Claire from South Africa asks, “How do you manage to keep posting frequently and balance your family life and chores?”
Great question Claire!
I’m often asked how I get any work done with kids.
Although sometimes I feel like I want to pull my hair out (lol) with the impact of work from home on work-life balance, there are some great tips that have really helped me over the years to balance work-at-home life with kids.
How to balance work-at-home life with kids
1. Explain to your children it’s important
I know they are little, but even at a young age, they can understand the importance of why you need to work from home. If you had a job outside the home, you’d be completely gone, so at least this way, you get to be there for them more. I explain this to my kids. I want to STAY a stay at home mom. In order to do that, I need to work. It’s not always fun, but I’m a single mom, and that’s just the way it is.
I refuse to let the state pay my way, so I work. I believe this teaches my kids responsibility and that if you want something in life, you have to work hard to get it. I work very hard for the things I want. I’m the kind of person that I don’t let anything outside of God’s will stop me. I set goals and most of the time, achieve them. I’m very driven, and I think that is a pre-requisite to being a work-at-home-mom. You must be driven. You have to be self-motivated or it’ll never work.
2. Work while they sleep
This seems a pretty simple way for me to balance work and family. My kids go to bed at a regular time, but over the years, I have trained them to sleep in, in the morning. Yay! So, I get a lot of work done (like right now) in the morning before they wake up (or late at night after they go to bed). When the house is quiet is when I’ll bust out several articles (as I’m doing right now!). Just free-flow writing. I can proof-read and perfect them, add pictures, etc. to my posts after the kids are awake. That doesn’t take as much concentration for me. But when I write, I cannot, absolutely cannot, be interrupted. I hate losing my train of thought.
Likewise, when I was selling on eBay, at night is when I would answer emails, make contacts, ship my products. I usually like to take 1-2 hours and then have a 30 minute break, then work another 1-2 hours, then another short break.
3. Nap-time or quiet-time is my best friend
It’s really hard to settle my kids down during the day, and they are too old for naps, so I do quiet-time. I get some work done, as best as I can during this time. During this time, they take turns doing SEPARATE things, since my kids together are loud and rambunctious.
Things like playing with Lego’s in the living room (we keep them in our coffee table drawer so pick-up is a breeze), coloring or doing crafts at the kitchen table, playing the Wii U quietly (which only works with my daughter; my son gets too engulfed in it), reading on the iPad or a new book I picked up for them, and when all else fails and they won’t settle down = CHORES!
My famous one is ‘Go sweep the floor.” I know it’s going to take 5 mins and just gives me that breather I need to get them off me for a second. Okay, that probably sounded bad, but I’d rather be real than lie. SOMEtimes, you’re just like, I just need 5 minutes! Just 5 minutes to take a breath and keep on being a fantastic mom. 🙂
4. Schedule and Plan
This probably won’t surprise many of you, but I’m a huge planner. I plan for everything. I have a schedule. I like to keep my schedule. I like to control my day instead of my day controlling me. It’s not always the way things work out, it’s not always the best plan, half the time I break the plan myself, but I always make a plan. Each day, I have written in my schedule what I want to accomplish that day. It’s the best way for me to achieve work-life balance.
Once I accomplish everything on my list, I’m free to spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want, which is using having fun with the kids or blogging more, because I generally love to blog. Sometimes I don’t get all my work done, so the next day I have more to make up. That’s okay. As long as I’m scheduling and planning, things seem to run a lot smoother.
5. Playing Outside
Ah, the wonders of playing outside.
This usually keeps my kids busy for a little while. I have made a rule that once they go outside, they can’t come in and out for at least one hour unless someone gets hurt or there’s an emergency. Sometimes I break that rule if they are fighting.
They need to have bathroom and water breaks before and after that time and after an hour, I come and tell them. This gives me one hour of generally-uninerupted time to get work done and is usually a part of the quiet time during the day.
6. Pay Attention to Them
The main reason I wanted to stay home is because I didn’t want to leave them. When I was growing up, I was left with the babysitters all the time. My mom would come home from working all day, plop herself in front of the TV all night and not move. I was an only child and very lonely. I didn’t have a dad, and my mom was so busy trying to provide for us, the quality time and attention wasn’t there. I acted out as a result to get attention.
Although I am not perfect at it by any means, one of the main priorities in my life is to really be there for my kids. If I’m working on the computer, and they come up to me and are really excited, I take just 5 minutes away from what I’m doing and hold them. You will be amazed at how quickly their need is met and they go on with life, always knowing that mom is there for them.
They are more important than my work. They have to be, or what I do is for nothing.
When my ex-husband first left, everyone told me how impossible it was for a single mom to stay home with her kids. No one believed in me. But, I knew it was God’s plan for me, and I prayed day and night. I begged Him not to take my kids away while I worked outside the home all day. I’d do anything within His will to just be with them.
For the past couple years, I have worked 80 hours a week making that dream a reality. I do not want you to think that it has been easy. But, I was determined.
Now, I’m at a place in my life where I still work a good amount of hours, but it’s FUN work. I’m off eBay and so I have my life back. I do not regret working so hard. I think it gave me the appreciation for everything I have, where I am in life, and again, it shows the kids I’m willing to work to provide them a better life.
I want a big back yard and a house for them to play in, not an apartment with no yard. There’s nothing wrong with an apartment, it’s just that I personally love having my kids being able to go outside in a fenced in yard, and just play. I work hard for these things that I want our family to have.
