I know what you're thinking. What crazy person would ever want to work at home with a toddler running around and causing mayhem and just generally being a toddler? This crazy lady! I have worked from home with my toddler for almost two years, since my daughter was born. She only just recently started daycare, going one day a week, so I still work from home with her the other four business days. I'm not going to lie, it's a special type of balance that neither working outside the home mums or stay at home mums seem to get. I do though, have a deep respect for both of those mums, because I know how hard both of those jobs are.
When I started working from home, I knew I would have to be disciplined. I couldn't get distracted by T.V or my phone or 'just check the fridge quickly.' Working from home requires discipline. Working from home with kids? That needs something else entirely! (Coffee and wine, mostly!) But it is possible! And for me, it is very rewarding to be at home and be the 'stay at home mum' I always envisioned I would be while also having a job, and some identity outside my role as 'mother.'
So if you want to learn how to work at home with kids, read my ultimate guide below!
What you will need:
- A laptop with a long battery life
- A pram/carrier/something to put your child in for a few minutes
Disclaimer: You will still feel mum guilt. When your child is demanding attention and you know you HAVE to reply to this email, you will hate yourself for it later. Mum guilt is inevitable.
For myself, there was a lot of trial and error to find out what worked and what didn't when trying to fit both work and kids together. Obviously, working when they are asleep is when you are probably going to get the most done. For the first year of my little one's life however, she wouldn't sleep anywhere but in my arms so that made thing's difficult. In the early days, I did almost everything on my phone, or strapped her in the Ergo carrier and worked on the computer with her on me. Now she naps and sleeps in her own bed, which makes things a hell of a lot easier. You will also need to figure out what time works best for you. You might find it better to wake up before your child to get some work done, or you might find it easier to work after they have fallen asleep at night. It's all about personal preference and what works for you and your family.
While they're awake, it can be more difficult. Like working from home without kids, it can be hard to keep focus. I like to set a timer of 10 minutes and in that time I will do as much work as possible, then go and play with my little one and make sure all her needs are met. Sometimes it's a little longer, sometimes it's a little shorter, but usually that is the magic number and is how long she will keep her attention span without needing me.
Rotating toys is also something that can be kids distracted for a longer amount of time. Keep toys on rotation and your child is less likely to get bored as quick or feel overwhelmed from choices if the toys seem "new."
Treat It Like School
Every night before bed I pack or prep our lunch for the next day. If we are going out of the house clothes are laid out. It cuts so much time when you're in the rush of the day and trying to do everything and I find she really likes having her own lunchbox where she can "pick" what food she wants at meal times.
Leave The House
Maybe it's just me, as I get Cabin Fever very quickly, but leaving the house is so helpful at getting work done for me. We are Zoo and Aquarium members, so we go fortnightly (at least), where she can run around and burn up energy, and on the train trip home she can sleep in the pram and I can get work done in silence the entire train trip home. This is when a laptop with a long lasting battery is handy as you can do work on the go. Indoor play centres are also a GOD SEND (find one with free wifi - Lollipops Carrum Downs is my go to), as your supervision isn't needed as much as a park (as you are in an enclosed space), which gives you a little more freedom to do some work.
So now you have the basic tools to help work at home from kids, you are only missing one thing - your mum tribe! Find other mums in business like you who GET IT! It can be incredibly lonely working from home, especially with children, and you need to fill up your cup on the regular with other women who get the struggle. It is incredibly hard, but worth every second of it.