If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ll know one of my favorite and most active boards is my “Home Office Inspiration” board. I seldom pin anything else but home offices these days, and why not? There are so many that inspire me and make me want to improve my own little corner of our home. I’m still not 100 percent convinced I have my space down pat, but for now, it works:
My humble workspace on one side of our dining area. This is actually from some months ago, but it’s generally like this.
I’m often drawn to inspiring workspaces and home offices, both online and off in my favorite interior design magazines, books and blogs. Since I believe that everything is a work-in-progress, I believe that there’s no reason to stop wishing for and dreaming for the perfect workspace. However, to curb envy and comparison, I also believe that we can make a space beautiful using what we already have. (And what I have, in particular, is a narrow desk that is actually for sale, so that I can buy a new one with drawers for Vito’s growing homeschool files. Do email me, if you want to see photos of the desk I’m selling, pictured above!)
It is so important to have a nice work space, especially if you are a work-at-home freelancer like me. My workspace is my “home central,” and I look to it as my “servant”, not my slave, to quote Anne Ortlund, whose book on the matter has been like a constant voice in my head, reminding me to always keep an efficient, pretty and blissful workspace. (Her book is “Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman,” where her final chapters are all about keeping a planner and a workspace.)
Anyway, as I budget for my new desk these days, I’m drawing my inspiration from a bunch of beautiful rooms that I’ve been seen lately online. I’m informally calling this my “workspace style file”, for obvious reasons. Which of these rooms inspire you?
via HGTV | Erin of Design for Mankind’s DIY desk is love!
via That’s Happy blog | I love this workspace for two! Wonder if Ton and I can pull this off, haha!
via Hibrid.com | That chair is on my wishlist for a future home office. Still saving up for it!
via Ruthlgarner.com | This simple long, wall-facing desk is ideal for my narrow space at home.
For more home office inspiration, > Click Here < for my Pinterest board.
Do you feel the same way? Do you have a room in your home where you can escape? Do you have a creative nook if you don’t have an entire room?
Rockwell Primaries’ recently launched their new lifestyle website, The Start: Your Guide to a Better Life Lived, and interviewed me for their “At Home” feature (click here, “At Home with Martine de Luna“). The interview was mostly on how to “make working at home work” for a busy mom like me. It was such a fun feature to shoot, and best of all, I got to talk about the WAHM life.
I’ve been working from home, doing virtual work for almost five years. It works for me and my family, and I enjoy it, I thrive on it! It’s because of the “WAHMderful life” that I’ve been able to give workshops on working from home, and give a voice to work-at-home women here in the Philippines.
But I’m not just for the practice of working from home: I’m for the lifestyle of being homebased, of loving your home and thriving in your home. I don’t have the Pinterest-worthy home, but I have to say I enjoy staying in my little apartment, and it’s because of a few home-loving practices I’ve been doing along the way.
Off the top of my head, I can think of three. Seriously, if you want to enjoy being in your home while you are a work at home woman, these three tips can drastically change your lifestyle!
1. Prettify your home.
Now you don’t need a big budget or a master plan to overhaul your home to Pinterest levels, but if you want to feel blissful, happy, even relaxed while working from home, you would do well to fix up and make your home beautiful. Making it “beautiful” is up to you, whatever your definition or idea of beauty is.
For me, it means bringing home flowers each week from the market and placing them in small vases around the living and dining area. It means using throw pillows — handmade or store-bought — and decorating my lone sofa with some color and pattern. It means putting art up on the walls, even if they aren’t premium works of art, as long as they mean something to me.
2. Find ways to entertain yourself.
I’m an Insta-addict, and proudly so. Some avid Instagrammers travel a lot, or do #ootd (outfit of the day) posts galore, and others are often dining out and taking snaps of their gloriously prepared platters and plates. Me? I’m at home maybe 90% of the week, and still I manage to use Instagram to entertain myself on a daily basis. I’ll use my dining table as my makeshift studio, and participate in hashtag streams like #7vignettes or #fmsphotoaday or whatever, so I can look forward to a daily playdate with my IG community. (Follow me on Instagram at @martinedeluna, won’t you?)
