Working from home. To many, this sounds appealing. You can work your own hours, take long lunch breaks and enjoy background music. It all sounds good in theory but how do you make it work if you have children? And how do you get any work done if you have three pre-schoolers under your feet most days? This is my current situation and it’s not easy, but it’s doable.
Here are my top tips for working at home with kids:
Be prepared to run things like a boot camp if you want to juggle working from home and kid wrangling. Being a WAHM requires meticulous planning, pleading and, sometimes, bribing (the kids, that is). You must work efficiently and manage your time well if you are to get any work done. Each night before I go to bed, I write a To Do list, empty the dishwasher and prepare my workspace. Essentially this means clearing the floor and my desk (read: dining room table) of kids’ artwork, paste, crayons and play dough.
Reset your body clock
Be prepared to reset your body clock. Wake up earlier than the house. Even if you are not a morning person, you may have to learn to be.
Dressing up would be purely ridiculous but I am not talking heels and a suit. Just remove your ugg boots and run a brush through your hair. You don’t have office colleagues to impress but it helps you change gears and switch your mindset to “work” when you need to.
Maximise short bursts of time
It’s amazing what you can get done in short bursts. I owe hours of professional productivity to Play School. As soon as my kids hear “There’s a bear in there” they rush to the screen and sit mesmerised for 30 minutes. I use this time to fuel myself with caffeine, check emails, compress the inbox, and action at least one item from my list. I also work fast and furiously when my girls are at kinder or occasional care. As a freelance writer I often need to interview people and so I do phone interviews when the girls are out of the house. It’s not very professional to conduct an interview with three screaming toddlers in the background!
Two of my three children still sleep during the day, which enables me over an hour of work time. My eldest daughter understands the true meaning of “quiet time” and will happily sit and draw on her own, or do an activity book. If my three-year-old refuses to sleep, she lies on her bed and listens to Angelina Ballerina on a stereo as she reads along to the book. Sometimes the narrator’s soft, soothing voice puts her to sleep. This is the ultimate goal.
Be prepared to burn the midnight oil
Sometimes the best laid plans come undone. Kids get sick; they miss preschool activities; family commitments pop up unexpectedly and work suffers. In these times I stay up late at night if I have a deadline and type away with no distractions.
Working from home is not easy, but it is possible. Sometimes the lines between work and family can be blurred so when I am with my kids, I try to be fully with them. Although I’ll confess that my youngest daughter regularly springs me checking emails on my iPhone in the kitchen pantry. Busted! Every time.
How do you manage to get any work done with kids at home?