Many women are forced to choose between pursuing their careers and raising their children. Being a Mommy is no easy task, but when you add the pressure of a career and making money to the constant responsibilities of being a mother, things can get hard. Thanks to the internet, many women are choosing to work from home to create a better life for themselves and their families.
When I began my entrepreneurial journey as a blogger in 2013, I had a 2-year-old son and a 12-week old newborn baby girl. Before I had children, I worked in an office and really enjoyed my work. However, after having kids, I had fallen in love with being a stay-at-home mom. Since I knew I did not want to return to an office job, I used my free time during the day as an opportunity to pursue my passion for writing while I cared for my kids.
When I made the decision not to go back to work, I knew I would need an effective plan to be able to get my work done. At the time we lived in Hawaii, and all my friends and family were on the east coast – thousands of miles out of reach. Because my husband worked long hours, it was just me and my two babies alone every day for 12 hours at a time.
Because they were so young, the kids needed every moment of my time. The daily responsibility of raising them while trying to be productive quickly became overwhelming and I realized I desperately needed to create a plan – for my sanity’s sake.
You cannot let your children consume your life – you have to find something that is just for you.
Being a mother to small children can quickly become tiring because it is a 24-hour, 365-day gig. Infants and toddlers constantly need your love and attention, and you hardly have any free time for yourself. In addition to all of the responsibility of taking care of home and kids with no help, adding a hobby, career, or job on top of that can be intimidating – but it is possible. With hard work and consistency, it can be done.
When working from home with small kids, you will need to plan, act, and execute quickly.
Since working with small children is unpredictable, you are going to need to have an action plan for everything you need to do. Having a clear and concise plan will help you to execute your tasks in a shorter amount of time.
Each night before I go to bed, I write a checklist of all I need to get done for the next day. Having a list will help you to stay on track, and waste less time. Think of your daily to-do list as a preventative measure to ensure your work gets done. That way if something comes up, you can solve the emergency then use your checklist (I call it my gameplan) to get back on track asap.
When it comes to pursuing your dream or career, you have to do whatever it takes to get it done.
When it comes to your kids, think of them like little your teammates. You are the coach of the team and they are the players. Each one of you has to work together to accomplish the mission. When your little teammate needs a drink of water, a snack, a bottle – be ready at the drop of a dime to give it to them. The happier you keep them, the more work you can get done.
When teaching your small kids how to behave at home, set boundaries and give rewards to keep them engaged. Even though your kids are young, they understand you clearly, so talk to them. When I first began writing daily for my blog, my son had just turned two years old. Each day before writing, I told him “Mommy is going to work on the computer now”. Even though I still kept a constant eye on him, he understood that Mommy had something “important to do” and he stayed in the room with me and played nicely instead of running off and tearing down the house.
At the end of each day, if he had been well behaved (I worked in two-hour increments throughout the day to not overwhelm him), I gave him a treat and encouraged him to behave again tomorrow while “mommy worked” so he could get another special surprise.
When working from home with small kids, the objective is to try to keep them as happy as you can so that you can get as much work done as possible in a short amount of time.
Depending on how old your child is, your methods will need to change with age and personality. Each day is a gamble because let’s face it – no child is the same, and as their mom, you have to choose what works best for your child(ren). If your kids are close in age, encourage them to play together and keep each other entertained.
Tips for Different Age Groups
Keep your baby to you as close as possible. If you have a body wrap or a sling carrier that you can wear, use that even in the house. My new baby boy loves to be worn in our Lilliebaby carrier – he sits quietly in there for hours. My favorite item for my baby girl was her satin bassinet on wheels. Wherever I went in the house, I wheeled her in the bassinet right alongside me. As long as she could hear my voice and see my face, she was content. Sometimes if she got fussy and needed to be held, I would cradle her on my lap as I typed. If your baby feels you close, he or she will be less likely to fuss and stay calm while you work.
This stage is honestly the hardest (hang in there Mama!) because your baby is learning his or her surroundings and won’t want to stay still for long. You have to watch their every move because anything is liable to happen at this curious stage in their lives. I suggest investing in an enclosed play yard so he or she can play freely within boundaries. When he or she gets too big for the playpen, choose an open area in the house where you can keep an eye on them. Consider gathering all of their toys, and putting them in the middle of the floor in the living room, or choose to work from their bedroom or playroom.
