Just before we became first-time parents, I was still studying for my degree and Jamie (my partner) wasn’t yet employed; having just recently found the career path he wanted to take. Now my two-year-old son is in nursery (albeit only one day a week) and will soon be starting preschool, it’s been interesting thinking about how I’ve got on working from home with being a full-time parent too.
Shortly after our son was born I chucked myself back into my work and before I knew it, I was running several blogs and freelance writing, all while being a full time parent.
I have never known anything different than juggling work with family life, as I became self-employed shortly after starting a family. So, I have put together some of my top tips for balancing it all.
Create an Office
As soon as I knew that I was going to work from home on a more permanent basis, I immediately created a little work space set-up in our small dining room. The set-up was tiny but it was productive and it worked. If you’re anything like me, you will find it much easier to switch off in an office, when you’re able to work alone of course! Fast forward on a couple of years and I now have a fully-fledged office upstairs which I shut myself away in after bedtime.
Schedules Are Awesome
Create a schedule for housework and deadlines, and put all your family activities on the calendar! Juggling parenting, work-life and housework is a tough task to take on single handedly and can get overwhelming, very quickly. So plan it all out ahead of time.
First things first, many people who are self-employed or work from home talk of this ‘work-family balance’ and I will be the first person to tell you that it doesn’t exist – sorry! At least not perfectly. What I’ve found helps me is having a schedule for everything, so I know where I need to be and what needs to be done on what days. If your children are anything like mine, they control the TV, so I thankfully never have to worry about falling victim to the daytime TV trap. I personally use a housework schedule (that has been stuck to the door of my fridge) that tells me what needs to be done on what days and I also have a clear work structure set out. The moments in-between these times is when I spend time with my son. I also find it helps to organise my work load by how long each task takes – so when I have a few minutes’ spare I’ll get on with something productive.
My partner and I both do a lot of work from home and despite our evenings being typically spent apart concentrating on our individual projects, we always make sure that every weekend we give ourselves a minimum of an hour each to do whatever we want – alone! Aside from our family activities that fill most the weekend, we get to watch some uninterrupted TV, listen to music, read a book… whatever we wish to do that day! After all the hard work we’ve put in during the week we deserve to let off a little steam. Although, admittedly we don’t always have the time to fit it in but we try our best to keep to it as much as possible because it helps with keeping us motivated.
Get Inventive with Your Working Hours
One of the best advantages with working from home is the working hours. Not only can you operate outside of the typical working hours but you can also alter your working hours to suit your needs, as and when. Every evening I will work up until 10pm, depending on the work I have on.
Being a full-time parent there is no such thing as uninterrupted working hours, during the daytime, especially if you have young kids. During the day time a lot of my work is done on the kitchen work tops while I secretly munch my way through some snacks. This way, I sometimes manage to get a 30-minute block of writing done. I have even been known to work while running around the house with a toddler chasing after me.
Re-Evaluate What You’re Doing
Re-evaluate and do it frequently! Find out what isn’t working for you, your family and your clients and make a list. Whatever needs some attention and doesn’t seem to be working – change it. Over the past two years my work and housework schedule has had a lot of improvements and adjustments because a lot of how I was doing things just wasn’t working, and never did. Don’t get stuck in a schedule for long, that just doesn’t work for you.