what do you hope to accomplish this summer? How do you allow breathing room to balance work and family when everyone is home all day? Share with us below!


Sign up for the VA Moms Network Resource Library for free downloads to help you grow your work at home business.


Practical ways to take charge of your productivity + free printable.

Related: Practical Ways to Take Charge of Your Productivity

5 Secrets Successful Work at Home Moms Have Figured Out


Successful work at home is hard, crazy, messy, and rewarding all at the same time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. We all face so many of the same struggles, issues, and successes.

While we all struggle, some seem to handle work at home so much more smoothly than others. Why such a difference? Successful work at home moms have a few things figured out. I had to learn the hard way, and it’s still a constant balancing act, but maybe the list will save you some of the headaches.

5 things successful work at home moms do differently:

1. They realize they can’t do it all.

We are only one person. It’s okay to ask for help, to outsource, to let some things go.

When we moved to a new town, everything happened so fast that I didn’t have much time to think through the layout of our new house and how I wanted to arrange the kitchen cabinets, storage, etc. The movers were trying to get everything done and get home to start the weekend. (In their defense, it was THE hottest Friday in August. We all wanted to be done.)

We spent the next couple of days getting the kids ready to start school that coming Tuesday. About two weeks later, I started working full time from home. It was a crazy busy job that involved juggling a lot of projects and deadlines. I had to travel a lot for training the first month. Needless to say, I didn’t get the house in order nearly as quickly as I wanted to. There was no volunteering at school parties or making homemade Christmas gifts that year.

Some things just had to give. I couldn’t do it all. As much as I wanted to, I had to recognize that I had to let some things go for a season. I didn’t like it because some of those activities were important to me, but it was temporary.

After I stopped working full time and switched back to client work, I started volunteering once in a while. I was able to catch up on getting the house organized, painted, and decorated. I’m still working through some of it, but a house is always a work in progress.

2. They know when to say no.15 Questions to Decide If You've Finally Found Your Ideal Client + Free Checklist.

As hard as this can be, saying no is absolutely necessary sometimes. Moms tend to think we “should” be able to do everything we’re asked, so we say yes out of guilt, obligation, or fear. If you can’t say “heck, yeah” when you’re asked to do something, maybe it needs to be a firm no.

Pay attention to your body language – if you’re feeling dread or tense up just thinking about a job or request, maybe you shouldn’t do it.

Related: 15 Questions to Figure Out If You’ve Found Your Ideal Client

3. They know when to say yes.

There are some things that we just know are the right thing to do. It fits, and we feel good – about ourselves, our work, our family. When those things come along, by all means do them. Everything you say yes to means you’re saying no to something else. Make your yeses selective and make them count.

Related: My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management HackEven on the hard days, you are enough.

4. They take care of themselves.

This is another thing too many moms skip over. We try to fix the world and take care of everyone else, but put ourselves last. That’s a fast track to burnout and depression.

Taking care of yourself will look a little different for each person, but it’s still important to make it a guilt-free priority every day. Your needs may also be different in each season. Which brings me to #5…

Related: Even on the Hard Days, You Are Enough

5. They realize parenting and working at home are seasonal, and they roll with that instead of fighting against the current.

What I mean by that is things shift. Our kids grow and change; our work opportunities come and go. What works in one season may not be good in another.

Many factors affect each season – health, finances, kids, moving, job changes, relationships, extended family, and the list goes on. We need to recognize that no season is permanent. The kids won’t always be in diapers; another job opportunity will come along; someone will get sick. Don’t wish away the season you’re in; enjoy it because it will pass sooner than you expect.

Here’s what I’ve learned about seasons: While some seasons are harder than others, no season is all bad. Every season has valuable lessons and growth. Each one is shaping us and preparing us for another phase, whether we see it right now or not. If you’re going through a tough season right now, hang in there and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack - Tips and a free printable. My Breakthrough Work at Home Time Management Hack -


What do you think it takes to be a successful work at home mom? What do you struggle with most? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Sign up for the free Resource Library for all kinds of printables and goodies!