One of the most difficult aspects of being a work at home mom is figuring out what to do with your kids. Having them under your desk, although may work for the time being, is not a viable option for the long-haul.
Work-life balance is tough enough as it is, try work-at-home-mom-life balance and it seems almost impossible. However, there are some things that you can do to try and get your family organized around your schedule.
If you can figure out that one piece than the rest will be a cake-walk. Or at least maybe you’ll be able to have your cake and finally sit down and eat it too; while working.
Here is a breakdown of age groups and activities for your kids when you are trying to work at home:
Keeping Baby Busy Ages 0-2
Babyhood: well you just kind of have to wing it. If you have a baby that sleeps all the time, that’s great. But you also need to abide by the motto “you sleep when the baby sleeps”. So plan on working when your baby sleeps only if you’ve had enough rest for yourself.
At one year of age, your baby is still probably taking at least two naps a day. If this is the case, then you can use one of those nap times to get some focused work done. The other naptime can be used to do housework (ugh) or rest. Go for the latter, you’ll burnout otherwise.
Keeping Toddlers from Underneath Your Desk Ages 2-4
When your child hits toddlerhood, now you have some serious challenges on your hands. Not any worse than when your child was a baby, just different. Hopefully, your child is still taking at least one nap in the afternoon. And if he/she takes long naps, then you have some solid hours to focus on your business.
At this age, you can also introduce activities and crafts into the mix. If you take the time to put together activity kits you can make good use of your time.
Put together themed kits ahead of time so you can have a focused activity to give your child when you need some focused time on your laptop. Just remember to baby-gate off an area in your home so it contains the mess that will surely ensue. It’s the price you have to pay. It also prevents your toddler from him/her constantly toddling over to you.
The Computer: Before you scrunch up your face at the thought of sitting your little one in front of a computer for hours, there are plenty of age appropriate educational software programs for little ones. From Noggin, which is now Nick Jr., to Sesame Street.com you can guarantee at least one good hour of focused work for yourself. And then you can feel good about getting some work done and limiting your little one’s time to just one hour on the computer.
If you don’t have an extra computer for your toddler hand him/her a Nintendo DS. Remember they have educational games for the Nintendo and any of the games help with hand-eye-coordination.
Sweetie Can You Watch Your Little Brother? Older children can be involved in watching the younger ones. This can buy you quite a bit of time, but keep in mind the interruptions can be more intense. Its likely sibling fights will erupt and you’ll have to play referee while trying to work. Maybe this is the time to just check emails and respond to them.
The Toddler-Swap: Another idea is to have a toddler-swap with another friend. Have designated days like Tuesdays and Thursdays when your friend has your toddlers and then Monday and Wednesdays you have hers. You can really get some decent work time in doing this.
Mad Money: No one can afford a nanny these days, but how about a college student looking to make some extra dollars during the summer? Or another work-at-home-mom looking to make some “mad money”? Or a church member looking to do the same? Whoever it is, you can bet that it will end up paying for itself and then some in the end.
Rotate Those Toys: You’ll be amazed at how quickly old toys get played with again when you rotate them out on a regular basis. For a toddler with a short memory an old toy becomes new again.
Go Camping: In the living room of course. Set up a couple of chairs and place a sheet over it. Then throw in some snacks and toys and your guaranteed hours of focused work.
Just Sit Down and Play with Them Already! Here’s the thing: In the end you stayed home to raise your children. At some point throughout every day, take the time to give them your focused attention. They will soak up the love and be able to move on easier so you can get back to your work.
Being a work at home mom with young children can be a daunting task indeed. But with perseverance and some cake you can push through the more stressful moments.
What are some things that have worked for you? We could always use some new ideas.