7. Involve Your Kids in Your Work
My daughter is the creative one. She does a lot of the pictures for the blog, comes up with titles for posts, helps with photography, etc. She loves it. Not as much as they used to (the newness has worn off), but blogging is a family endeavor. We all work together so that I can stay home with them, provide them the life that they need and want.
Whatever you do from home, there’s gotta be SOMETHING they can help with. If they need extra motivation, pay them. I pay my daughter to help me with pictures, titles, etc. She has a great eye, better than mine. I pay her to pin on Pinterest for me. That’s about all she can do at this point, but the point is to let them help, whatever age they are at. Involve them and they will be excited about it as well. Make it fun. Always make it fun!
8. One word…Earplugs
Seriously. There are times when you just have to. Those toys that make all that racket are SO annoying. Just use them safely. You don’t want to use them when you’re cooking, using the wash machine, the kids are in the bath, or anything like that. Use common sense. Don’t abuse your children or anything, but using them on occasion when your kids are being super noisy is fine.
In those cases, I generally put them half in my ear, half out, so that it just reduces the loud noises, but I can still hear exactly what’s going on. It gives me just enough concentration to get my work done, and speaking of concentration…
9. Use Oils
If your kids are like mine and sometimes they just WON’T settle down, you can put Lavender on them. Diffuse it to make your home more calm. Make sure they smell the oils as well as putting them on. You’ll get far greater results using them in both ways, smelling them being the most important way to affect their moods.
Likewise, I like to diffuse Peppermint oil in my office, so that I can concentrate. Peppermint is fantastic for helping you concentrate.
My secret weapon for being focused and not wasting time is Roman Chamomile. For some reason, and it’s hard to explain, when I put the oil on the top of my hand, it just makes me prioritize my day like you wouldn’t believe and in prioritizing, I get A LOT more done than I normally would. That oil is worth it’s weight in gold!
10. Use Power Ups
You know like in Super Mario, he gets a power up, and it helps him stay alive longer. Sorry for the analogy, I was just playing Mario with the kids (my favorite!) 🙂 Anyway, you give Mario a mushroom and it’s one power up, then fire power and it’s 2 power ups. So, if an enemy comes, he has 2 more chances with fire power than he does if he’s small to not die.
It’s the same principle here, use power ups in your life. For me, that’s an iPhone. While I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting to pick up my kids, waiting, waiting, waiting, I can pull out my iPhone and get some work done. It may be as simple as getting one more email out that I couldn’t if I didn’t have my phone, but to me, every second counts.
Many nights, I’ll lay on my Biomat and you have to lay there for 30 minutes, so I pin on Pinterest on my iPhone while I’m laying on the Biomat. It’s too uncomfortable to try to angle the laptop and my phone works perfect. Listening to sermons is another thing I do while on the Biomat. Sometimes, I even take the kids upstairs and we just talk while I’m laying on the Biomat.
Anything that helps me multi-task.
So, I need an iPhone. It only costs me $35/month and to me, it’s well worth it. Pinterest is a LOT faster on an iPhone than repinning on a computer, and I love to pin on Pinterest. I can get twice the amount of work done for the same amount of time on the iPhone vs. the computer. So, there’s a power up right there!
With my kids, instead of tucking them in separately, I tuck them in at the same time. They have separate rooms, but that I spend time with them both at the same time before bed.
Another great power up idea is to repost an old post as if it’s new. If your permalink structure doesn’t have dates in it, all you have to do is edit the post and change the date to the current date. Be sure to revamp the post, put new (and better) pictures on the post, go through and re-edit it again, making sure the content is fresh, perhaps adding more value to it like a free printable or affiliate program you’re working with to monetize it better.
I wouldn’t suggest doing this more than once a month. I usually, personally do this once every 2-3 months, mostly because some articles are older and didn’t get the publicity they should have when I was a newer blogger. This saves you a lot of time of having to come up with a whole new post and idea as well as writing and editing it.
Whenever you can, use those power ups!
11. Hire Out
You want to get to a point of hiring out work. Granted, you’ll have to make enough money to hire things out. What is it in your business that you’re either A) not very good at or B) hate doing? Those two things you want to hire out. I’m not as good as my daughter in pictures. I want the best site on the planet, so I need help. She’s better at it than I am. I need her help. I will pay her for her help.
Listen, running a business is hard and doing it alone is even harder, trust me. You have to figure out what you can hire out and what you can do yourself. If something takes you an hour and it takes someone else 5 minutes to do, but it costs you $10 to pay them to do it, PAY THEM! That’s $10 for an hour that you get back out of your life. Running a business, or in my case, businesses, takes smarts. You have to know when you need help. You don’t want to spin all your wheels and get nowhere, right?
You cannot possibly be good at every single aspect in your business. It’s impossible.
If you want your business to ROCK, you have to hire those things out. And even if you were 100% awesome at every detail in your business, there’s no way you could possibly have that much time in the day to accomplish it all. Take it from me, I have been at a point where I’ve done everything in all my businesses all on my own…I was tired! It’s a lot for one person. Be honest with your abilities and hire out when you can. Just be sure to not get ripped off. Pay a fair amount, but don’t overpay.
12. Get a Babysitter
There are going to be those days, where you just know you need a break. As a mom, you only have so much energy.
If you’re married, you can have your husband take the kids for a date for a few hours to give you a break, if you’re single, get a babysitter. If you have family near, maybe they’d like to help once a month. Unfortunately for me, none of these are options, but I thought I’d mention them because for most people they are.