In an ideal world we would all have nanny’s, daycare or family coming to look after our children while we worked. In reality this doesn’t happen. Even if we do have daycare, we all know kids get sick and have to stay home.
This year I took the step of getting a nanny a day a week to make life a little bit easier….and to get some of our weekends back! This is working quite well although I obviously can’t cram my whole work week into one day [which is actually 6 hours] so here’s some of the tips I use to juggle work deadlines and my boys. Hopefully some of these can work for you to. To give you an idea on age appropriateness, my youngest is 10 months and my eldest is nearly 3.
- Start your week on track by making a list of everything you need to get done in your business. This is not only work for clients but also the daily running of your business. I like to do this on a Sunday night with my hot chocolate and bad tv. This will give you a big picture of how much time you are going to need to dedicate to getting everything done. Remember, the task list is flexible, we all have that client that calls up last minute wanting something NOW.
- From your task list work out what needs to be done with 100% concentration. This might be things like proposals, strategy, writing, reporting, website updates, basically anything that you can’t really be interrupted when you are doing it. These tasks get done while your kids are being looked after or in bed asleep.
- Find activities you can do together. I know this sounds strange but I am lucky enough to have one who still has a daily sleep and the other who enjoys going to “work” with Mummy. When my youngest is sleeping, my eldest and I get set up on the table to go to “work” together. We each have our cuppa and we do one of two things depending on what I need to get done. If I am scheduling social media, newsletters I’ve pre written, editing images or answering emails, I use my laptop and he has the ipad and does his Reading Eggs activities. We are side by side so I can help him or praise him as he goes through the activities and I am not doing anything that I can’t be interrupted from. The second thing I sometimes do during this time is content planning where I mind map blog ideas, posts, product ideas etc. While I am doing this, he is colouring or drawing, just like me. I love this time together and feel that we both get something out of it.
- I have recently started listening to podcasts as part of my research and personal development instead of reading as many books and articles as I find it is much easier to manage my time this way. I have my podcasts downloaded onto my phone and whenever I get in the car or go for a walk I listen to them. The boys listen to their music or story cd’s and I put my headphones in and listen to my podcasts. I can still talk to them if they want me to or need something [like for me to acknowledge the digger] but I find we all like our quiet time in the car. Neither of my boys are the best sleepers so I find myself driving around quite a bit if they happen to fall asleep in the car or need some quiet time so this works better for me than it might for those who rarely drive.
- Last year [pre having two children] I had a fantastic set up with another work from home Mum. We had the same age children and did similar work so we would either meet at a playcentre with our laptops where the two children would play while we worked. We would alternate each week being the person who attended to any “sharing issues” or food/drink requests. We would also have a morning a week where we would take turns minding each other’s children while the other one had some time out for meetings or attending to deadlines. I miss this more than anything else I think and look forward to being able to implement it again as soon as Mr 10 months is ready for play centres.
- Occasionally there are books I want or need to read so where possible I have them on my phone so I can read a few pages while I am waiting in lines [without kids!] or on public transport. I also try and dedicate 10 – 15 minutes before I go to bed to read. I will be absolutely honest here though, this does not happen every night like I plan, more like once or twice a week [on a good week]. Which is the reason for podcasts!
- Always be organised enough to have tasks ready to go if you have unexpected child free time. I’ll give an example of how this normally works. Husband/mum/mother-in-law/friend decides to give you some alone time to work and takes the kids out of the house or sends you to a cafe. You spend these few cherished hours thinking about how lucky you are to have this time, checking Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook again and basically jumping around the internet doing ‘research’ or whatever your mode of procrastination is. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, this was my exact pattern. Now I have a list of blogs that need to be written, newsletter ideas and instagram posts planned and saved on my computer. This way if I have no pressing deadlines for clients I can sit for that time and just write so if something goes wrong and I have less hours available one week, I have a backlog of content done and ready to post to the relevant channel.
Having the ability to work from home can be so challenging and so rewarding at the same time and we all chose to do this for our own reasons. One reason most people have as one of their top reasons to work from home is “I want to be there for my kids and I want the flexibility to work around their schedules”. Always keep your reasons in the front of your mind on those tough weeks/months. Sometimes I think working from home is so much tougher than if I went back to the corporate 9 to 5 and then I look at my boys faces as I take them to the zoo, the park or even our daily babychino dates and I realise it’s all worth it and will only get better once they start kinder and school and I can be there.
I hope you have found these tips useful and can implement some of them into your day.
If you have any other tips we’d love to hear them so please share!