Contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as working from home with kids.
I started my business back in 1999, long before I ever had kids. After my daughter Samantha was born in 2006 I officially became a work at home mom. I was able to still juggle the work/family thing OK for about a year… and then it became abundantly clear that trying to do both at the same time sucks. Having Sam home with me while I was trying to get work done was highly frustrating – I would find myself getting annoyed (and sometimes downright mad) when she would “interrupt” my work. How dare she wake up from her nap early when i’m on a call! It sounds almost absurd to say that, but it is truly what would go through my mind.
When Samantha was about 18 months old she started going to a dayhome for the mornings so that I would have some dedicated time in the day to get work done. Then Lexi was born, she stayed home with me for a while and started going to a dayhome at around 11 months old. (Gotta love it when the little ones still have their long naps!) Now they are both in preschool/dayhome from 9am – 3pm Monday to Thursday, which are my dedicated working hours.
You see the reality is that we can’t be a good work at home mom when we are distracted – and having kids in the house while we are working is highly distracting. The solution? Have someone else take care of your kids during your working hours. For many moms this is a toughie, as we thought that working from home would mean being able to spend all day with our kids right? But it’s really a matter of what serves EVERYONE the best. You can’t serve your clients when you are distracted. You can’t truly be with your kids if you are trying to do work at the same time. And YOU will get exhausted trying to juggle both.
The key is to set specific working hours where your kids aren’t around, and then have non-working hours where you focus on family and do NO work. And yes, I know that is super tough… i’m still very much guilty of doing “a bit of work” after supper when I should truly be focused on my family.
How to know if this is a real issue? If you ever find yourself saying “Just a minute honey, mommy has to do just one more thing….” and then you are still on the computer an hour later. Or if your kids are literally saying “get off the computer mom and come do X with me.” Ugh, I am still guilty of that from time to time and it is not something i’m proud of… I think we need to remind ourselves why we started our own business. As a mom I know a big part of it was to have flexibility in my working hours so as to spend more time with my kids… yet I know many moms who end up spending way more time with their business than their kids (I actually had an eek in the pit of my stomach when I typed that.)
I need to recommit myself to having dedicated time for my family… to not working from 3pm to their bedtime so that I can truly be present with my girls each day. And have to admit I get a bit antsy when I type that, makes me wonder why i’m so attached to my work? Hmmm, that’s a post for another time. 😉