If you caught my previous post, you might remember me tossing out tips about work-at-home-parenting. If you'd like to go back and read it, please do. If not, just know that working from home while also staying home with your kids can be a difficult jungle to navigate.
The kind of jungle that takes a daily gallon of coffee and locking yourself in the bathroom for five blissful minutes of kid-free Snapchat.
There's a lot to this whole work-at-home-parenting gig, so I've broken it down into to two parts. The main takeaways from the first part were:
- Isolate your workspace.
- Designate specific work times.
- Communicate your work needs.
- Be kind to yourself.
I'm going to go ahead and jump right in with the next few main points (since I've only got an hour before preschool gets out).
Make the most of your time.
If you've managed to designate specific work times throughout the day, it's important to make sure you use that time wisely. I know work (no matter how much you like it) doesn't sound nearly as fun as watching Friends bloopers on YouTube, but I can promise you that your evenings will thank you for putting your nose to the grindstone.
If you don't cross things off your to-do list during the precious work time you've carved out, there's a good chance you'll need to work after your kids are in bed, or even during the evening or afternoon when you're supposed to be spending time with them. The parenting guilt will creep in, and then a relaxing, enjoyable evening will seem like a mythical beast you can never catch.
When I'm struggling to motivate myself, I turn to the Pomodoro Technique. This technique simply breaks your workload into 25 minute chunks mixed with 5 minute breaks. It's a great way to make your work less intimidating and get those to-dos crossed off your list.
Figure out some form of childcare.
Even if you've managed to train your kids to leave you alone while you work, it's still important to line up some form of childcare to nail down a few regular work hours. I've had great success with hiring an in-home childcare provider (college students going into the education field are a great resource) who can play with my kids in the safety of my own home while I work. Additionally, when my youngest became old enough to attend preschool, I found the regularity of the school's schedule a welcome relief.
If paying for childcare or preschool isn't an option, consider working out a babysitting trade with some of your friends. Even if your friend doesn't work from home like you, I'm positive he or she would love a regular three hour slot each week to wander aimlessly through Target drinking a latte.
At the very least, find someone you can designate an "emergency deadline" babysitter. If work has piled up and you need to turn in a project by 5 pm on Tuesday, having someone available for crunch time is priceless.
Don't spend all your free time working.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard a wide-eyed young entrepreneur say "If you find a job you love you'll never work a day in your life."
Yes. Yes, I get the sentiment and agree to a certain extent. Find a career that doesn't make you want to pull your hair out… find a career you actually enjoy.
I do not, however, think that the perfect career means you'll want to do it all the time. Even if I had my dream job of creating the names of cosmetic colors (I don't know what you call that — "nailpolish namer?"), I'd need a break from it every once in awhile.
If you've got a pocket of free time and don't have any pressing deadlines, do something fun. Do something relaxing. You need rest and a little leisure time to recharge your motivation and quality of work.
Working from home while parenting is no walk in the park.
Well, it might be, but you'll likely be pushing someone on a swing rather than pushing buttons or paper.
But that's why we're working from home in the first place, right?