I got laid-off earlier this year and ended up with a part time job I can do from my home. There are some huge benefits to working from home: you never have to get out of your pajamas, no one steals your lunch from the refrigerator, and you can can listen to your music as loud as you want.
Unfortunately – there is one huge downside. While school is out? I share my office space with two elementary-aged tyrants who seek solace in torturing me with songs about farts and playing games of tag using my china cabinet as base.
Working from home while caring for two children is tricky, to say the least. The temptation is strong to entertain them with non-stop screen time while I work, but I’m trying my best to not depend on that except as a last resort. I also don’t want to find myself in a situation where unsupervised play created hours more housework for me to do in the form of damage control in all of the rooms in our home.
I’ve come up with a decent system so far.
– Be Mindful of Screen Time
Mine get 10 screen-time marbles a week. Each is good for 30-minutes of screen time. They can earn more with certain activities like reading, and workbook pages. They can also lose them with certain activities, like painting volleyballs with nail polish. (Don’t ask.)
– Utilize the Great Outdoors
They have to play outside for at least 30 minutes a day. They’ve learned to schedule this time in the morning because if they wait too long, outside play becomes miserable in the Alabama heat.
– Break It Up
I don’t work more than a 2 solid hours at a time without at least a 20 minute break with the kids. Sometimes this a session of tickle wars, sometimes it’s story time. Either way, they know if they play well for 2 hours with minimal interuptions to me, they’ll get bonus time later.
– Take Your Lunch
I don’t work through meals. Knowing they get chatter time with me over breakfast, lunch, and dinner keeps the constant chatter while I work to a minimum.
– Early Bird or Night Owl?
I try to do at least an hour or two a day while they’re sleeping. If I can get an hour in before they wake up, or after they go to bed, that’s time I don’t have to figure out how to keep them occupied during the day. I used to use those hours for housework, but while I can do housework with them in tow, I can’t build web pages as easily.
– Stay Flexible
While we do keep a general schedule, I try to keep things flexible so that if my work load is light, we can spend more time together. Or if I have a heavy workload, I can modify some of the rules to accommodate. Trying to stick to a perfect schedule did not work for us at all, staying flexible helps keep things lower stress.
Do you have any tips for this working-from-home Mom? How do you get your work done while caring for your brood?
Kim Holmes is a mom of three who has been writing online at www.misszoot.com for over 10 years. She falls down a lot and can often be found with stains on her shirt and mismatched shoes. In other words, Kim does not want you to mistake her for someone glamorous. You can follow her on Twitter (@misszoot) where you can catch her talking about the various TV shows she pretends she doesn't watch.