Working from Home with Kids

A guest post by Kelly Burstow of Be A Fun Mum

What was I thinking? Sure. Sure. Work from home. Yep, I have a little spare time now most the kids are at school. Should be fun! Talk about a steep learning curve. Running a business from home when your children are young (or any age for that matter) is challenging. Like, I-am-going-to-climb-a-mountain challenging. There it is. On the table. No sugar coating. However, I love working from home. I love the flexibility of being able to pick up my sick child from school or drop in a forgotten lunch. I love going to the park across the road and meeting friends for coffee. And it can be fun! So how do you find the balance of actually getting work done and still having time to play with the kids? Below are six tips:

1. Perspective
My first job is Mum. Every time. And I often remind myself of this. I’ve learnt to pull myself up when I’m constantly saying “just a minute” and take the time to stop when I need to. You work from home. You have kids. It’s never going to be conducive to perfect working conditions but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a positive thing. It’s important for me to dedicate time to spend with my children without distractions or I always am caught up with writing “just one more email”.

2. Establish a work area
For the entirety of 2010, I had no designated work space. It was pretty much me and my laptop wherever I could find a bit of space. I didn’t function very well. I’m blessed with a relatively large family so at present, I don’t have the luxury of a spare room but have created a “work” space. This has been important for my productivity because everything I need is there where I need it, and I can pick up from where I left off at any time.

As you can see, I’ve utilised the spare space in the eating area for my “office”. It’s “my” space and the kids know it.

3. Do a little housework first

If you’re like me, the washing will sit in the basket and the kids know to go there to look for clothes rather than in their draws. If I don’t do 30 minutes of housework before I do other jobs, the house doesn’t function well and, after a while, it impacts on the family. I’m not talking about a few busy days when you let the house go, but the commitment to running a harmonious family. And in the end, a harmonious family is helpful for my productivity anyway. I work best when I can focus without the I-haven’t-hung-out-the-washing guilt hanging over me. So I throw myself into 30 minutes of housework a day so I can keep the house running.

4. Find your window of inspiration
You know when everything comes together and you get so much done? Yep, there’s your window of inspiration. Usually these sorts of bursts are few in far between. And for me, work is generally comprised of 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Depressing? Maybe. But there is good news. Over the course of a year, I’ve noticed a pattern in the times when I’m most productive and have learnt to capitalise on it. I usually work my best mid-morning to just after lunch. About 10-1pm. This is when work comes most naturally to me. It would make sense for me to work at night, after the kids are in bed, and I do, but I’m tired and – especially in terms of writing – I find it hard to think and put articles and posts together at night. So, I’ve learnt to do the “bones” of my writing in my window of inspiration and do other tasks when I’m not so fresh.

5. When do to what
Establishing my window of inspiration was the first step in being more productive. I then needed to slot tasks into my day. Here are the three steps I took to determine this:

1. List all my tasks and work out what tasks take up the most “brain space”. Brain space for me is a very precious thing. HA!
2. Categorise tasks in three groups in relation to how much “brain space” is needed and an extra category for the general every day running of a household. This is what mine looks like:

3. Break up my day into time slots, in relation to my productivity and caring for my kids. For me, it looks like this:

Out of the 17 hours I’m awake, I have a window of 2 hours when I’m most productive. So I write. And focus. And push other jobs out the way.

Understand: I use this schedule as a general guide. Life never runs to schedule so it’s a good idea to stay flexible. However, having this system in place gives me confidence to find the time to invest time in my business when I need to. For example, if I have a deadline looming, I need to ensure I organise my day to take advantage of my window of inspiration.

6. Social Media Downtime
Facebook, twitter and other social media outlets are killers of productivity! Ooo, what is @MotivatingMum doing today? {Focus}. In my window of inspiration, I close down all social media channels so I’m not distracted. I call this Social Media Downtime. It’s done wonders for my productivity.

Would I recommend working from home? Yes. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Tell me about your working at home experiences.

mumpreneur, wahm, be a fun mum
Kelly Burstow combines her passion for design, vintage, children’s books, photography, fashion, writing and parenting in her blog, Be A Fun Mum. Be A Fun Mum is all about reclaiming the enjoyment of parenting, one moment at a time.

Kelly writes for Kleenex Mums, Connect2Mums and has written posts in variety of other places listed here. Kelly lives in Queensland with her husband, four children and one much loved cockatiel.

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5 Responses to Working from Home with Kids

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  3. Kelly B says:

    Thanks Shelly. Finding time IS hard. Very hard. But you are right. Using the time when I’m most productive has been the best way to get the most out of myself.

  4. Shelly says:

    I applaud you Kelly. Finding time is hard. I like your view on finding the time where you are most productive and using that to get work accomplished. I will have to remember this in my daily quest to get things done.

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