I’ve been working from home for about eight years. In that time I also had three children. This year, Twiggy (who also works from home) and I will have two full days a week when we are child-free. This will be the first time since we both started our own businesses. We are super excited to finally be able to have sex with the door open and to be able to structure our days however we won’t, not just around the demands of kids.
School holidays are particularly tricky though as our kids are all home. Not only do we have to still meet our clients’s needs, we also have to ensure our children also have a great time and most importunely we get some down time to spend it together as a family.
Here’s some tips for working at home during school holidays:
1) Plan an activity for every day.
A trip to the pool, a visit to the museum or a movie are just some things you can do that don’t take up the entire day, which means you can also schedule in some work before or afterwards and the kids get out of the house and do something fun.
This is an essential tool of parenting and working from home. I could not get through a working day without it.
3) It’s ok for your kids to get bored.
It is not essential for your children to always have something to do. Sometimes you can let them find their own joy. You are not their event planner. Being bored is a good way to encourage creativity and let your kids know the world does not always revolve around them.
4) Ice blocks and iPads.
I have been known to put an entire packet of biscuits on the floor and tell the kids to go for it, while I’ve conducted a phone interview. The same goes for ice blocks, lollipops and iPads. Trust me it works.
5) Work at night or get up early.
I know a heap of people who will only work at night after their kids have gone to bed or in the morning before they wake up. And sometimes you have no choice but to do both. You do get a lot done without your kids asking for food every five minutes.
6) Arrange a sleepover or play activity.
Getting your kids out of the house will always help you get work done. And when you’re not busy you can do the same for another parent. Kids are always easier when there’s bunch of them anyway.
7) Take turns to work.
Twiggy and I break the day up so we can work uninterrupted. I will close the door and write for a couple of hours and then we swap so he can edit photos or do accounting. It works really well and it also gives us some alone time with the kids.
8) Be organised.
I often work my arse off in the lead up to holidays in an attempt to get as many of my articles done before the kids finish school. It makes for a crazy couple of weeks, but it’s so worth it. I also write a lot of to-do lists.
9) Get a babysitter.
If you’re lucky enough to have someone you can call on to help out, then do that. We have my mum who is amazing in times of mounting deadlines. The kids have a lot of fun with her and we get a chance to work.
10) Give them an activity to do.
Set up the dining table with a heap of craft or give them instructions to build a cubby house or make a treasure map. Remember your kids are used to teachers giving them things to do. If they’re engaged in a cool activity they’ll be less likely to harangue you while you’re working.
And sometimes when all else fails, you just have to try and extend any deadlines or rearrange your meetings to suit your needs. Most clients are understanding, many have kids themselves and if you’ve always delivered high quality work on time, they will almost always cut you some slack. And if the deadlines are not movable you’ll just have to pull an all-nighter. Work’s important, so is family. They can coexist, you’ve just got to find your own way of doing things.
Do you work from home? Do you have any tips to add?