If you're anything like me, you work from home so you can spend more time with your kids, right? But working from home can be tough because you have to juggle finding the time to work so you can pay the bills, while still spending time with the kids. You might be left wondering, "Are there enough hours in the day?".
Ways to Find Time to Work at Home When You Have Kids
- Kids first, work next. I know this seems impossible (and counterproductive) to do some days, but if you spend even a half an hour giving your kid(s) your undivided attention, they're (hopefully) going to be more likely to let you get your work done when the time comes. For me, weekends are kid time. I know a lot of moms that use weekends for blogging time while their partner takes care of the kids, but since mine works weekends it just ends up working best if I make weekends fun. I remind them that I work hard all week so we can afford to go and do fun stuff on the weekends. We couldn't afford that $200 yearly Zoo membership if Mom didn't work hard throughout the week to make it possible.
- Give experiences, not things. Instead of buying the kids gadgets, we work together to brainstorm ideas so we can give them experiences. This means they have something to look forward to when Mom is finished working, instead of me saying "go play with your toys" (which they're bored of within 5 minutes). If they give me peace and quiet to get a few hours of work in on Friday afternoon, perhaps we will go to the movies that evening. This can get expensive if you're not careful ($50 for a trip to the movies for our family), so don't make it an all the time thing - make it a reward!
- Work while the kids are asleep. If your kids are little and they still nap, you have the perfect opportunity to get a few hours of solid work in. However, I'm betting your house is a mess and it's time to put dinner on - so I recommend working after the kids are in bed for the night. My younger kids go to bed at 7:30 and then my oldest stays up til 8:00. They know that if they want to stay up til 7:30 and 8:00 they have to keep themselves occupied in their bedrooms quietly for the last half hour of the evening. That means I get from 7:00PM until I can't keep my eyes open to work on blog posts, answering emails and PMs, networking, etc. Sometimes that is 3-4 hours of uninterrupted work time, which is golden.
- Become BFFs with your slow cooker. I'm serious. It takes me ten minutes to throw a bunch of ingredients in the Crock Pot, and then it just cooks for a few hours and BAM dinner is ready. There are so many recipe ideas on Pinterest. Go wild.
- Avoid time suckers. This means Facebook, y'all! I know that some of you - like me - get lots of networking and work completed on Facebook. The thing is, though, we also get a lot of chatting in. So basically, be careful about what exactly you're doing while on Facebook. Ignore your notifications unless they're work related, and stay out of dramatic posts that will suck you in. If you're the type to get sucked into Pinterest, or reddit, or any other social network, make sure you block these sites during your work time. Using a site like ColdTurkey might help!
- Fail to plan, plan to fail. Having a plan in place will help you save time and streamline tasks. For example, if you're a blogger your plan might look something like what I have typed below. My best tip for bloggers is to write in batches! Doing a few posts at a time will send your productivity through the roof, trust me.- Brainstorm blog post ideas
- Find images for posts
- Write posts (or hire a VA to write it for you)
- SEO posts (Yoast is magic)
- Promote first post on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and newsletter
- NEXT POST...No matter what your plan is, it's just important that you have one. If one planning method doesn't work, try another - and another - until you get it just right.
- Focus on quality, not quantity. This applies to any industry, especially when you're posting on social media! Instead of posting 10 times a day, post 3 times a day but make sure the posts are all really high quality... things that will help your readers. You want to be known as a resource. Read more about giving "jabs" in Gary Vaynerchuk's book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (aff link). It taught me a lot about marketing, and was even the basis of one of the college marketing courses I took recently.The same goes for blog posts: 3 posts a week is plenty if they're amazing posts. I try to weave a few "real" posts in with my sponsored posts, and then I also make sure my sponsored posts are as interesting as possible - not spammy - so they don't waste my readers' time. Focusing on quality instead of quantity will increase your readership and decrease your workload tremendously.
- Hire a helper. Or two. I have a handful of Virtual Assistants I use on a regular basis (all graduates of my Virtual Assistant Training Program). Depending on your industry, a VA could do tons of things! I have a VA that helps me write sponsored posts, helps manage the ads on my blog, and also does reviews for me (she gets to keep the products). I have another VA that helps me with email, and yet another that helps me with all of the Facebook groups I own (which is like 30+ at this point... eek!). OH and another that helps me with my blog courses, and hangs out with me during brainstorming sessions. Each VA is great at what she does, and I only have to pay them based on the work they do. I don't pay any of them by the hour (though that is an option if it works for you), I just send them a quick email when I have a task for them and they let me know their price. If it works for me, I tell them to go ahead and start on the project.Another way to hire a helper would be to hire someone at home! I know many work at home moms that just can't keep up with the housework, and I don't blame them. If you can't get a wife like I did, you can hire a Mother's Helper. Even if she just comes by a few hours a day, she can hang out with the kiddos while she's doing laundry, dishes, and making dinner. I know rates vary on region, but I've seen ads for helpers for as little as $8 an hour. If you're working from home and being super efficient (which you're totally going to be since you read this post), you're making WAY more than 8 bucks an hour and you can afford that help! Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, which brings me to my next point.
- Invest in your business. I know this is tough, but if you're working from home you really do need to make sure you're using equipment that will stand by you - not a computer you have to replace every year, not a leaning chair that's going to give you back problems! You also need to make sure you're continually learning. I mean every single day, you've gotta learn something new. If this means buying a book (like the one I mentioned earlier!), subscribing to a membership service, or taking a class... do it! Obviously you'll need to make sure you do some research before jumping in and paying $299 for a conference or something, but in general you do need to make sure you're setting aside some funds to invest back into making your business better. For me, this means lots of gadgets, books, and conferences. Every single thing I purchase, I try to get my investment back on - and then some.
- Work remotely. If you absolutely can't slip away or get time away from the kids for work, bring them with! When my kids were younger, I spent hours upon hours in the McDonald's Play Place. Most disgusting place ever? Yes. But it was the one place I could go and be productive, get super fast wi-fi, not spend a ton of money, and wear my kids out all at once. The play areas are usually really small so my kids are RIGHT THERE - no wondering where the heck they went and having to search for them. Plus, they're exhausted after an hour or two, which means a very productive nap time for Mom!
- Include them when possible. Sometimes, you'll need an uninterrupted work space. Other times, you can get creative and include them in your work processes. This won't really work too well if you have toddlers, I guess, but I've always tried to include my kids when it comes to blogging. Whether they're helping me with a recipe, posing for pictures, or just keeping the dogs from chewing up papers in my office, I try to put them to "work" when I can. Now that they're older, Gracelynn (10) helps me write blog posts, and is even learning some HTML. Sapphire (9) is a handful, but sometimes she will help take pictures or stage them for our Etsy shop. Jenelle (14) has been making and packaging jewelry orders for about 3 years now. They can usually do more than we give them credit for, so try and give them a "job". Bonus: Feeling productive can also help their self-esteem!
- Unplug. Not tomorrow, not "when this project is finished". Literally, just take a few hours to unplug from everything. Turn your phone off - or at least turn notifications/texts to silent so you're not buzzing constantly. Step away from the computer, unplug all the gadgets ... just get away from it all. Even if that means heading outside to sit on the front porch, or snuggling up in a chair and reading a book, do something mindless that gives you a break from everything for a few hours. I promise if you let yourself relax - even just a little - you'll be more productive when you get back to working on your projects and such. Plus, your family will appreciate your undivided - unplugged - attention... trust me.