2-4 years old
At this age, the goal is to keep your child actively engaged throughout the day. Try tasks that will keep their mind busy while you work. Coloring books, blocks, puzzles, dolls, and snacks all come out when it is time for Mommy to work. Keep your child in the same room so he or she doesn’t get lonely, and you can monitor their activities. Remind your child, “Mommy is working” so he or she can get accustomed to you working from home.
When working from home with your kids around, you will need to understand these things:
1. You will have to sacrifice sleep.
No one ever achieved their dream without hard work and sacrifice. Many successful people admit to deprivation in the early years of building before the success came. You, Mommy, will have to sacrifice lots of sleep. Self-care is very important, but when it comes to making your dreams come true, you will have to make sure things get done to build your dream, even if that means staying up until the wee hours of the morning. My best work hours are between 9 pm and 1 am when everyone in my house is asleep.
2. You will need to give yourself lots of pep-talks.
When you don’t have a constant support system around to keep you encouraged, you have to become your own cheerleader. I remember days when the responsibility would get so overwhelming, that I would go sit in the closet and cry. Although I no longer have those late-night breakdowns, I understand that I needed those moments to help me to move forward. If you need a moment to cry it out, then by all means, please, express your emotions. Get it all out. But when you are done having your self-induced pity party, get up, and remind yourself that you can do it.
Think about it like this…soon your kids will grow older and go to school full-time and you will be free to pursue your dreams, goals, and passions for at least 6 hours a day uninterrupted! But you have to get there first. Just hold on a little while longer. If you quit too soon, you will never know what could have been.
3. Don’t compare yourself to what others are doing.
Comparing what you should be doing to what others are actually doing can be very discouraging. I remember when I first started, I would read other Mom blogs and wonder, “How does she do it?” “How does she make it look so easy?”, and “Her website and products look so much better than mine…” Little did I know, I wasted so much time worrying about what I was not, that I didn’t take the time to focus on all that I was. Stay focused on what you are currently doing, and don’t waste too much time browsing what others are up to. Not only will it break your focus, but it will paralyze you from moving forward.
4. Develop a strict routine.
Small children thrive on routines. Their little bodies are trained how to behave by the activities they engage in. Develop a routine that you and your children can function on. Find an activity that your child(ren) can do that will keep them the happiest, and do the same thing each day at the same time. For example, when I first started blogging, I liked to start my days early.
After breakfast, I scheduled that my two-year-old son would have play time for two hours. He looked forward to it because he knew as soon as he was done breakfast, it was time to play. He would get up from the table and run to his bedroom. After he finished breakfast, I moved my laptop, my notebooks, and the baby bassinet (with my newborn in it) all to his bedroom.
For two hours, I had uninterrupted time to work while the baby slept and he played. After two hours of play, a timer would go off and he knew it was time for lunch (toddlers are smarter than people give them credit for!). I would give him lunch and breastfeed my baby girl at the same time. By noon, both of their bellies were full and they were ready for afternoon naps. After I put them down for their naps, I would immediately get to work – giving me two more quiet hours to work. Working from home takes discipline Mom, so give it all you’ve got.
5. Be present with your kids.
When I decided to become a stay-at-home mom, I had the intention of giving my children the extra love and attention I remember getting from having a stay-at-home mama. Don’t get so caught up in work that you forget to show your babies love and attention throughout the day.
Although I have been working and building my businesses since my children were little, I still want them to know that I am present and available for them whenever they need me. Think of it from their point of view, there is nothing worse than having Mommy home and not being allowed to talk to her. I never want my kids to feel that way, so I make sure to keep open communication with them at all times.
If I am in my office working during the day, I invite my daughter and all of her toys to play in my office. Some days I work from the living room so she can watch The Alvin and the Chipmunks movie 10 times in a row. There are times when I have to stop in the middle of writing a blog post to have a tea party with my baby girl and her dolls, and I am ok with that. Because out of all of the titles I hold, being a Mommy will always be my favorite one.
I hope this helps!