On other days, I might draw or paint with my son, or just settle down in the sofa and pore over my latest magazines. I might find a recipe and try it out, so I can channel what may be in me that is “domestic goddess” material. (Haha!) Or I might play with my Simplified Planner and washi tapes — a very fulfilling, and maybe silly outlet.
If you work from home, what’s your entertainment outlet? TV and video games won’t qualify with me: it has to be creative, fun, or even silly. What do you do for fun, while you work from home? How do you entertain yourself?
3. Set aside a no-work day.
I mentioned in my interview that I don’t work on Mondays. And that’s true! Really. You should try it some time. Apart from watching my clients’ social media channels (which I can do on the go, thanks to my smartphone), I’m basically offline on Mondays. It’s the perfect day to do the groceries (Mondays or Thursdays = no crowds in the mall); we can get our errands done easily; we can even take the day off, if we want to. (The husband works from home, too.)
I set aside Mondays for “no work” because I simply can and I choose to keep them free. If that’s not possible for you (especially if you don’t have a flexible work schedule, even at home), then make it a point to set aside some “no work hours.” That means turn off your laptop, say good-bye to social media for a couple ‘hours, and do something not related to work. I recommend tuning out of the online world if you’re a WAHM-ie, just because our work lives are so heavily intertwined with social media, apps and the digital.
For more of my work-at-home musings and home management insights, visit TheStart.com.ph
How about you? Any work-at-home tips to share with me? Like I said, this lifestyle is both an art and a science to me! I’d love to know your insights into it, too.
Ever since the start of this year, things have been taking a turn for the “clearer”, so to speak. I changed the name of my blog from Dainty Mom to “Make it Blissful” to reflect — as my friend Yeng Remulla puts it — my “declaration” or “statement” in life. It just felt right and felt timely when I did that.
Later on this year, I also welcomed a new venture: I became the part owner of a small coworking space called HoneyComb: Manila Coworking, a shared collaborative workspace for creative, innovative entrepreneurs and professionals. It’s a newbie in the local coworking scene, and we’re still gearing up for its formal opening, but right now it’s on soft launch and free trial period. (Stop by some time to co-work for FREE.)
My local blog therapy and coaching gigs have also been picking up, meaning I set a lot of my local meetings over at the coworking space.
All that said (and done!), people have asked me several times —
“I thought you’re a work at home mom? Why are you coworking? Does this mean you’re not working at home anymore?”
Well, yes and no. No, I’m not a 100 % work at home mom anymore. I still have clients whom I meet with and collaborate with purely online. I actually preferred it this way for a long time! It meant I could breastfeed my kid for an extended period of time (which I did, and I wrote about how it was hard for me to wean). Now that Vito is older, things have changed in the way I’m doing things around the house and in the family. He’s more independent, and so the setup I’m working with has also changed. I still stay at home, say, 90% of the time.
Flexibilty is freedom (for me, that is)
It’s not the label of “work at home mom” that defines me. It never has, and it never should.
I still believe moms can “make a living while making a home.” Some of my very good friends are operating 100% on WAHMness! (Hi, Marge – The Happy WAHM and Jenn – The Techie Mom!)
With my blog therapy picking up locally — and, being personal in nature — it made sense for me to adapt while I can. I’ll always be a mom who works from home, because I believe that’s the best setup for me. But more than that, I believe I’m a — as my other friend Ruth Wong puts it — a “flexi-work mom.”
Being a mom with a flexi-work setup means that I empower myself with the freedom to work in the way I see fit.
Some people don’t work well with flexible schedules. Me? I need flexibility in order to thrive. I suppose it comes from years of being a writer, when most of my work was about deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Like my friend Frances once said to me, “nothing inspires a writer to write than a screaming deadline!” It’s true! I used manage my projects like this when I had an 8-hour, non-stop schedule with my former offshore employer.
These days, I work best during my self-defined “work pockets”, with a cold drink on hand (real tea with lots of ice, or iced coffee!) and some good
(or cheesy 80’s) music on my playlist — which is pretty much what’s happening now. And I’m working from home, yes, at 20 past 10PM.
Working with what works
This is the way my life works right now. When I have to schedule my meetings outside the house, I make sure to compound them into a single day, so that I can still tend to my son and be hands-on as possible with our very flexible, very informal homeschool. Once my meetings are done, it’s Vito time when I get home. We play, we craft, we draw, we watch TV, we just spend time together. Sometimes, the family will have time to up and leave town in the middle of the week, just because flexi-work makes it possible to take a day off from the city.
