Working from home can be tough. There are endless distractions and of course, the issue of keeping motivated while working in an unconventional environment. Working from home is becoming more and more common, especially as technology and digital journalism are becoming mainstream. And research shows that people that work from home at least one day a week are really happy too! But what about when you're working at home and your kids are there too? For many families, this is the reality when the children are small. Making ends meet, figuring out how to forge our paths and forgoing the daycare costs. For many years, I have stayed at home with my kids while simultaneously going to school and building a name and career for myself. It's been a long and sometimes very exhausting road, but as I've grown, I've also met countless other women working from home, running successful businesses or just starting one and many of them have small children at home with them. It can be a crazy life, but one I am confident is possible. Here are my tips for working from home with kids.
1. Set boundaries for yourself.
You might need to do this in a very physical way by creating an office space separate from your living space or you might need to do this simply by giving yourself set hours of the day to work. Perhaps you will need to decide that working late or waking up early work best for your family. Whatever it is, make sure you are giving yourself at least some time to work uninterrupted and then capitalize on that by working on your most difficult projects. Pomodoro is a great app for giving yourself the time to just work.
2. Plan, plan, plan... everything.
Get a planner. Work out how to use digital calendars. Write it all down. Be as organized as you can be, but just don't forget to write things down. You will forget. Always look ahead. I love Any.Do for organizing every aspect of your life.
3. Set priorities.
As you are planning, make sure to highlight the things that are non-negotiable to you. For me, soccer practice and doctor's appointments are not things that I want to miss. They are part of the reason why having a flexible job is important to me. So if someone wants to schedule a meeting during those times, I request something else. Period.
When working from home, it can be very easy to stay tied to your desk all the time, but it is also important to me to know that I don't have to work all the time and that if they want to read a book, I can do that. These little distractions are why it's important to follow tip number 1 above.
4. Take breaks outside the house.
Inevitably, there will be incredibly frustrating times. Children don't always (or ever) realize why a parent is working from home. And if your work is on the computer, they may not realize you are working at all. They will get whiney, you will get tired of it. Taking a field trip without checking your email or Instagram comments for a couple of hours can be a great way to relax your mind to be both a better parent and a better worker later on. Getting outside of your home and office space will allow you to give better attention to your child, while also hopefully reigniting your spirit for your work.
5. Include the kids.
If you are working on the computer, give them a computer game to play. If you are taking photos, let them take photos with a separate device or be your assistant. If you are painting, get them their own set to paint alongside you. If you are running short on time in a day and you have a lot to get done, do simple things like having breakfast together or letting your daughter put on makeup with you. This will not work all the time and it is absolutely imperative that your children learn to respect a parent working from home and use their imagination to play on their own, but including them in your life will help them feel cared for and important, the whole reason why you stayed home with them in the first place.
6. Ask for help without feeling bad.
This is key. Even if you do all of the above, you will still sometimes need help. Maybe from a spouse or partner, but don't forget about your neighbors and friends. They are rooting for you and want you to succeed. After all, the better you are doing in your work, the more likely it is you will be able to help them out or spend time with them. Just make sure to always make sure they know that you can return the favor or they will stop helping you.
And if you are at a point where you feel you need to hire a sitter, don't feel bad about that. Your children will be happier with someone that can play with them than with a parent that is distracted.
Another way to ask for help is by outsourcing some of your work. Will you be less stressed if you don't have tend to your social media accounts? Would having someone write blog posts for you be helpful? You and your business will be better for it.
7. Take care of you as much as you take care of them.
I think by now we all realize how important self-care is to our health. Often times as mothers, we can forget that we need to eat or sleep or get a facial. Being a mother is a full-time job whether you work or don't, inside the home or not. When adding the work to the mix, it can be easy to tend to your work and tend to your kids and forget that you need tending to. Make this a priority.
8. 30 on, 30 off.
This is a strategy I recently heard of, but I think this could be a great way for a person who works part-time from home with kids to plan a day. Plan to spend 30 minutes working and 30 minutes off, playing with kids, doing housework or just spending time to relax. If you work from home with children, you probably already do this in some way, but setting a timer and really focusing could be a good way to increase productivity.
9. Find ways to incorporate passive income.
Inevitably with kids, there are bound to be distractions - sometimes distractions that could take you away from work for days. If you find ways to set up passive income by offering services or products that are already ready to download, you will still be able to make money without simply trading your hours for dollars.
What do you think? Am I missing something? What tips do you have for staying sane while working from home with kids? Comment below!