Tips For Working From Home With Littles
Other moms I know who are thinking of starting a business have asked me, "How do you balance time with the kids and working while they're little? Is it possible to be creative and use your gifts for work without neglecting them or using screens as a babysitter?"
I love this question because so many times we think we have to choose one or the other: Stay at home or go to work?
Now that online business exists and specifically passive income, it's totally possible to do both, and to do both WELL.
My kids are 3, 6 & 7 and I've had my "work from home" business almost the entire time I've been a mom.
I've done it while having newborns, while managing the struggles of having a special needs boy, while helping run a youth ministry, while moving, etc.
It's not always easy but there are tricks I've learned along the way to keep everything running smoothly. (Well, MOST of the time!)
Some of the PROS...
- You can create create your own schedule - which means freedom and flexibility to spend plenty of time with your kids.
- Your gifts and creativity can be an outlet - so you don't have to put some of the things you love to do on hold until they're older.
- Extra income - so you can take care of some of those extra needs of your family, pay off debt or take vacations. It eliminate some of the stress that a one-paycheck household might bring.
- Interaction with clients (other adults! yay!) - this can be so refreshing when you spend the majority of your time changing diapers or talking to a toddler.
- Being present with your kids - especially if you would otherwise have to be in an office or workplace away from them all day. I know that it's not always an option financially to stay home.
Some of the CONS...
- Interruptions during work time. Lots of them - Even if they are the best kind of interruptions:) This can definitely be tough when you have to be creative or highly focused. You have to really structure when and how you work.
- Deadlines or busy seasons can be chaotic - Kids get sick or need more of your attention some days. Life happens and that can make productivity tough.
- Struggle to keep up with competitors - You probably won't be able to "produce" as much as another business owner that may have a full 8-hour workday in a quiet office. You might have to be okay with growing slow, outsourcing, delegating or just not trying to compete.
- Getting overwhelmed with so many roles - You're often doing customer service, marketing, copywriting, sales, creating products or services, branding, support, etc. And in the same time and space, you might be in charge of cleaning, cooking, educating, entertaining, running errands, maintaining the home and finding quality activities to do with the kids. It's a lot to manage.
Here are a few things I've found to be helpful to me...
1. Passive Income and Scalable Products
If you've never heard the term, passive income is just the ability to make money around the clock even when you aren't physically working. So for example, the majority of my income is from digital products. They give me sales and help my customers even while I'm sleeping.
Something I created once, like a design template or a video class, will sell over and over. That way my time has exponential value and my work doesn't always depend on my circumstances. Other examples of passive income: Online courses, ebooks, audio or video classes, podcasts, apps, templates, mockups, stock photos, printable worksheets, workbooks, art prints, blog post ads, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, etc.
What could you create in your field of expertise that could help people and sell repeatedly?
2. Creating Systems for Everything
I'm finding more and more that order, planning, routines and habits make life so much easier. It's really difficult to get work down during kids' naps if you're disorganized. So I spend a lot of my time trying to work smarter instead of harder.
This might mean starting everyday with a clean space. Or creating email templates. It sometimes looks like batching my work into theme weeks or having a weekly plan hour. You can save time and stress by creating order little by little in every area.
How can you slowly refine your work and home processes so that every day things work like a well oiled machine?
3. Really Narrow Focus
It might be tempting to try to be awesome at everything. It's especially tough when you see other businesses rocking at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & Email while offering twice as many products as you. But you have to keep your head down and just diligently work at a level that's reasonable for your family.
I recently heard that up to 80% of the things we do in business might not actually be helping the customer or bringing in income. So don't get sidetracked by every article or piece of marketing advice you come across. Forget about those things that are just for show. Instead prioritize what your clients need most and only work on the small percentage of tasks that move the needle forward.
How can you create a better focus and simplify your workflow?
4. Let Work Come Second
This one is really important because these little ones grow up fast! You want to be able to soak up as much time with them as possible. Also if your family life is strained, don't think that won't carry over into your work and mental energy.
Create fun things for you to do together during the day and also fun, educational things that they can do on their own. Get creative with WHEN and HOW you work so they aren't staring at a screen all day. Try working only during naps and bedtime, or create one or two quiet times throughout the day that they can rest with books, crafts, or room time while you work nearby.
How could you be more purposeful with your family atmosphere?
5. Let Go Of The Inner Perfectionist
This is one of the most difficult but can be so critical: Make sure the amount of time you spend and the amount of expectations you put on yourself are reasonable! Don't be afraid to outsource some of your work, even if that's scary.
I've talked to so many creatives who have had to close their business from overwhelm. And I've seen a few run themselves and their family ragged, because they refused to let go of control and outsource.
You have to let go of your inner perfectionist. Peace, rest, and healthy boundaries for you and your family is so worth it. As an added bonus, you might really see your business grow with help as well.
What unrealistic expectations are you holding on to that might be hurting your family? Research some resources that could help you.