Wednesday, February 17, 2016

working from home tips

I certainly won't claim to have all the answers for how to best work at home, but I've been doing it now for 2.5 years and have really figured out a system that works for me. I should preface this by says that both jobs that I work are part time and VERY flexible. I can make my own schedule and I typically work around 30 hours a week. I will also say that I currently have no childcare or preschool, so I'm home with the kids 100 percent of the time. It can be a little tricky  (and sometimes frustrating) to find time to work, but I love what I do and I'm so happy that I can earn money and stay at home with the babies. So here are my tips for making it work as a "work-at-home" mom:
1. Maximize the morning time: Charlotte sleeps till about 7:00 (sometimes later) and Hayden never comes out of his room before 7:30 (this clock has been the key to that!). So if I get up at 5:00 am, I have at least 2 hours of uninterrupted work time. It's early, but I am mostly a morning person and getting up early to work usually results in some productive work time. Making a cup of coffee, lighting my favorite candle, and putting on some peaceful music makes getting out of bed much easier.
2. Make a weekly to-do list: I make a list each week of tasks to finish by the end of the week. Most of my work is self-driven, so it helps to stay focused and not jump from task to task. It also helps to have an idea of what I should accomplish each week. This way, if something (missed nap time, for example) prevents me from working on a Monday afternoon, I know that I still have 4 more days to get the task done. I try to plan ahead for actual work deadlines, knowing that things crop up during the week, and it's easier if my deadlines for other people are done ahead of time. 
3. Schedule calls and meetings when you know your kids will be asleep: I usually have 2 - 3 scheduled calls or meetings a week. I always give my availability between 1 and 3 pm when my kids are typically napping. Sometimes one of them takes a short nap (or no nap!) and are up during a call, but everyone is really understanding of my dual-roles and don't mind hearing a little baby chatter on the other end.
4. Work when your kids sleep: This is a big one. I try not to work during the time they are awake. That means early mornings (see #1), always working during nap times, and trying to work for an hour or two at night. I know myself, and I can't do a good job mothering or working when I'm not completely focused one or the other. So, I try to avoid multi-tasking when they are awake. However.... if I need to work when they are awake, I: 
5.  Find engaging activities for each child: Busy boxes, snack time, and creating play spaces around the house are great for engaging them, when I can't be 100% present. Sometimes I spread out a few blankets throughout our downstairs, and put various toys on each one. It keeps Charlotte busy moving from one blanket to the next and playing with the toys. For Hayden, he can be pretty self-entertaining with his trains or other games he makes up, but my last resort is a quick show or iPad time. 
6.  Get out of the house! It can be a little isolating working at home and staying at home with the kids full time, so I try and make it out of the house at least once a day. We go to story time, the gym, run errands or go to our play group. This makes the day go a lot more smoothly for all of us! 

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