My dream, probably like many of you, was always to work from home so that I could be around my kids more and have a flexible schedule. What I didn’t realize was how incredibly challenging that would be – to grow a business and a small human… at the same time.
Working from home while you have a new baby in the house or young kids running around the background, as many of us have now experienced while being quarantined at home, is just plain challenging. And there’s no manual for how to balance working from home AND raising your children.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years about how to juggle the two – there are no quick fixes but by planning ahead and remembering your priorities, hopefully the days will start to feel a little more manageable…
1. INVEST in childcare or a babysitter. Having help is essential to growing your business. You simply cannot watch children and work at the same time. It’s possible here and there, but not every day. So whether that’s hiring a babysitter or nanny who comes over for just 2 hours or a drop-off childcare center or even preschool or daycare, I have found that the only good solution to run my business is to get real help. Sometimes just having a babysitter come over for a few hours takes away so much stress. But if you can invest in anything, it should be in getting an extra hand with your children. Your children will be happier and you will be too!
2. Work can always wait. There are no design emergencies. Sometimes you have to drop everything and play with your children. I’ve found that taking even a 20 minute break to play on the floor with my kids really makes a difference. 20 minutes of undivided attention is always better than 1-2 minutes stolen throughout the day. And while work can be incredibly busy, I always remind myself — there is no such thing as a design emergency. The world will not fall apart if an email campaign isn’t designed by the end of day. Most things can actually wait.
3. Just be honest with your clients. Once I stopped trying to “hide” that I have kids at home while I’m working, my clients were all much more sympathetic and understanding. I am always upfront with new clients and let them know I have kids at home and I work strange hours at times. I’ve found that being honest about my work from home situation also helps clients know what to expect from phone calls with me (and they can certainly expect kids running around if they want to do a Zoom call).
4. Say no to phone calls and video calls as much as possible. My rule is if it can be done over email, then it should be. I try hard to limit unnecessary phone calls and I tell clients that we don’t do video calls (unless absolutely necessary). With video calls, if your children are home and they need something, you simply cannot get up and help them. If you’re not on video, you can multitask while listening to a call. So I’m a big fan of very little Zoom calls.
5. Sometimes an iPad and some snacks is all you need. There are times when you have to get a serious project or call done and you need your kids to cooperate. Set your kids up. Bring out some toys, stock them with snacks, put on a TV show they love or their ipad and let them play. One of the best things you can teach your kids, from an early age, is how to play on their own. This not only helps develop their creative minds, but it will help you in years to come. Letting them play alone is a good thing.
Working from home with your kids in the same house is incredibly hard and a definite balancing act. Just remember the reason you started. For me, I started my business so I could be around my kids more. I sometimes lose sight of that, but in the end, your kids come first…work can always wait.