Around 3 years ago I wrote a post called daily productivity hacks for creative people. This is was before children, so I felt this was due for an update with life after children – just for you Donna ;)
My main goal for working for myself right now is for the flexibility to be around my family. I am not in it for worldwide domination, it’s all about lifestyle and being able to watch my babies grow whilst doing what I love (and helping people do the same). Whilst the working world landscape is very slowly changing and making baby steps towards being more family friendly, it’s still not quite there yet.
However, having said that the reality of working at home with kids is freaking hard. Like the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Especially as I embark on it with with 2 under 2.
The new morning routine
Gone are the days where I would leisurely get out of bed, walk the dog and sit and enjoy a green smoothie (oh how I laugh at that now). Instead my morning routine involves a toddler screaming the house down for breakfast whilst I frantically get a coffee into me because I’ve been up half the night with a baby.
The inner battle
There is that constant push and pull between being a good Mum and being able to deliver projects on time. And when a kid demands attention, you’ve got to drop everything and give it. A demanding toddler is not something you want to ignore, trust me.
I don’t want to be that Mum where my toddler turns to me and says “not now mummy I am working”, so I have made a conscious effort to not work when my toddler is around. Idealistic, yes a little. And perhaps it would be easier just to pop the kids in full time daycare and go get a job so I can be present in both aspects of my life.
I now over estimate how long things are going to take and I am now completely transparent to clients that I work around my kids. Thankfully most of my clients are in the same boat so completely understand. It has made the transition a hell of a lot easier having that empathy from my clients when things just don’t go according to plan.
How to get stuff done with kids around
So how do I get things done now?
When asking my designer buddies what they did, they either put their kids in daycare, worked during naps or worked at night when the kids were tucked into bed until all hours into the morning. I am too old to work into the night, I’ve done my dance with that working style and now I am cosy in bed by 9 pm ready for the 3am baby wake ups and the 5am toddler is up for the day!
So how does it work for me now?
- Naptime Work sprints (and pray to god the two sync their naps)
- Checking emails when the toddler is otherwise entertained
- Marketing, general admin and creating to do lists when the kids go to bed
- More focus on leveraging my time with products over 1:1 services with set deadlines
- Batch as much as I can
I was pretty lucky that my daughter was a good napper, generally she would do a good 3 hour stretch which was awesome. Until she didn’t, and then I would get super stressed as I started banking on those naps.
I resisted daycare for a long time, but when the napping became too unreliable to get stuff done, I popped my Daughter in for 1 day a week (when she was around 10 months old).
Putting my kiddo into daycare was alone the biggest productivity hack ever. Knowing that I had one reliable day to get shit done, I was the most productive I had ever been. There is this untapped drive inside you that really kicks into gear when you have a very limited window of time. I would work like a demon, I would barely even stop for a pee break. I never got distracted, I just got on with it.
So the big question, was putting her into daycare counter intuitive to my vision of being around for my family? No, because it’s only 1 day, and I was earning the same amount in that one day working for myself as I could with 3 days working for someone else. Plus, finding a 1 day a week job is near impossible.
Having said that I still wasn’t keen to let my baby go. It was a huge scary decision, but this post by Alexandra Franzen really helped me come to terms with it. Worth a read if you’re grappling with this decision and this part in particular always gives me the gooseys…
Let your child see you in love with your work. Let your child see you pursue the yearnings of your heart. Let your child see you shine, and be happy, and give your gifts generously to the world.
Do you work at home with your kids? How do you find it working for you?