8 Tips For Working From Home When You Have Kids
As a former full time career nanny, quality in-home childcare is my specialty. I place huge value in providing the best home environment, and quality care and time for children. These days it’s not always possible to be a stay at home mum and devote yourself entirely to the children. Some of us supplement the family income by working for an employer via a remote office, and some of us are lucky enough to be able to pursue our passions and business from home.
8 Tips For Working From Home When You Have Kids
In my role as a nanny I mostly entered into family homes to take the reigns in a sole charge environment. This allowed for both parents to return to the workplace full time.
Being a bit of a go-getter myself, I was actually side-hustling this start-up at the same time, and I learned many tricks to getting my own work done whilst having toddlers and babies under foot. And doing both jobs extremely well.
Some families I nannied for had mum or dad working from home, and over the years I’ve observed and learnt from rockstar mummies who juggle working from home, with caring for their children. I’ve learnt what works, and also what doesn’t.
Here’s my tips for working from home when you have kids (and they’re underfoot) without dropping too many balls.
First and foremost – accept that you can only do the best you can with what you’ve got.
1 // Have a plan
And work the plan. Most children, no matter the age, thrive on structure. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be tied to a routine and that all hell is going to break loose if you let it escape from you. But with boundaries and structure in place, your day can run according to a timeline of your choice.
2 // Do your best work first
To increase productivity, find out when you do your best work – your super important, high achieving, goal ticking work – and do it first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you. If possible, get up early and get a few hours done before the children are up. Before even thinking about opening your emails, make it a conscious decision to work on at least 3 tasks that will directly help you achieve your weekly or fortnightly goals.
I have a really bad habit of checking my phone notifications first thing in the morning. Although it’s an effective way to catch up on what’s going on in the world, I find it immediately squashes any unique, independent and creative thinking I was going to benefit from after a night of rejuvenating sleep. Instead of feeling refreshed and sitting down to map out a blog post or a marketing plan, I’m immediately thinking about how I’m going to reply to that email, or getting lost in Instagram scrolling.Just because you're at home, doesn't mean you have to work on the home. Run your business at home as if you were at an office. #womeninbiz Click To Tweet
3 // Don’t get distracted with house work
Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you have to work on the home. Run your business at home as if you were at an office.
Whether you’ve got children at home as well or not, working in the home is extremely challenging. Set yourself ‘business hours’ and don’t allow yourself to get distracted in the housework that’s piling up during this time. Yes it’s important to take a break, to get up and stretch and move around, but during business hours ensure that these breaks are designed to benefit you, not simply to go and hang out that load of washing or empty the dishwasher. Yes it means you will have to run around like a crazy person to finish all of your household errands once you’ve clocked off for the day, but that’s the best way to ensure your business is working for you in the home.
4 // Make use of child play areas and activities
Having children at home full time, or even just during school holidays (I know, those summer holidays feel like an eternity) can sometimes cramp your style. The constant need to supervise, get drinks of water, clean up mess, referee arguments, and help them find everything, is not conducive to helping you stay within your productivity of genius creation.
Whenever possible, set up play areas in the home where children can play and be self sufficient (whilst of course ensuring safety and observation) so that you can take calls and work. If they’re old enough, set up activities and invitations to play that will keep them occupied for bursts of 45 minute time windows, allowing you to use the Pomodoro technique. And then when all else fails, playgrounds, indoor play centres and parks are great places to keep the kids busy whilst working remotely from your tablet device.
5 // Nap times and quiet times are golden
Don’t mess with them, that is all.
Even if your children no longer go down for day sleeps (wahh, so sad), you can still implement quiet time into the daily routine. Have them lie in bed and read, or pop on a movie, play a puzzle independently, or let them watch something on the iPad during quiet time. This not only helps you, but is also extremely important for their growth and development.
6 // Map out your daily tasks and projects strategically
This is pretty simple, and really incorporates all of the above. If you do your best work in the morning, and you need a quiet space, do your high value tasks first. Whereas simple tasks like scheduling social media and replying to emails can be done whilst supervising your children in the playground. Don’t sabotage your productivity by failing to use your busts of time wisely.
7 // Be creative and re-purpose activities
If your business requires you to be creative – taking and styling photos, recipe development, craft, designing, drawing etc. – try and incorporate your tasks into the children’s activities. For example, whilst cooking dinner, make your recipes and snap photos at the same time (although evening is not great for camera lighting). If you need to style photos for your craft tutorial, set the children up with their own little craft table and make-shift photo shoot.
This way they can share in your work and feel included. Plus it lets you give them your time and attention, without encumbering the progress of your to-do list. If you’re taking the little one out for your daily walk (because exercise is important for achieving success for you, and also extremely important for your child’s development), make use of the opportunity by spending some time listening to a podcast or webinar and up-skill at the same time.
However, editors note: personally, I find that this time of exercise is most beneficial when I’m *not* re-purposing. It’s important to remain current, to consistently up-skill, and to use your time wisely.
But I hesitate to endorse “multi tasking,” because there’s nothing productive about trying to do too many things at once.
It’s equally important to switch off and allow yourself to be at home with your thoughts. You might find you uncover the ideas you’ve been trying to grasp all day.
And if you do have *that kid* that just can’t keep their hands off the fresh baked banana muffins you’ve just pulled out of the oven and need to photograph for a deadline, embrace the cuteness and snap the photos with their pudgy little fingers in shot. Be real and show your community exactly what it’s like to do what you do with children in the home. This adds an in-real-life component to your work and performs well on social media.
7 // Outsource and embrace help
Letting go of the purse strings is a difficult thing to do, and we as women find it extremely challenging to admit to ourselves that we can’t do it all.
The reality is, we simply just can’t do it all. Not without compromising. And that’s ok!
When it comes to working from home when you have kids, embrace help wherever possible. Be it by outsourcing your accounting or hiring a VA, or accepting that you might need a nanny in-home a couple of days a week, or hire a cleaner to keep the house in order so that you don’t become distracted, or utilise traditional day care and bring in the grandparents. Develop a team and structure that works for you.
8 // Done is sometimes better than perfect
I’ll admit, I have issues with this. I struggle with remembering that done is sometimes better than perfect because for me, perfection is a quality I admire greatly. And when it comes to my business, or my children, perfection is to be strived for. That being said, when it gets to a point where you’re not progressing on your timeline and your goals because you’re tied up in perfecting your work, you may need to step back and accept that ‘done is better than perfect.’ And remember, you can always tweak later.
Having children and owning a business means that your children will always be a priority. So that you can juggle everything spectacularly, the best thing is to accept that you’re doing the best with what you’ve got.
There will always be something that goes awry, like a sick child, or a school assembly. Flexibility with the structure and an ability to just go with the flow will make it that much easier.
Working from home when you have kids and children under foot is not the easiest, and it takes effort, patience and dedication, but it can be so rewarding to be able to set your own timeline and to be more present with your children.
>>> Have you perfected the art of working from home when you have kids? What’s your secret?