Juggling working at home while having two little ones underfoot is an extremely hard thing to do. On one hand, you are lucky to get the opportunity to work at home while still taking care of your children. On the other hand, little ones, whether you have one or more, require constant attention and love, which can derail your business goals. How do you balance both?
Get Real Expectations
The first thing you have to do when trying to achieve balance in your work at home schedule with young kids is to set real expectations. You cannot realistically think you will be able to work through nap-time every day. My first child has always been a strong sleeper (12 hours straight at night starting at eight weeks – I know, amazing!), but she still experienced sleep regressions, teething, and sickness every once in a while. Now add another kid or two into the mix, and nap and sleep schedules become quite unpredictable.
Set goals for your business each day, but also be prepared when life steps in the way. What will your plan B be if you can’t work during a nap time or bedtime? Being realistic with yourself will help you to take on the right amount of work load that won’t stress you out. I cannot tell you how many times I allowed myself to get stressed over missed deadlines. Don’t make that mistake.
Get Help in Some Form or Another
You can’t do it all, so stop killing yourself trying. My to-do list is always full as a work-at-home mom. There are simply not enough hours to do it all, even if I was on top of my time management skills. This is where it is important to prioritize, cut loose the not-so-important, and get outside help for certain areas. This will look very different in your life, but here are a few things I had to do:
- Cut lower paying clients or time-consuming clients so I could focus more on the better paying clients
- Arrange for my toddler to spend a few hours with her grandma once a week
- Cut out dance lessons for my toddler for the busy season
- Rely on quick, healthy meals rather than from scratch meals
- Hired a high school boy to do yard work
- And will be getting more help from a once a month maid
As you can see, I needed help in many different areas. Arranging child care might not always be the right solution. Child care can be costly, and for us, it is hard to arrange with my youngest daughter’s nap schedule. It is more beneficial for me to hire someone to help with the housework and yard work (and it takes off a huge mental load).
Learn to Work in Beats
Sitting down for an hour or more to work is a luxury for me. Instead, I try to take advantage of those five minute windows that happen frequently all day long. To do this, I am creating special files for each projects I am working on, accessing Swype and dictation on my phone to write quicker, and trying to outline and research ahead of time to make it easier to work on a project throughout the day. This is definitely not a perfect system, but if you can utilize five minute each hour you are with your kids (which is usually a 12-hour day for me), then you have gained an extra hour without neglecting your children. Let’s be honest, if I didn’t spend those five minutes working, I was probably checking social media, anyway. Might as well put those five minutes to beneficial use.
Those are my three strategies for trying to balance working at home with two little needy ones. There are several days that I fail miserably at balancing it all, but that is just how life ebbs and flows sometimes. Look at life with little ones as seasons and phases, and remember that time spent with them will always be more valuable than any project you do or client you land. You will always have more time to work when they are older.
How do you balance working at home with little kids underfoot?