5 Tips For Working At Home With Young Kids
While writing this blog post, my toddler is throwing his stuffed elephant on my laptop, I am writing with one hand while holding off his curious fingers with the other, and he is now putting a blanket over my head while bellowing with laughter. You see, today was one of those days. A day where nap time didn’t go as planned…. (have you been there my friend??). So here I am, lying in bed with him while he ‘attempts’ to sleep and I ‘attempt’ to get work done. Ahh the life of a working mom with young kids at home.
So why, might you ask, would I write a post giving you tools to handle working with kids when I obviously don’t have it together at the moment? Because, as all of us moms know, even when you have a plan, there will always be those days. And this is one. But those days are few and far between and after much trial and error, Gill and I have found a few helpful strategies to make it a little easier to navigate work and kids (when they do manage to sleep like little angels that is :) ). As for the other days? Well we gotta laugh them off and remember that the days are long but the years are short. (Ps - Want a FREE work schedule template designed just for MOM's? Get it here)
1. Wake up before them. GASP! Yes I know how precious sleep is now that you’re a parent. It took me a looooooong time to come to terms with this one. But once I did it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. Even 15 minutes of alone time made a huge difference to the rest of my day. Pour yourself a coffee, have a shower, read the news, meditate, whatever it is, do it on your own terms. There is such a huge difference between waking up to a child demanding something from you vs waking up by choice, embracing the day with the mindset you intentionally chose, and greeting your sleepy child with open and loving arms. You’ll be more productive and in a happier spirit. Win-win.
2. Find ways to do chores while your kids are awake so you can use nap time to work. Make laundry an adventure - get them to help sort the clothes or play in the laundry basket. Give them a tub of soapy water to wash plastic animals as you wash the dishes. Buy them a little broom so they can sweep with you. Not only will they enjoy the process and learn from you, but you will also tick things off your list so you can actually achieve things during nap times. If those tricks don’t work, see if you can join a toy exchange in your neighbourhood so you can have a constant stream of new toys coming in the door to distract your little one while you do chores. Free in cost and free in guilt! Whatever you choose, keeping your nap time free from distraction so you can focus is key to success when working at home. Whatever you have to do, protect nap time as if your life depended on it!
3. Buddy up. If you can find a mom with a child the same age who is interested in co-work sessions, this can do wonders. The kids can play together in a safe space while you work. Even if they are still in engaged in ‘independent play mode’, they are often mesmerized by new toys and spaces and you can get some good work in. Now, let's be honest, this is not going to be uninterrupted work time, but if you can even draft one blog post or are able to watch a video tutorial, it’s worth it. As a working parent, every minute counts. And if you find you aren’t getting enough work done, ask your friend if she would be interested in taking turns to watch both kids for a few hours while the other works. Badda bing badda boom.
4. Give yourself one day a week. Or one morning at least. We all have differing needs and access to childcare but we highly suggest at the very minimum, to have uninterrupted time at least once a week (best of course if you can have more). Finding a nanny is not always easy but in most cities there will be a facebook group that advertises local childcare opportunities and it’s getting to be much more common that other moms are looking for a part time nanny share. Another good technique is to look for someone who has a full time nanny but their kids are starting preschool - it may be a great opportunity to use their nanny while their kids are at school and then they don’t have to pay for hours they don’t need. Another win win! And yes, no doubt, leaving your babe (especially for the first time) is hard but remember - it’s good for your child to have time with other people and it’s good for you, for your business and, most importantly, your mental health.
5. Don’t put too much on your plate. We’ve all been there. Where we try to do it all. Be it all. But the truth is, we are only capable of so much. And when we are spread too thin, we don’t do anything well and we beat ourselves up for it. Try not to bite off more than you can chew. Outsource what you can. Delegate and pace yourself so that you can still live the life you want and spend the quality time with your kids that you dream of. At the end of the day, they are the reason we are building this better life - so we can be the best (and happiest) moms we can be and give them the life they deserve. But they are our number one priority. So take the time to soak them in and remember, you are already amazing for even trying.
Bonus time saving and productivity tips:
- Save time by ordering your groceries online and picking up at your local store. It’s easier than you think!
- Try out a meal planning app and never have to think about what you’ll cook for dinner again! We like Mealime.
- Learn on the go by listening to podcasts in the car and whenever you have a few moments of waiting time (keep your earphones handy!)
- Keep your to do list short and organize tasks by the approximate time they will take. Have a spare 10 minutes, tick one of those quick items off.
- Raise your vibe and have some fun with your kids with daily and spontaneous family dance parties. It only takes 90 seconds!
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