My husband and I are making things work — making them blissful — because we want this flexi-work thing to work out. At this point in our lives, it’s what works. And I’m enjoying the season so far. I believe the path I’ve followed ever since has eventually led me to my current mission as a “bliss finder.” I believe in creating one’s own happiness in life, work or love. For me, that means being able to define my work style in the way I see fit.
So, “no” I haven’t stopped being a work at home mom, would be my answer to this blog question. I have, however, just added a new dimension to the way I work and live my life, and that’s flexibility. It’s my version of “creating freedom,” as my friend Lois Yasay of We Are Sole Sisters puts it.
Have you ever felt labeled or “boxed in” by labels and definitions, like me being a “semi-work at home mom”? How do you respond to this? Let’s chat in the comments, yes?
I haven’t done a home office inspiration post in a looooong time, but I do keep my Pinterest board peppered with my current inspirations. Today, I swooned over this workspace setup by Joy Cho, one of my favorite bloggers. She presents two ways for dressing up this Office Depot desk, which has mid-century inspired design that I absolutely adore.
Here’s the first setup. Be prepared to pin to your heart’s content.
I love this option, because it’s very “me.” My own desk currently has pops of color here and there, because of the frames and magnet board that I use as my workspace’s focal points. I love how everything in this setup (above) is carefully curated. Everything on the desk is useful, down to the bookends and even the rabbit vase on the side (swoon!).
I also like the trouser hanger idea for hanging swatches and other inspiring art work. So cost-effective and easy to do! I could also use them to hang Vito’s artwork each week.
I also love the next version of the workspace, below. Why? Well, just because I’ve had a thing for dots and gold for a long, long time.
I love the idea of using a bar cart as a desk sidetable. If cost were not an option, I’d actually get Jenni Epperson’s Victoria Bar Cart from her Crossings collaboration. However, I think I’m going for a repurposed filing cabinet at this point (like the first workspace setup). I’ve also put in an order of a Raskog multipurpose cart in aqua, which I plan to fill with Vito’s and my craft supplies for homeschool.
Prettiness all around! I’m inspired to blog about home office spaces again!
Which space by Oh, Joy did you like best? What would you do in your own workspace at home?
Note: The quote above is from my mentor and friend, Jess Lively, who has been instrumental in helping me craft a kind of lifestyle and business that I love. The post below is a version of a previous post I wrote a couple of years ago for the now defunct collaborative blog, The Mom Renewal Project, where I used to be a contributing blogger.
I’ve been a mom for three going four years, and though I only have one child, this mommy-hood journey tiring. OK, OK, so I can’t hold a candle to those who have three or more kids, but you know what I mean, right? I’m still hoping and praying for Baby #2 to come about, but until then, I feel like I need to shape up.
Especially last year.
Yes, my last year of WAHM-ing was quite the challenge! I was doing too much that I reached a point of extreme exhaustion: I was physically tired, and I was stretching the role of the “work at home mom” to limits that went away from my intention to, well, be a work at home mom!
There was a point late last year where I had gotten used to running on adrenaline. I had gotten used to nights when I don’t sleep at all, days when I would forget to do the cooking, and times when I would lose the drive to step into the shower — too tired to drag my feet out of bed in the middle of a post-chore nap.
I thought things would lighten up after I weaned Vito, but to be perfectly honest, I actually crammed my schedule with more work, more projects… and of course, it all led to more stress.
This was not the WAHMderful life I was intending to live.
What I did to restore myself
When I began 2013, I had several intentions for myself as a wife, a mom, a work-at-home professional, and a woman.
1. I would make more time for my family, so that we could maximize these early years as parents and be completely hands-on in the rearing of our son.
2. I would let go of the jobs that were not helping me fulfill intention #1.
3. I would spend more time reflecting and caring for myself spiritually. Not necessarily in the religious sense, though: Instead, I wanted to ensure that I was living my life as a wife and mom aligned to my life purpose and mission.
