I have been working from home for the last three years. I worked as a reporter based out of my home office for a little over a year, and then quit to begin freelancing. My girls are now almost 7 and 5, and while full-time school for my oldest has made it a little easier to get work done, it was not always that way. On top of the distractions and constant interruptions, the guilt is a real killer.
When you have small kids, it is hard to create a reliable schedule. For some crazy reason, infants and toddlers struggle with getting themselves to the bathroom and feeding themselves, so you will have to prepare for a lot of stop and go if you work during the day. Here are a few ways I survive working from home with kids:
Build in extra time
Know that it will take you longer to get things done. The law of “Lets Annoy Mom,” dictates that your kids will leave you alone so long as you are procrastinating or doing nothing of importance. However, the instant you sit down to get to work the little ones will start crying, fighting, get hungry, make a mess or otherwise demand your attention. This law is unavoidable, if you don’t believe me, pick an important task and start working on it while your children play with toys or another activity… and cue interruption.
Work while the kids sleep
No more naptime for you. The most productive part of your day will probably be when the kids are down for a nap or in bed for the night. See the previous rule to understand why. This will require a little sacrifice on your part, as you may have to put off watching your favorite show, finishing the dishes or enjoying you new book in lieu of a little extra time to work. You can alleviate a little of the working-at-home-instead-of-paying-attention-to-my-kids blues/guilt if you do more of your working while the kids are asleep and set aside some time during the day to play with your little ones.
Work away day
I have lugged my computer with me to the park, library and even the McDonald’s play place. My kids run around and I get to work in a different environment. Other times I have left my kids with my husband and headed out the library just for a change of scenery. Sometimes a new location sans the noise and distraction of family life can do wonders for your concentration.
Working from home has its challenges. However, if spending more time with your children during the day is important to you, you can make it work. You will need a lot of patience, flexibility and discipline. The key to enjoying working from home is to spend the time you are enjoying your family focused on them. Working from home offers flexibility to play when you want to play. Remember that while you work from a home office, you should still treat it like a job and get your work done so you can play without guilt.
Any other working from home tips you’d like to add?
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