Are you struggling to juggle working at home with looking after your kids? Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal!
Since saying goodbye to my much-loved job in the UK and moving to New Zealand, I’ve been working as a freelance travel writer, so I have some experience balancing the demands of working from home with the responsibility of caring for my children. And no, it’s not that easy but I’ve learnt a few tips and tricks which I’ll share with you here.
Your success at working from home with children will depend on several factors, such as how old and how well behaved your kids are. This can vary day by day, hour to hour!
My six-year-old will happily play with an iPad for a bit if you provide him with enough fruit to snack on. On the other hand, the moment Child B sees the laptop lid pop open, then she is up, tugging on my legs. She doesn’t wish to share a minute of my attention.
How do you work with kids at home then?
With difficulty but it is not impossible. Mostly, I grab five minutes here and there, during naps times or when the wee one is exploring the lounge. I cannot recommend being prepared to squeeze every spare moment out of your day highly enough.
- Keep a pen and pad within arm’s reach – have a dedicated notebook to jot down your thoughts whenever they strike. It’s quicker than logging into a PC or laptop by which time the kids have probably sussed out what you’re up to.
- Remove distractions – Or rather, remove yourself from any distractions where possible, So, don’t have the washing up in your line of sight or other chores that are likely to eat into your precious time. Or learn to tune them out (the distractions, not the kids).
- Social media – never-ending scrolling must be one of the biggest time sucks so turn off your Facebook or Twitter notifications on your phone to claw back some time
- Make technology work for you – don’t waste time doing tasks that can be completed quicker with a helpful app or desktop workflow site. For example, I use Zoho to log my time. It’s so much easier than ‘manually maintaining a spreadsheet. It works across my laptop and phone too, plus I can generate timesheets and invoices from it.
- Realistic expectations – don’t set yourself up to fail by expecting too much of yourself and setting unrealistic goals. There’s little chance you’ll be able to complete as much work at home during the day as you did at the office so cut yourself some slack.
In all honesty, most of my work is done after the little ones are tucked up in bed. I can get a good couple of hours of work under my belt so long as I’ve stayed on track with our daily routine (see Planning a Family Routine for inspiration) and got the kids to sleep on time.
The positives of working from home
On the flip side, you won’t be spending countless hours in meeting after meeting, clock watching for the next tea or lunch break, or getting drawn into pointless office politics. Therefore, you stand a good chance of at least being able to stay up to speed if not smash it out of the park.
I’m loving this unexpected family time together. It’s such a rare treat to spend so much time with them. Plus, I’m enjoying the fun factor they add to each working day. Can you imagine Karen at the office pretending to disintegrate you with a death ray or hiding from you under a pile of teddy bears? Probably not!