It can be so easy to get distracted when working from home, no matter how passionate you are about your business or how pressing your tasks are.
A glance around the house and you’ll notice laundry that needs to be cleaned and rooms that need to be tidied.
Add kids to the mix and without facing it head on, you will end up expending all your “work” time caught up in toddler (or teenager) power struggles.
It’s not an easy thing.
But, I’m not the best person to tell you how to handle this because, well, I don’t have kids of my own. And when I started to realize that there are so many work at home moms trying to make their home office work, I knew I needed to get some insight straight from some creative, business-minded moms to share with you.
I surveyed some lovely women on how they make their home office work when the kids are home for the summer ( because right now is about the time when things can get a bit kooky). And I’ll share exactly what they said about it in a minute. But…
There were several points of wisdom that I gleaned from them – and one big nugget that is the linchpin of all of it. Here they are…
1. Keep them busy.
Give the kiddos something to get creative with themselves, so they don’t come to you every 5 minutes complaining of boredom – this works best for older kids who can be a bit autonomous for a period of time.
2. While they are sleeping.
Whether it’s their nap time or you bookend your day with early mornings and/or late nights, these are the moments where you can squeeze in some creative biz action. Just don’t overdo it and burn the candle out at both ends!
3. Get them out of the house.
Leverage the time they are out at activities or visiting with their friends to really build in some quality work time into your week.
4. Get some help!
When all else fails, bring in some support, whether that’s your partner, another family member or you actually hire a babysitter/nanny/au pair. This is where you can really be proactive in claiming your precious work time. Seriously though, this shouldn’t be the last resort – it should be your first inclination if at all possible.
5. Join forces with other work at home moms
What if you got connected with a few local parents who are also managing a complicated work/life balance at home to share the burden – One day a week one parent has the kids after hours, while the other moms work. Then every mom has their turn. You could even hire a babysitter to watch everyone at each house and split the cost.
Now – let’s hear it from the moms who so generously helped me pull this post together – This was the question I posed:
How do you make your home office work for you when your kids are around for the summer?
And here are their responses:
Work your “booty” off during Naptime and after bed! It’s brutal but much more practical than feeling spread too thin. Or get someone to come help for a little while and crank out the work :)
— Megan Elizabeth | Art By Megan
Yes! I agree with Megan Elizabeth! I’m going to have a neighbor girl come watch my little one for a few hours a week. It seems every time I sit down and try and concentrate some major disaster strikes aka spilled water/ran out of raisins/tantrum. You know DEFCON 5 level things!
— Natalie Anne | Bloom and Blossom Photography
This is tough! My husband helps as much as he can after he gets off work, but I still put in a lot of late nights & early mornings to squeeze work in while my boys (3&5) are sleeping. Last summer, I had a sitter come for 4-5 hours one day a week (I tried to schedule her for my busiest day.) & that was a huge help. Recently, I’ve been trying to actually ‘schedule’ a big chunk of time that is devoted entirely to playing with them, reading, making a craft, etc– no email, no Etsy messages, no work at all. Then when I do have to get something (work related) done, they aren’t feeling ‘deprived’ and I’m not feeling pulled in two different directions.
— Cara McGrady | One Swell Studio
If you’re working your business full time you will absolutely need help (babysitter, summer camps, switch off with another work at home mom), so that you can have blocks of time to work without kids around. Working during naps and late nights is where I started but it wasn’t sustainable long-term and was always my short term plan while the kids were babies. I couldn’t focus because there were so many interruptions or just unreliable schedules and I felt like I wasn’t giving my all to my business or my family. I’m a better mom and more strategic business owner when I have big chunks of time to get my work done.
…I have three full days a week when the house is solely mine and I cherish them. I’m also super productive those days out of necessity.
— Katie Hunt | Tradeshow Bootcamp
Nap time, bed time and easy art projects or a fenced-in backyard! Haha, with a little screen time mixed in for desperate times.
— Rachael Kimbler
My kids aren’t in school yet. So, I deal with this year round. I have a schedule I try to stick to. I definitely try my best to work during nap time. Get help from someone even a couple days a week if you can. I also end up working in the evenings some after they have gone to bed.
— Suze Ford
I was going to include some ideas for making your actual space function when there are distractions around, but after hearing from all of these wonderful ladies, one thing became very clear — It’s not about soundproofing your home office for when you take a call and the TV is blasting.
Nope – all of these points come down to one thing – the linchpin if you will:
Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling!
Don’t try to work when the kids really do need your attention, but be ruthless when carving out time for when they are either not around or otherwise occupied.
You might be asking, though, “Yeah, but how do I let them know that I need to have some work time when they are around and pleading for my attention?”
Well, this might not work with very little children (refer back to the scheduling/getting help/naptime points for that) but for older kids, you just might need to show them a sign.
And to help you do exactly that I made these lovely door hangers that you can put up to remind everyone (ahem… your partner too ;) that there is work you need to accomplish at that moment.
Here’s a peek and if you want to download them just click the button below to sign up.
Click Here to Get Your “Distraction-Free Zone” Door Hangers
So what if you’re like me and don’t have kids? I’m sure there are still distractions around you if your workspace is in your home. Maybe you have roommates that don’t know when to leave you alone. Or maybe you live by yourself and need something tangible to remind yourself that it’s time to get to work.
Well, you can also use these door hangers to give your housemates, hubbies, or even yourself the signal, so go ahead and get the download here.
[EPSB]Like this post? You might also like my Interview with Amber McCue (+ Pics of Her Home Office!)[/EPSB]