Ever since the pandemic hit, so many more people have been faced with a new reality: working from home with kids. Even pre-pandemic, I have been working from home with my daughter since 2018! I remember when she was first born and I was totally overwhelmed with the new responsibility of keeping a tiny human alive, all while have business deadlines barreling toward me. It was quite the transition, but I have since formulated strategies that allow for success in being a mom and being a business owner.
- Take advantage of times when he/she/they are asleep! Nap time was key for us when Huxley was younger. I would work furiously while she was asleep. I ended up getting more done in that amount of time than I did before we had kids because I knew it was then or never! We are now in the post-nap phase of her life (Jackson is still taking one nap a day), but we still do our best to have Quiet Time when Jackson is asleep. This can consist of a few different activities: reading, coloring, listening to her Tonies box. Sometimes I even give her a few of my pens and allow her to “work” alongside me. It helps her to feel included in the process even if she’s not doing anything.
- Don’t let your child wake you up. Huxley spoiled us by sleeping in late. For a while, I would just wake up with her and we would start our day together. Then I realized the opportunity that was in the first couple hours of the day prior to her waking up. Yes, that meant an early morning for me, bt oh my…those first two or so hours of sheer quiet…those were impeccable. Another unforeseen benefit was that no one else was up, so I wasn’t distracted by incoming emails, text, or DMs. I could fully focus from the hours of 5:30-7:30 and get a ton done, plus have her breakfast ready for her when she woke up.
- Create a dedicated “work” space. When Huxley sees I am in my office, she knows I am in work mode. It’s harder for her to decipher when I am working versus not working if I bring my laptop to the couch or the bar or the kitchen counter. This visual cue is enough to make her pause prior to coming in usually. This does not, however, mean that they aren’t allowed in your office. See next bullet!
- Create a constructive space for them within your office. At our previous house, we had a toddler work desk in my office so that she had space to play, color, and read while I was working. She was still able to be near me, and I could make sure she wasn’t climbing the walls in the next room. 🙂 Whenever she heard my printer printing, she would get up from her desk and bring me the paper. Usually it was a little crumpled, but it gave her a job and purpose while in there to feel included in my business.
- Create a routine. And stick to it. Determine which times are work times versus which times are interactive times. My kids are way better at following directions to be quiet or play independently when they know there’s going to be interaction with me in just a little bit. This brings me to my final point.
- When it’s time to put work away, truly put it away. I am honestly preaching to myself a little on this one too! When it’s time to slam the laptop shut, it is easy for me to continue to check email on my phone. But when you’re with them, give them all your attention! They will be so much more cooperative when it comes to giving you space to concentrate if they know that soon they will get your full and undivided attention.
As our family has grown, I have finally acknowledged the need for help. Working from home with one child is far different than working from home with three, all of which are on different sleeping schedules. With three children at home, little to no work gets done when it is just me and the kids, photography or house-wise. Some days I am lucky if I get a load of laundry done.
Regardless, I still do my best to put into practice as many of these strategies as possible. We still do our best to abide by routines. And in the chance that the boys’ naps overlap, Huxley still has her quiet time reading or coloring while I work on a little something here or there.
And when all else fails…remember that you are simply in a season of juggling. Some of those priorities are glass balls, while others are rubber balls. If you drop the glass ball…it breaks. If you drop the rubber ball…it bounces. For me, my kids and family are the glass balls. Work, while I find a lot of my identity and value in it, is a rubber ball. I take comfort in knowing that the clients I get to work with understand and champion the season I am in, so there is rarely pressure to sacrifice time with my children to fulfill a work deadline.
If you have another work from home strategy that is particularly helpful when in the season of life with small children at home, comment those below and help fellow members of the TPF community!