If I could come up with the most ideal situation it would be working from home. I have been a stay-at-home mom since I was pregnant with my first child — nearly 8 years ago. It was what I had always wanted, to be able to stay home with my kids, engage them and watch them grow. My husband and I had planned for it to be possible and yet when I was in it, I felt like something was missing.
It’s seems to be rare when I am to be a stay at home mom and people would run out of things to talk to me about, quickly. They asked how the kids were, referenced my husband’s job, and that was nearly it. I also had a harder time relating to other’s because I spent my day talking to people who did not yet talk back.
I felt very isolated and like I no longer had a voice, so I sought that out. I found it and I could not be happier. I make my living as a freelance writer, working for various sites that allow me to share my voice and connect with others. It’s really the best of both worlds because I make a good income with a home office and still being the primary caregiver of my children.
There are certainly some difficult things about working from home, but for me and our situation, it really is the best of both worlds. I get to have my cake and eat it too, as they say. Now that I have the kids home with me all the time in the summer (the school year I had one child away 5x a week, another away at school 2x a week and one home full time with me), I have learned some new ways to get my stuff done. I don’t have a babysitter or caregiver for my kids, my work load has not decreased and yet I still manage to get it all done in the chaos and not feel like I am losing my mind.
Things will re-adjust again this fall when all three kids are in school — two full time and one gone 2x a week. Then, at the end of the year it will all go into a new adjustment period as I add a 4th child into the mix. For now, there are 6 tips I can share for making working at home possible with no babysitter.
Put your office in the middle of the chaos
I used to have an office in the house with a door and a lock, but that quickly changed. For me to do that, I would need to have someone here with the kids to play with them, watch them, and get whatever they’re needing at the moment. I have since moved my “office” consisting of a laptop and hard drive into the living room. I work on the edge of the couch while the kids hang out with me in the living room. I take breaks often to get them a snack, put a dress on a Barbie, or quickly build a new Lego contraption with my son. Of course, doing this I get thrown off track often, but I work well in the chaos and noise.
Keep a routine
I have a good routine going with the kids where they know what I am doing and when. We have breakfast in the morning then they brush their teeth and play for a while and I get to work for a bit. We have set times for playing all together or reading or summertime French books, and going out side. I’ve had this routine for a while now — even when the kids are in school and it’s been working really well for all of us. I am interested to see how this routine gets thrown off when I have a newborn again.
Encourage independent play
I am a big advocate for independent play. I think it fosters great imagination and it encourages my kids to get along. I know that often siblings are said to fight and argue all the time, but honestly it’s rare from my kids. They play together very well and when there is a conflict, I try not to intervene right away so they can work it out themselves. Right now while I am writing this post, the three kids are on the floor in front of me playing Lego together.
Work off hours
I used to get a lot of work done way back in the day when my kids actually napped. Now, if I have plans with them during the day that include something fun like going to the water park or game day, I work off hours. I am lucky that my job has a lot of flexibility and as long as I meet my deadlines and goals, it’s up to me when I work. While I do get the bulk of my work done during regular work hours, there are times where I will work ahead in the mornings before the kids get up (and enjoy the quiet too).
Be realistic in your work load
Last summer I made the mistake of taking on extra projects that had a great pay with it, but threw off the balance at home. Being realistic in what you can fit into your daily or weekly calendar is important as is re-balancing the work load at home. My husband has taken on more of the household duties since I started to work more and more and it’s had a huge benefit for my work.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
I know that there are many people who say that putting in a movie or giving your child a tablet to play with is not the best parenting decision. I have a feeling they’re the same type of people who don’t always agree with independent play either. While that may be best for your family and parenting, it doesn’t always work with me and there are times where the kids are watching a movie (like right now, hello Alvin and the Chipmunks) or playing a learning game on their iPad or Nexus. They’re still in the same room as I am always available when they need a cuddle, kiss, or food (which is all the time).
If I have a conference call or video interview I do have a babysitter here for about an hour or I can ask my kids to play quietly in the basement until I’m finished. They’re, thankfully, old enough to understand that I am working and play really well together. There are also times, where I know a busy week is coming up where I will work for 8+ hours on the weekend when my husband is home with the kids.
It’s not that I have anything against a babysitter, trust me, there are some times I wish I could just focus on my work. This is what works for us when finding a babysitter outside family is not possible and my desire to be home with my kids all the time.
:: How do you make it all work? Do you have a babysitter come in to help out? Work in an office outside the house? ::
Photo credit: image adapted from kurafire | FlickrShare This Post: Tweet