Long before Covid-19 came and sent us all home, I’ve been living the Work From Home Mom life. Not only are the boys (ages 3 and 5) home with me, but we’re homeschooling our oldest and my husband is also working at home! We love the freedom and flexibility we have to be able to go on adventures and take our camper on the road at any time.
As so many of you are either already entrepreneurs or maybe suddenly found yourselves working from home and being a homeschool family, I’ve been getting a lot of questions asking, “how do you do this?”
I’ll be real, it’s not always easy or pretty. I also want to keep it real and acknowledge that I have a huge advantage now having my husband Brett home with me. He’s my business partner and my parenting partner and that goes a long way!
But the advice I’m going to share with you in this post is totally applicable regardless of your setup with your spouse or children’s ages! (okay, within reason… newborns are a whole different beautiful craziness. Speaking of that, did you hear we’re expecting a girl?!)
I’m breaking down my tips, tricks, and tools for WFH success!
The hardest thing about working from home with the kids, especially before Brett was home, is keeping them busy and not being distracted by being with them or wanting to be with them. Sometimes I’ll sit in a shaded spot in the yard working while they play or edit photos while they’re watching a movie. Accepting that sometimes, your brain will be split between work mode and mom mode is actually okay.
I try to set specific timers for tasks, never longer than an hour, and make sure to take a break after. This is both because I get fidgety and also to spend time with the kids. Setting the time limit for the task before you start is extra helpful because of Parkinson’s Law. (Doesn’t that sound fancy?) Basically it just means that a task will take up however much time you give it. So by challenging yourself to shorter bursts of focus, you actually are more productive.
I try to use nap time or rest times to knock out meetings, phone calls, or any tasks that I need peace and quiet for. Make the most of this time for high priority things and go in with a plan. If you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to get lost in your inbox or instagram – which are tasks you can probably do when the kids are awake.
Obviously for me right now, that looks like teaming up with Brett. He knows if I have an important call and vice versa. It’s actually a welcomed break for me when I pause work to watch the kids while he tackles something urgent (and he feels the same way too). If you don’t have a spouse at home or with a flexible schedule where you can trade-off, you can totally utilize friends and family too! Find someone to trade kids with – maybe even on a regular basis like once or twice a week for a morning or afternoon. Use this time to work from a coffee shop or if you’re a photographer, take a shoot!
This goes along with many of the other tips, but the more you learn to schedule your blocks of time to be super productive and focus deeply, the better. Maybe this looks like an editing marathon or writing out your instagram captions in advance or tackling all your emails at once. This also can look like intentionally scheduling days where you’ll have meetings and do them back to back.
Self motivating can be hard for me. Yes, when you first start working from home it’s easy to find yourself working all the time and that does still happen on occasion if I’m really feeling inspired. But more often, I need to just give myself 5 minutes to sit down and get things going. Then I start cruising!
When I started the business I didn’t have a home office and moved from space to space around the house. Then I took over our music room and set up an office that I LOVE. I don’t have doors on it so it’s not perfect, but it works well because I only use the room for work. No movie watching or chilling allowed! I also enjoy coffee shop work sessions. It’s a change of scenery and gets me out of the house and in the city. If you’re a creative person, it can be really important to get some new inspiration from a different environment.
Don’t schedule stressful things right away in the morning. I don’t love waking up and realizing I have 15 minutes to get to my desk and start working. I don’t usually set meetings until 10:30 or later to make sure I have plenty of time. We’re a big breakfast family and the boys usually want to eat as soon as they’re up so we make a big deal out of breakfast. It’s helpful to use that time to talk about what you’re going to do in the afternoon or when you’re done with your work and set the tone for the day.
You’re still a mom and you’re still working from home. Your kids don’t know if you’re working or not. They just know that you’re mom, so you have to communicate with them. Setting expectations and honoring boundaries goes a long way!
Noise blocking headphones – these are a lifesaver. They help me focus in on work and not get distracted by every little noise going on.
Light blocking glasses – to prevent headaches and help me to sleep at night after looking at screens for a million hours.
Timers (Alexa, kitchen timer, little hourglasses) – the kids and I both thrive using timers. It helps to explain to the boys that mom is working until the timer goes off.
Golden Coil planner – I’m obsessed with this planner! It helps me map out my days and schedule meetings + coordinate with Brett.
Have more questions about the work from home life? Let me know and I’d love to see if I can help tackle them in a future post or over on IG stories!