As a stay-and-work-at-home mum people often ask me how I do it.
As a freelance journalist I work full-time hours around a six-year-old at school, a two-year-old at nursery part-time and a baby at home with me full-time.
The truth is sometimes I honestly don’t know how I do it – bleary-eyed from the broken nights that come with breastfeeding I somehow get through the days juggling work and deadlines with the kids, the school and nursery runs, nappy changing and mealtimes until Misery Guts gets home from work.
There isn’t an alternative because we can’t afford full-time nursery fees for one child let alone two, and in any case I want to exclusively breastfeed Littlest B with minimal pumping.
Of course there are pros as well as cons to working from home with kids, and I’ve written before about how to work from home with a baby and stay sane, but now my third maternity leave is over and I’m back at work with three kids in the house I thought I’d share how I make working from home with kids work.
How I make working from home with kids work
1. Be disciplined. That means not putting the alarm on snooze, not getting distracted by Homes Under The Hammer and definitely no scrolling through Facebook. If self-discipline isn’t your strong point, then working from home probably isn’t for you.
2. Set mini, achievable deadlines throughout the day. By that I mean certain things to be done by certain times, and stick to the schedule.
3. Factor in buffer time. Buffer time is the time you need to plan for to deal with things you can’t plan for, like the poonami that requires a full-on bath or the cereal that ends up all over the kitchen floor when you stupidly decided to let them pour it themselves. You might not know what it is that’s going to require buffer time, but you can guarantee there’s bound to be something.
4. Keep on top of paperwork. If you’re self-employed like me and invoice clients for work when you’ve done it, it’s essential you keep on top of it – especially if your nursery requires payment for the month ahead in advance, so basically before you’ve even done the work to pay for it. Make it clear on your invoice that payment is due on receipt – it can be the difference between your invoice being processed straight away or put in an in-tray to be dealt with later.
5. Have a contingency plan. You only need one client you’ve done a big piece of work for to pay late to find yourself wondering how to pay the bills that month. If you find yourself robbing Peter to pay Paul you could consider loans for bad credit to tide you over.
6. Plan sit-down activities for the kids. Drawing, writing, sticker books – anything that keeps them quiet and in one place is good. Meanwhile door bouncers for babies are excellent.
7. Don’t feel guilty. So what if the kids have watched every single episode of Topsy & Tim on iPlayer back to back or the sun’s shining but you’ve been indoors all day – in the grand scheme of things it’s not going to kill them. There’s nothing wrong in using the TV as a babysitter, and if it means you’ve got your work done, then so be it.
8. Don’t get stressed. You might have a deadline looming and the baby might have decided that today’s the day they don’t want to be put down or the older kids have taken it upon themselves to fight like cats and dogs, but the worst thing you can do is get stressed about it because the kids will pick up on it, making the whole situation worse. Go into a different room, count to ten and come back out again.
9. Accept help. If people offer help, take it. My mother-in-law stays with us once a week to look after the kids so I can work child-free for one afternoon and one day a week, and both sets of grandparents help out in the holidays. I honestly don’t know what we’d do without them.
10. Keep a nice bottle of wine in the fridge. I don’t mean for while you’re working – although I’m not judging – I mean for afterwards, as a nice reward. You deserve it!
Do you work from home with kids in the house? How do you make it work? Or is working from home with kids your idea of merry hell? I’d love to know your thoughts!
This is a collaborative post.