Survival Guide

Survival Guide to Working at Home with Kids

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.

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids
You can trust me, look how fancy my office is.

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. ūüôā

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.

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids
They wind down, you power up.

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.

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids

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What to Know about Blogging Time Commitments

Thinking about starting a blog? Then you probably need to know something about blogging time commitments. Look, I’m no expert on blogging, I’ll be honest about that. But I have perfected the art of not having time to do anything, so you can trust me when I tell you a blog can rule your life if you let it. So, before we get into that, you may be wondering why I’m writing about blogging at all. Let me tell you all a little something about my daily life. Once a day someone says to me, “You’ve got your hands full,” especially when I’m walking my two dogs, wearing my daughter, and pushing my son in his stroller. Once a week, someone asks, “How do you get anything done?” I decided it’s time to write about it.

When someone asks me how I get anything done, I usually tell them it’s easy, I’m a bad mom and a bad employee. Poor quality takes no time at all! They laugh, and then they say, “It’s sleep, right? You don’t sleep?” Yes. They are correct. Sleep is for the weak. And the healthy. Anyway, after that they want actual detailed advice, usually in email form, so I decided to add a weekly post to the blog that discusses things like how I hate schedules. If you’re here for entertaining posts only, Saturdays will still be for you. Fellow busy moms, work-from-homers, and bloggers, Mondays are the day to see how I manage to do it all and only partially lose my mind. So, let’s get to it!

Blogging Time Commitments (for monetized blogs)

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how much time do you have? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

1. Writing Blog Posts – 30 minutes per post

Real fast, I am only discussing blogging time commitments for monetized blogs. If you aren’t trying to make money, or at least doing what I do and daydreaming about trying to make money without really trying, you aren’t going to be doing half of this. You’ll just be writing to your heart’s content, I assume. On with it. You know what’s the easiest part of blogging? Writing the posts. Think about it. It’s typically 300-1000 words about something you WANT to write about, not a term paper you’re trying to avoid. Not exactly time consuming. Of course, how many you want to write is up to you. I know some people will be faster or slower depending on typing and whether or not they grammar good, but as long as you know what you want to write it should be easy.

2. Photos – 20 minutes with stock photos, eternity if you take them yourself

Eternity might be a slight exaggeration. Just a slight one though, taking pictures is exhausting. First of all, half of them suck, and secondly even the good ones need to be edited. Granted, I’m not a photographer, but I would think actual photographers take even longer. They would need to put up their best work, whereas mine just has to be usable. Looking up stock photos usually goes really quick, but only if you know what you want before you start. If you don’t, I suggest taking some time while you’re cooking dinner or something and visualizing it. Then you’ll know the keywords to look up. PS – these are all stock photos. Eight minutes.

3. Social Media – At least 30 minutes a day

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how much time do you have? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Unless you’ve hired a virtual assistant to do this for you, you will have to handle your own marketing for your blog. This is my least favorite of the blogging time commitments. Before I started blogging I had a Facebook I checked once a week, and now I use hashtags with ease. Now, I know thirty minutes a day probably sounds like a lot to new bloggers, and like a joke to pros, but let’s just assume you’ll want to check your Twitter or Instagram once a day. Perhaps you’ll want to join in on some Facebook group threads, or schedule a week of posts. The thirty minutes isn’t a firm number, but it is firm that if you ever think you’re going to make money, you can’t skip social media. You just can’t. So, plan to spend time on it, whether you like it or not.

4. Research – Varies

What will you be researching? I have no idea. But I can tell you you’ll be researching something. Perhaps it’s SEO, or how to set up a business Pinterest account, or what the heck is a linkup party. Maybe you need to do a research heavy blog post, like I did with parties for pay. You could see the coolest thing ever on someone else’s blog and become obsessed with figuring out how to do it. Or, heaven forbid, you might have a technical problem. Basically, you can assume that one of your widest varying blogging time commitments is going to be research, if you want to have a cool, functioning website that people actually want to visit.

5. Pinterest – Double what you do anyway

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how much time do you have? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

No, Pinterest is not social media. It’s a search engine. You don’t post pictures of your kids there, do you? Comment on your friends’ vacation pictures? Nope. It’s Google, but with pictures. You’ll probably read over and over that Pinterest is going to bring you most of your traffic, and it’s true. Unless you are a SEO genius, you’ll wind up on Pinterest eventually. Now, Pinterest is pretty saturated in the US, so there’s a good chance you use it personally anyway. Double the time you spend on it daily because you’re going to need to make your own pins as well as find others. Yes, there are ways to speed up your Pinterest usage with schedulers, but you won’t be at the set it and forget it part for a while.

6. Other – Whatever you’re willing

I have to confess something. My blog is monetized, and I have written one sponsored post, but that post came to me and I would be on Amazon anyway so I joined their affiliate program. I have no idea how much time it would take to really go after the money, because I don’t have time for it. I also only look at Google Analytics for about five minutes once a week, which I know is really stupid, but guys, I have another job and my boss is the worst (I’m self-employed). Plus there’s those little kids I’m supposed to be responsible for. Any better bloggers than me reading this? Comment with how much time this stuff takes you.