4. I would give more time to bettering myself in other areas as well: business-wise, health-wise, relationship-wise. This meant regularly being mentored and trained by people I looked up to in my industry, exercising, and also nurturing relationships among family, friendships with other women.
Now, this list of intentions is harder to accomplish than it looks. But, as a mom, I needed to see the grand scheme of things, and it was this: That the unity of my intentions, my health, and my values mattered greatly, if I wanted to live a WAHMderful life. How I approached my relationships, spirituality, health and business would impact me significantly in my vocation as a wife, mom, professional and — yes! — all-around domestic goddess.
That’s why I make it a point to weekly commit to the three “Rs” of mommy restoration.
They are: to relinquish what is not serving me; to rejuvenate my body and mind regularly and to reflect on my life and decisions on a consistent basis.
During the “height” of my WAHM stress, I was running on 3 hours of sleep a night on weekends. I am a resilient person, not usually prone to illness, but even the most hardy woman would get bogged down with this type of schedule! The lack of sleep and irregularities to my schedule took its toll on my body, and I would get colds more easily, headaches more frequently, and gain weight at a faster rate.
Clearly this meant more than just cutting down on my work work hours. It meant letting go of projects that I didn’t need to do anymore, for the sake of buying back my precious time.
It was a drastic shift. In fact, I was featured in Jonathan Mead’s website because of this! (You can read the full article when you click on the image below.)
If something isn’t serving your intention to be a fully present wife and mom, then you may find yourself doing something as drastic as I did: quitting a dead-end job, opting-out, relinquishing. For some, it may be just the thing to get back to their intention to be the moms they know they need to be. In fact, my friend Ruth wrote about this recently, on how taking a break from building her business served as a catalyst for her to be a better entrepreneur, but not until she regained her focus on being a full and present mother. (You may read Ruth’s post on her blog, Momme Circle.)
Of course, each to her own. Consult your spouse before doing anything this life-changing! I’d like to post-script this paragraph by saying that I prepared myself financially before cutting off the employment umbilical cord. If you’re going to quit a job, make sure you plan your exit sensibly!
I used to be hesitant sharing about my “me” day once a week, but I soon learned I was sending the wrong message to many WAHMs out there. Ladies, massages and spa treatments in the Philippines are affordable for a reason! Nowadays, I try to schedule a spa visit at least once every month, for a full relaxation treat. I get a body massage once a week if I can manage it, even if it’s just a home service massage. Also, I calendar my salon appointments so that I don’t forget to at least get a hair treatment every three weeks, and a trim every six.
I also take regular “me” time dates, when I need to write alone, work on passion projects, or simply have dessert by myself!
There’s nothing selfish or wrong about getting primped and pampered, moms. I heartily agree with my friend Jayme of Optimommy, whose philosophy is “happy mommy = happy home.” Indeed! It’s so easy to get caught up in the one-woman role of wife-mom-cook-cleaner-teacher-writer that I so often find myself in, and taking some “me” time is the perfect reward for all this juggling!
This is the most important “R”, because you can’t relinquish or rejuvenate if you don’t have a sound heart and spirit to guide your decisions and intentions. Now, I find my peace when I pray to God, which is at the top of my priorities, next to my relationship with my husband and my son. Now that my son is older, I have more time in the morning to pray, meditate and even lay my plans for the day before God. (When he was smaller and still nursing, I’d reflect during the small pockets of time allowed to me when I am between chores and work commitments.)
It’s my time to get “beautiful” inside, to recall the reason why I decided to become this work-at-home mom version of myself to begin with!
Again, in this case, each to her own when it comes to praying or finding time for reflection. It’s never the environment or the faithwalk that matters in this area, it’s your state and presence of mind. Reflection is all about going back to our intentions as women, wives, mothers and workers. It’s about being mindful in creating a life that we love and can thrive in as moms.
So, those are my “three R’s”, and they have been heaven-sent.
How about you? Are you as schedule-crazy and work-addicted as I was?
Is it time to get some “R, R & R” for yourself? Only you know the answer.
In case you’re interested in learning effective strategies on how to get your “me-time” back, there’s a blissful workshop next week being conducted by my friend Jayme of Optimommy. It’s called “Be Happy and Stress Free” and I highly recommend you go! Details may be found on the Optimommy blog here: Be Happy Go Stress-Free!