When people ask me if I work, I always end up stumbling over my words a bit. It usually comes out something like, "Yes, I work, but I work from home, and I'm also a stay-at-home mom, so… no. I mean yes." And to be honest, that often fairly represents my daily routine as well; occasionally I stumble over my day, as it includes deadlines and phone calls and block towers and snack time… sometimes all at once.
So while I'm by no means an expert on working from home with kids, here are a few things I've found to be helpful along the way:
• Naptime is worktime. No matter how crazy my morning has been, it's always nice to know I have about 2 hours in the afternoon to work in silence. This is when phone calls usually get made, and I do any writing that needs to be done.
• Co-working is great, if possible. Sometimes it works out that I can sit and work at my computer while my toddler sits with me and colors, or does a puzzle, or plays with clay. Sometimes. I have to tell myself to take this time as it comes and be prepared to be interrupted!
• Don't plan on working all day — carve out time to just be a mom. It's freeing to be able to totally put work away for a few hours, and go for walks, play on the floor, and just do mom stuff. The laptop is closed, my phone is out of my hand, and I am free to spend time just being a mom.
• If you feel yourself getting frustrated, walk away from work. This is one I've had to learn the hard way. Let's face it, sometimes I am being pulled two different directions by a work issue that needs my attention and a toddler that needs my attention. I've learned that if it's at all possible, to walk away from work and read that book or put together that train track instead.
• Be prepared to have a toddler helper with home projects and chores. Naptime used to be when I got housework done, or worked on projects around the house. Since naptime is now worktime, I've learned to integrate any housework or projects into our "awake and together" time. This may mean having some mini tools and supplies on hand for your little one to "help out." Here are some great tips on chores toddlers can help do.
• Make a little time for yourself. I realized that one thing I was really missing in my day was about 30-45 minutes of downtime, a lunch break. Sometimes I eat lunch with my toddler, but sometimes I won't, and I'll wait until naptime and make myself something special. I'll read a book while I eat, or take my lunch on the porch for a few minutes of quiet.
• Easier said than done, but be flexible. Some days are just hard. Nothing seems to go right and it seems like you are always one step behind. I've had to accept that some days as a work-from-home parent are just tough! If I can, I'll call it quits for the day on working and we'll just go to a park. Or I'll put my work on hold until after bedtime. Or I'll just hang in there, knowing the end is in sight! Sometimes things don't always go as planned, and that's just part of the equation.
All in all, the challenges of working from home as a parent are worth it to me when I consider how lucky I am to be able to stay at home and pursue a career. It can be a balancing act for sure, but it can be done! What about you? What are your tips for working from home with kids?