Is your workday continually interrupted by your kids? You no sooner start a task or pick up the phone than someone needs help or attention. Working from home when you have kids around can be a real challenge. Here’s how to find the time to work from home when you have kids. Working from home requires discipline and razor-sharp levels of organization at the best of times. Throw kids into the mix and sticking to your plans and keeping motivated, as well as stopping all those interruptions, requires zen-like patience too.
Here’s a 4-step plan to overcome the challenges of combining family life with work:
When running a business from home, it’s easy to let the phone calls, emails and paperwork keep you tied to your desk, making you feel that you don’t have time to take a break. Spending quality time with your family seems almost impossible.
So, you need to set limits by making a work schedule and sticking to it. If you spend all your time in front of your computer, you defeat the purpose of staying home with your kids. And your kids will start acting out, trying to get your attention even if it is negative attention.
Draw up a weekly schedule that honors your work commitments, but also means your kids get plenty of time too. Color coding the blocks of time on your schedule will mean that even younger kids can see at a glance when their time is coming up next.
Establish a Daily Routine
Create a daily routine or pattern for work and for family time. Start your day with breakfast at the table together, then take a walk together. Explain to the kids how the rest of the day will work and give them some things to look forward to later on, like a trip to the playpark in the afternoon, time at the pool, or simply a picnic lunch together in your backyard.
The ‘reward’ and promise of fun time later can be enough for the kids to do arts and crafts quietly for an hour giving you some time to work. Set up some craft stations, invitations to play or outdoor activities the night before so kids have something exciting and interesting to do while you work.
When it comes to work time, set your daily to do list and follow it diligently. Prioritize your activities so you get the most important things done first. If you get one or two big wins early in the day you will feel accomplished, and then you can get smaller bits of work done later in the day while the kids are busy playing, or even after they have gone to bed.
Working when you have kids at home requires a lot of flexibility. You may need to start getting up earlier to get work done in the morning or work after the kids have gone to bed. Carving out small pieces of time is a great way to get tasks done. Keep a list of things you can do in 10 minutes, 20 minutes and half an hour so you know what to do when you get a few minutes spare – or an interesting TV show is on.
You may need to get help in, either from your partner or a friend or relative. If necessary, hire a babysitter for a few hours a week so you can have business meetings on Zoom or call clients knowing the kids are occupied and won’t interrupt you.
If you’re willing to be flexible, kids and work CAN happily coexist. For instance, if your kids demand some attention during conventional workday hours, schedule a deliberate break during the day and then resume work when your partner is home to take over.
Set up Systems
From having a grandparent to babysit once or twice a week to setting up email autoreplies, systems are your friend. Have systems set up for every repetitive work function and task you perform. Then all you need do is follow the funnel you created for each batch of tasks. This works well for emails, invoicing, phone calls and other tasks you can batch together.
Set up an email autoreply that lists your work hours and gives people a realistic idea of when they might receive a response from you. Refer them to a FAQs section on your website that may help answer their query more quickly.
By restricting your work hours, you are making a commitment to your work and to your family. As important as your work is, you need to make time with your kids part of your routine so you can get more work done. Whether it’s time in the pool each afternoon, having every meal together at the table or outdoors, spending more time with your kids will actually help you to get more work time. Ultimately giving you the work-life balance you dream of.