Let’s get real. Working from home and working from home with kids are two completely different situations, mama. One invokes images of settling into a clean, quiet office with a hot cup of coffee and getting down to business.
The other involves a laptop at the kitchen table and tiny humans climbing onto your lap during a Zoom call. But, just because we have needy “coworkers” doesn’t mean we can’t do this thing (and do it WELL), too!
After years of experimentation, I’ve found some strategies that work for me and my family, and I hope they’ll help you, too. Our routine has changed over time, of course, so today I’ll share tips and ideas from across the ages.
This is my absolute favorite tool to map out my day and make sure all the important things get done. You don’t need any fancy software to get started.
I prefer to outline my day in Google Calendar or a Google Sheet so it’s always with me, but you can even use a simple sheet of paper stuck to your kitchen wall. I do my best to keep my evenings clear.
This gives me a much-needed break, and on days when things don’t go according to plan, it also gives some wiggle room to get a little work done after the kids are in bed. Here is what my typical day looks like right now.
This schedule gets me about 15 hours of work time/week, plus any extra I fit into the evenings or weekends. If you’re new to time blocking check out this video from The Free Mama, Lauren Golden, to get you started. Strategies “Sure, that’s great, I have a schedule that tells me when to work…but how do I get my kids on board?” …and that’s the hard part, isn’t it?
Here are some strategies I have used with my boys. Of course, we are all at different ages and stages, and our kiddos are all different, too. I hope you will also share strategies that have helped your family in the comments. Nap Time This is the obvious (I mean, once you get to the point where you can actually stay awake all day).
This is my #1 strategy! Naptime is sacred, right? But what is a mama to do when that precious time comes to an end? I was about 7 months pregnant when my older son decided to drop his afternoon nap, and I was NOT having it! So, “quiet time” was born. This one does take time to develop, but it is totally worth it!
At the beginning (when my oldest was only 2 ½), we started with 20 minutes of quiet time after lunch. As he got used to it, I began slowly increasing by about 5 minutes at a time. We now do 1 hour of quiet play/reading time plus 30 minutes of games on the tablet, giving me an hour and a half of (mostly) uninterrupted work time each afternoon.
They each have plenty of books, cars, Lego and other things to keep them busy. And, it gives us all a short break from each other – particularly important in these COVID times of constant togetherness.
I’ve never been a morning person, and who knows if I ever will be. But here’s the thing – if I can just get myself out of bed, it turns out I really enjoy having a little quiet time to myself before the day begins.
I started by waking up just 30 minutes earlier to do some yoga, stretching and journal. Recently, I decided to wake up another 30 minutes earlier and push our virtual school time back 30 minutes. This created a full hour to work in the morning, and I still don’t have to get out of bed before 6:00.
The Rhythms of Your Day
I don’t know about you, but my kids are SO much more mellow in the mornings. They are happy to read and play together for extended periods, and I often find myself interrupting them for breakfast.
Why not take advantage of this natural rhythm in our home? Take a close look at your day and people’s moods and behavior. In our house, there is simply NO WAY I am getting work done between 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. and when my kids go to sleep.
Once I accepted this fact, I was open to finding new solutions, like adding that hour of work in the morning.
Keep a List of Short Tasks
Take advantage of even small pockets of time. Keep an ongoing list (I use Trello ) of what needs to be done in your business, so when you get a little time, you can dive right in. Bonus points for a list of tasks that can be completed in 20 minutes or less.
Working Alongside Younger Kids
All of this seemed so much harder when my kids were in the toddler and baby phases. During that time, your babies just need you more and their attention span is so short. But it does get easier!
It won’t take as long as you probably think for your kiddos to become more independent, so give yourself (and them) some grace. One of my favorite unexpected games when my boys were toddlers involved simply carrying things back and forth across the house.
This took on many forms over time, like playing “Trick or Treat” around Halloween time. I sat with a bucket full of little toys, handing out one at a time. The catch was, they had to walk back to the other end of the house before they could come back for more.
You can vary this with their favorite stuffies, blocks to stack, play food, Easter eggs, or anything you can think of. Now it’s your turn…What is your favorite strategy, tip, or activity to help you grow your business with kids at home?
Hi there! I’m Jenna Deardorff, owner of J. Lane Virtual Solutions, virtual assistant, funnel designer, and mom to 2 boys, ages 7 and 4. They are sweet, energetic, often hilarious, and pretty much always LOUD! I started my business because I craved freedom in my finances and time. I want to contribute financially and create a dream life for my family…AND I want to actually be around to enjoy it! I’m on a mission to support moms who are chasing that dream for themselves. I can help you free up time to focus on what matters most in your growing business so you can connect with your audience, serve more clients, and make more money! You can find me online at www.jlanevirtual.com or on Facebook.