6 Tips for Work-at-Home-Parents
I have two young children (twins!) and run my web design business from my home office. I’m often asked how I do it and what life’s really like behind-the-screen.
So here are 6 practical tips that have worked for my family.
1. I get lots of help.
Getting lots of help has to be number 1 — everything else builds from here. For me, help is absolutely essential to getting good work done. It’s awfully hard to concentrate on a tricky piece of code or feel creatively inspired when your attention is being pulled away every few minutes.
My kids have been in a part-time preschool since they were almost 3 years old. And on top of that, my parents pick them up and keep them an extra couple of hours. Hashtag blessed. If my parents weren’t able to do that, I’d have them do longer days at school. A solid block of time is really important to me.
2. I don’t own a laptop.
There are a lot of good things about being “desk-bound”. It eliminates all temptation for me to bring my work over to the couch, turn on the tv, etc. When I sit down in my office chair, I’m ready to focus and ready to work. I also have a lovely large screen which is great for web design. And then, even better, when I’m done with work, my computer stays in the office.
And speaking of the office, having a dedicated space is so nice if you have the room in your home. I love being able to set up my space productively and it’s another thing that separates my work life from my home life.
3. I keep strict work hours (with some flexibility).
Before kids, I worked whenever and wherever (I had a laptop, eek!). It seemed great, but the reality was that I could stretch out 20 mins of work into an all day and night affair. I can’t believe how much more efficient I am now that I have strict limits on my time with defined end times every day. When my kids get home, I’m done. And after they go to bed, I rarely hop back on my computer.
I do allow for the occasional after-hours working session, but it’s only if it’s something important that’s truly time sensitive. Otherwise, it’ll have to wait. So a pre-step for this one is setting realistic deadlines and leaving extra wiggle room for the inevitable things that pop up.
4. I start with a list.
Before I start working, I’m so much more productive when I take a few minutes to plan out what needs to get done and create a very short, high-level list of priorities. I try to keep my task list to 3 main things every day. Sometimes I sneak in a 4th.
When I cross off that list I feel accomplished and I know I’m staying on track — focusing on things that are important for my goals and business.
5. I connect strategically.
There was a period of time when I was doing so many connection calls that it wasn’t leaving much time for work. As much as I enjoy connecting with fellow creatives, I realized that had to set some limits. I’ve narrowed it down to 1-2 a month instead of 1-2 a week, and it’s left me a lot more room to get work done.
I’ve also realized that I don’t always have to hop on the phone or meet in person to connect with someone. Replying to someone’s Insta stories and having conversations via DM is a great way to connect or keep connections going too.
6. I feel good about my kids seeing me work.
This is a big one. Mom guilt is real and I get that. But working is one of the things I don’t have guilt about. I want my kids to know that I have a business and that it’s an important part of my life. I feel like it’s such a good example for them to see me building this business for myself and living my life the way I want to. So instead of feeling guilty, I feel proud. That’s not something I’ve had to talk myself into, it’s one of my values and living it feels good.