You should know that your blogging time commitments will only grow once you get into it. That is, if you enjoy doing it. You’ll start coming up with new and terrible ways to let it take up your time. If you’re good at it, it could eventually take you forty hours a week! That’s like a full-time job! Ah! But it is fun to do, and FYI, this 1100 word post just took me 28 minutes. I’m outta here!

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

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How to Manage Time if You Hate Schedules

I hate schedules. I shouldn’t. I’m busy all the time, and it would make sense for me to schedule my days out.¬†¬†But the truth is, what works for me isn’t what works for most people. As a virtual bookkeeper, my schedule rotates throughout the fiscal year. I barely worked last month, but I was full time in February and March (tax season) and I will be again in August and September. I now have two kids under two who have evolving sleep schedules. My dad, who helps me out when he can, is on shift work so even my child care is inconsistent. Oh yeah, and this blog? It takes up time too. I could quit, but I enjoy it, so it stays on my to-do list.

Despite all I have going on, the fact that I hate schedules hasn’t really hurt me, even though all the experts agree you need one. I’m good at changing things up – actually, I used to do that in offices anyway, just to keep myself entertained. ¬†But, I get that not everyone is. ¬†I decided that since my upcoming fun hosting posts don’t have pictures to accompany them yet (I didn’t want to do too much on my two week maternity leave – I’m not that much of a slave driver) I’d go ahead and talk about my strategies to avoid scheduling. I’ve read approximately half of the¬†250 million time management theories, so obviously I’m super qualified.

Use a To-Do List

One of my more easily accomplished lists.

I’ve spoken of my to-do list before. I currently use Wunderlist for myself and Trello for my clients, but I can’t plug either of them. Microsoft bought Wunderlist to do away with it, which crushed me, but I’ll survive. I could move everything to Trello, but honestly, it’s not for me. I like a simple checklist. When did everything go to boards? It’s kind of dumb. Anyway, the point is if you’re not going to use a calendar, you need to have something else to keep you on track. You may not check your emails precisely at 10:00 A.M., but you do need to check them at some point. Put that on a to-do list, cross it off when you’re done, have one less thing to worry about doing. Sometimes just having the to-do list makes me work quickly simply because I want my list to be shorter.

Choose Your Priorities

Honestly, my kids run the show. I don’t work from home because I hate people or because I can’t get a job. I work from home so I can be with my children. Once they’re in school I’ll start the job search again. I’m not full time, but having the clients I do prevents gaps in my resume so I don’t get charged a higher¬†mommy tax. Hopefully. Anyway, ¬†they’re number one, so I won’t have client calls while they’re awake. But… those little rugrats don’t pay me. So sometimes, unfortunately, I have to skip an art project and do some accounting instead. Returning phone calls has to take precedence over laundry. If you hate schedules, you have to accept that sometimes you can’t get everything done. Either have a makeup day once in awhile or just let it go.

Be Strategic with Sleep

Basically I just test my pillow for firmness and then wake back up.

What a weird thing to say, right? Sleep is super important. Everyone knows this. But I don’t have time to do what I do and sleep the recommended amount of hours, at least not at once. Before you start freaking out that I’m advising you to be unhealthy, remember that I have a newborn so my situation is a little different. If my first is any indication, my next full night of sleep will be in late 2018. That doesn’t mean I have to be tired all the time. It means I have to have a plan. It is possible to switch up your own sleep schedule, and that’s what I had to do.

I didn’t change my schedule up a lot. Actually, it was only a one hour difference. Instead of going to bed at midnight, when I could barely function enough to do any work, and getting up at six with my son, I started going to bed at eleven and waking up at five. Wah-lah. That’s an extra hour by myself in the morning, when I’m refreshed and ready to work. You might not be a morning person, so maybe you will need to change your sleep the other way around or add naps or something, but a little change in sleeping habits might go a long way.

If You Hate Schedules, Stop Scheduling

Freeeeeeddddddooooommmmmm!!!!

I have a client who has used every scheduling system in the book. Every. Single. One. For whatever reason, he thinks that there will be some magical scheduling device that forces him to do what he is supposed to do during the day. Like me, he’s a self-employed parent who prioritizes his kids. Unlike me, he refuses to simply say, “I hate schedules and they don’t work for me.” People, don’t believe everything you read. Not working set hours isn’t going to kill you. It’s not going to make you less productive if you’re not producing anything anyway. If all you do all day is rearrange your schedule because you’ve gotten behind on something, give it up. ¬†Go on, tear that schedule up, delete it, whatever. Don’t you feel better already?

 

Managing your time when you're super busy can be difficult, especially if you hate schedules, but it can be done! #timemanagement