Two years ago, I started my full-time self-employment journey. I was so excited to have the freedom to structure my days as I pleased. To be in full control of my time and income!
I read all the “work-from-home” tips and thought every day would be like those Instagram pictures you see…snuggled in a blanket, a warm candle burning, and soft music playing as I sat in bed with my laptop.
But what did it end up looking like? Running back and forth between my laptop at the kitchen table and my son who was putting something he shouldn’t in his mouth. Dogs barking at pedestrians on the sidewalk. Creating an office I never used. Frustration because none of those work-from-hope tips actually worked with kids!
So…I’m here to say: If you have kids who are home while you work, it’s going to be different than what everyone else says. Especially if they’re little and require attention at all times.
After a year of trying to make someone else’s “tips and tricks” work for me, I finally had to figure out what worked best for my son and I. Hopefully this is helpful for you if you’re in a similar situation!
1.) Work in a Central Location. This may be the kitchen table, the living room couch, or the playroom if your child cannot play independently. I work at the kitchen table so I can have eyes on my son, who plays in the adjacent playroom/living room.
2.) Understand that you’ll likely work in 5-15 minute increments. Kids are constantly interrupting us…and when I though I could work in long stretches, I would get frustrated at my son for wanting to ask a question. That’s not the right response! Expect interruptions, and work at switching between “mom mode” and “work mode” quickly.
3.) If you have a partner/spouse, communicate with them when you need to slip away to work. I’ll ask my husband to watch the kids for an hour so I can slip upstairs to work. I’ll turn off phone notifications and slip into a deep work mode. It’s amazing what a mama can accomplish with no distractions!
4.) Get work apps on your phone. This way if you need to be outside with your children or somewhere you can’t take your laptop, you can still get some work done! I use Google Forms/Docs, Honeybook, Wordswagg, Zoom, and others on my phone.
5.) Plan a time of day to be fully “mom.” This might be at 5:00pm, right when they wake up from their nap, in the mornings, etc. When you work from home, it can be easy to always work. But we do need to be intentional about quality time! You may work all day long and decide to be fully present at night, or you may choose pockets of time to be fully engaged and ignore the ping of your computer. But we don’t want the whole day to go by without focused, quality time.
6.) Assess the situation regularly. The needs of our children are ever-evolving. What worked last month might not work this month, and that’s ok!
I hope those tips are helpful! Above all, you need to do what works for you. Don’t be afraid if it looks different from what others are doing. Best of luck, mama!
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