Can You Be Productive and Work From Home With Kids?
Is it possible to get anything done when you’ve got kids at home?
Being a work from home parent is hard. There’s this guilty voice in the back of your head telling you that you’re not good enough.
That guilty voice whispers:
If you don’t spend time with the kids now, they’ll grow up before you know it.
What’s more important: Business or quality time with the kids?
You’re either spending too much time with business stuff and missing out on your family, or you’ve neglected the business in favour of spending more time with the kids. There’s always some form of neglect. Or at least it feels like it. There’s never a happy middle.
You’re too busy to relax because you’re raising your kids in the same place where you’re trying to run a business — from home.
It feels like there’s not enough time to do it all.
As a work from home mother, my day is filled with a constant cycle of cooking, feeding, playing and cleaning in between working for my family business.
In her article about how to be productive when you work from home, Claire J. Harris shares the difficulty of getting work done when you work from home.
Throw some kids into the mix and you’ve got a whole new level of not getting things done.
After struggling to find a middle ground, I’ve finally started using strategies in order to be more productive in both my business and in my family life.
I should put a caveat here that if you have a newborn then you can pretty much throw this advice out the window. My life didn’t get into a business/family routine until my youngest son turned one.
Learn to prioritise
This first strategy sounds pretty straightforward but can cause the most pain. Choosing to prioritise tasks in your day can be hard work.
It’s so much easier to let the frenzy of the day take over. But once I write my list of priorities it makes my day more productive. There’s structure in the chaos.
I try to prioritise at least one family task in between business tasks each day. Because otherwise I’d be consumed with work and my kids would hate me. When my workday finishes then it’s family time. And when the kids go to sleep it’s writing time.
Schedule and planners
I love planners and use more than one to schedule my day. They’re my guilty pleasure (dorky, I know) but they help to schedule my priorities.
They’re also a great reminder of the tasks I need to complete when I’ve got brain fog because I’ve been up all night with a teething toddler.
Get the kids to help you clean
If your young ones are anything like mine, they love to “clean.” Sure, they might not get much actual cleaning done, but if I give my one-year-old a duster he’ll be content to “clean” the house for at least ten minutes. And that’s ten precious minutes I get to do actual work. Or take a break if I need it.
I’m not a clean freak, so any kind of cleaning help is great. It also teaches your kids a valuable life skill, and I plan to raise boys who know how to clean.
Give in to guilty pleasures like “me time”
When you have young kids, silence is a foreign word and “me time” rarely exists. But it’s important to take care of yourself because how can you take care of your kids and your business if you’re not well?
Do what you need to do to keep your mind and body healthy, positive and happy. If that means having your chocolate cake and eating too, then so be it. Or for planner-lovers, that might mean spending a lazy Sunday surrounded by felt-tip pens, washi tape and 100gsm paper.
Working from home with kids is never going to be easy. There’s no “secret formula” that will suddenly give you all the time in the world to be super productive.
However, as a parent, you’re probably used to adapting to circumstances. Change is a familiar routine (if that’s even possible.) Just like when you thought your newborn was an awesome “through the night” sleeper, suddenly they turn 6 months old and you’re back to waking up every hour. What the?
But with persistence and routine, your work/home life can become productive. It will only get easier as your kids grow older and become less dependent on you, right?
Lana Graham is Editor of Mama Write. She writes about parenting and her writing journey and lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner (her rock) and their three amazing sons. If you’d like my 3 Top Tips for being a successful new writer on Medium, then click here.