Working at home with kids is seriously the worst, friends. No, really, it’s exhausting. So if you’re thinking about doing it, or you are doing it and you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a few things you need to know. Of course, this mostly pertains to kids who aren’t in school yet. If they’re in school, they’re not with you, right?
Surviving Working at Home with Kids
Full time is NOT an option without help.
It might feel like I work thirty-two hours a day, but the timeclock usually says about four. Even without this blog (you can read how much of a time suck it is here), there is no way it would be possible for me to work forty hours a week at home while caring for my children. Actually caring, I mean. I could definitely let them watch TV and occasionally toss them a snack, I guess, but doesn’t CPS frown on that? And I’m sorry, but if you’re working full time with your kids and mostly paying attention to your kids, you either have a joke job or you’re not very good at whatever it is you do. Some people will think working at home with kids is totally fine, and you’ll get the best of both worlds that way. Those people are crazy. You might think this is not very helpful advice, and it isn’t, but if you do work full time from home and have a nanny or daycare, when people give you a hard time now you can show them this. 🙂
You need to have kid specific time.
Do you like to sit there on your phone or laptop with a toy in your hand and halfway pay attention to both your kids and your work? I’ve got news for you. You’re actually slowing yourself down this way. We’ve all heard about the problems with multitasking, but it’s not just that. You don’t have to spend all day with your kids, but you do need quality time with them. That’s not me nagging you, that’s science. But regardless of science, I find that if I sit and play irritating games with my son for half an hour, he’ll leave me alone for half an hour. That means I can actually focus for thirty minutes. Not only do I get more done in a shorter period of time, but I also feel better about my parenting.
You have to leave the house.
It can be really tempting to stay at home forever when you work at home and your kids are there with you. Like, really tempting. But you do need to get out if you’re going to survive working at home with kids. For one thing, it’ll keep you from going stir crazy. For another, it will wear the kids out. That’s probably more important, isn’t it? Let them go crazy out in the real world so they sleep at home. I’m still relatively new in my city, so I joined a Meetup group for moms to help us all be social. I also discovered a coffee house that has a kids area in the back. There’s a ton of toys and an internet connection, so I can work while my son tests everything. That’s a great way to get out.
Prepping for naps is essential.
Naptime is the best time to work, right? Besides getting up early or going to bed late (hey – that’s what I’m doing right now!). But, moms are tired too once naptime rolls around. It can be really tempting to run around doing something else and avoiding work. That’s why it’s important to prep your work area before you put the kids down. If everything’s already ready to go, you don’t have an excuse not to work, plus you maximize your working time.
Get comfortable with change.
Kids change and grow all the time. One minute they’re napping three times a day, the next they’re fighting twenty minutes of sleep. Their food changes, their energy changes, everything changes. So if you’re going to survive working at home with kids, you absolutely have to be prepared to change your routine, well, routinely. The biggest changes will come if you add another kid to the mix, of course. It’s like juggling when someone keeps throwing random items into your circle. Routines are good for kids, so you don’t have to abandon them, but make sure you do an honest assessment of your work every couple of months or so. You might have to adjust yourself or the kids.