One of the many reasons I work as a freelancer is that it gives my substantial flexibility with my schedule. This is very important to my family because it allows me to take kids to school, pick kids up from school, and even participate in the classroom as a volunteer at various times. That doesn’t mean I get to work whenever I want to, per se, but it does mean that I can shift my work hours to the evening or weekends if necessary. However, at the start of every summer, my professional life undergoes a major upheaval.
How To Work From Home With Kids Around
From September to June of each year, my kids attend school, like most other American children. That means that from the time I get them off to school in the morning to the time I need to get them home, I have uninterrupted time to handle everything from writing, to marketing, to household chores, to grocery shopping, to having fun. Every one of those things has to be done sometime, but I get the ability to choose when they happen.
However, starting in early June, the kids are home for summer vacation. There are some camps in there, but neither my wife nor I feel comfortable just shipping them off to camps for the entire summer. That means I need to fit in roughly the same amount of work each week, but while still keeping my kids safe, entertained, and stimulated each day. It can be a challenge.
Find Work Time While Parenting
There are several little tricks I’ve developed in order to be a work at home dad while my kids are on break. Some of them are more successful than others, but in order to make it work, I have to keep on my toes and finding new ways to be everything to everyone.
- Work When They Play – When my first was born, some of the best advice I got was to make sure and sleep whenever your child sleeps. While they are getting up, all night, every night, sleep can be hard to come by. One of the ways to survive those sleepless early months is to take advantage of napping as much as you can whenever they are napping. By the time they hit school age, naps probably aren’t on the menu, but they do start playing on their own. When they do, it’s time to work. Since that time may be short lived, I try and do smaller, but important tasks then. Return emails, write short articles, build links, and so on.
- Put Them to Work – Kids should have some chores and tasks that they are responsible for to build responsibility and a since of accomplishment. Having them clean their room when you need 30 minutes to bang out a client project is one way to get a little work time. Do not overuse this.
- Screen Time – Like many parents, we try to limit the amount of time our kids spend glued to the TV. We include the mindless play on things like iPads and Leapsters in this same limited time. Around here, we call it screen time, as in using something with a digital screen. However, this is one of the few activities that the both love, and that they can often do for longer stretches of time without interruption. Making screen time, when you need work time, is a way to make sure they get some of what they want, and frankly need, while you get some of what you need.
- Babysitters and Nannies – Someday, the projects will be too big, the deadlines will be too close, and the amount of solid, uninterrupted time you need to work will be just too large to create without making you or your kids miserable. That’s when it is time to bring in a babysitter or nanny. In one way, that is like taking money out of your pocket. If you are working on a project that pays $1,000 and you spend $200 on babysitting, it’s like you only earned $800 for that project. On the other hand, earning $800, and the intangibles that come from completing a solid work product on time (like getting more work) is better than earning $0, or worse, hurting your professional reputation.
- Laying Down the Law – If you have older kids, it may be as simple as just letting them know that you need some uninterrupted time for work. But, don’t just send them off on their own. Be sure that they know you are there if they do need something, and let them know when you will be done. Make sure that they understand as soon as you are finished, they will the be your only priority. That way it doesn’t seem like you are just trying to get rid of them all the time.
- Get Up Early and Stay Up Late – Chances are, there won’t be enough time for you to get a full-time freelance writing career in by just working around your children’s playful day. Getting up before they do can give you an extra hour or two, depending upon how early your kids get up. Staying up late can be just as useful too, depending on how your mental energy works, and how tired you are at the end of the day. On most days, I try and get an hour in the morning (the youngest is up by 7:00 am every day) and another hour or two at night. Unfortunately, that leaves plenty of hours that need carved out of the weekends or when my wife is home in the evening, but it’s better than trying to make your kids invisible for three hours during the afternoon.
In the end, you have to devise your own system of freelance writing tips and tricks to carve out enough time to work from home with your children. Whatever you come up with, the rewards of being there and enjoying them whenever you can are immeasurable.
What kinds of things do you do to be able to work from home with your kids.