Working from home in itself can be a challenge sometimes, but add kids to the mix and you are in for some trying times at your desk. From the guilt of not being fully present with them, to having an ever growing workload piling up in your mind, the mental strain it can put on you is a lot to deal with. Thanks to COVID-19 we are seeing more and more Australians working from home around their children. As a business owner I have been working from home for 2 years and during this time have discovered some really useful ways to balance everything you need to.
So while some of these suggestions might not work for you I encourage you to alter or use them as a base to work off, because I can honestly say without implementing these strategies and removing the guilt from my decisions, I would not be able to run a successful business.
Firstly, you need to plan your day, there is no way you will get anything done without having it pre-planned first. Sit down the night before and take the time to complete the following categories.
Can be done around kids
Non Essential Tasks
Creating marketing emails
Writing a blog post
Posting to social media
Replying to comments
Listing tasks for tomorrow
Creating 6 months worth of content (this task needs a full day)
Re designing product labels you already have
Above, I have listed some items I would call essential and non-essential in my business. Most of the non-essential tasks are things that will take more than 1 hour to complete or are an added bonus to my business if I get time. This list is hard to decipher at the start because as a small business everything is ‘essential’. My tip, break it down it realistic tasks you know will be completed within 30 minutes to an hour.
Secondly, set a start and a finish time. Don’t flounder through your day trying to wear 30 different hats. For me, I wake up 1 hour before the boys, make a coffee and jump onto my emails. I set everything up for my day. 6am – 7am is my work time (depending on my 4 month old’s sleeping pattern). I also ALWAYS work in my office, if I set my laptop up on the couch I am getting nothing done. Move to an area of the house you wont be distracted, for me I like to watch the outside world and my office is in our front room, it works perfectly.
From 7 am – 9 am I am present with my boys, we have breakfast, play games and chit chat about what the day will bring. By 9am Theo goes down for his first sleep and Myles has some play time in his toy room, if he wants some extra attention I make it clear that I have a couple of work things I need to do and then I am all his and he can pick what he wants to play (normally a board game). By 9:15 am I am back in the office and completing my set tasks for the day. It’s also helpful to note, I make him a lunchbox everyday, this helps remove all the times I would need to leave the office and make him a snack and also places some normality into his day.
If I am finished my daily essential tasks early, I will move onto tomorrows essential tasks, because we all know kids are unpredictable and just because we had a good day today doesn’t mean it will be the same tomorrow.
I generally finish my workload by 11:30-12pm (you’d be surprised how much you can get done in a short amount of time when you are in a state of flow). Once finished I put my mum hat on, I get dinner prepped and spend some quality time with the boys. Once Nathan finishes work we swap, I jump back into the office and work on my non-essential tasks and anything that hasn’t been completed from earlier in the day. Most of the time I am finished work by 5pm, if not I pause what I am doing and complete the dinner, bath, bed routine. I then spend an hour with Nathan and head back into the office.
This process might seem like a lot, but for us, it works perfectly and gives us the best of both worlds, being home with our kids and running our businesses.
- Have a game plan and stick to it
- Leave the parent guilt at the door
- Explain to your child why you are working and what it creates for your family
- Prepare a lunchbox for each child
- Utilise nap time to get as much done as possible
- Have a work hat and a parent hat
- Only do household duties when the parent hat is on
- Have a designated work space that makes you feel motivated
- Let them colour or ‘work’ next to you if they feel left out
- If you think there needs are not being met, reassess your plan and pivot your timeframe to put their welfare first
- Have a start and finish time – or block times
- Only complete essential tasks where possible and map out what that looks like
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