(I thought a picture of my kids taking over my workroom to do homework was appropriate for this post LOL)
It’s been quite some time since I shared about how I work from home with kids, and since then life has changed a lot and so has how I work.
At first I was planning on just telling you about how my day looks right now, but I’m not sure that’s the whole story. I’m in one particular season of life. Maybe it’s more helpful to share the actual strategies I use?
Running a business from home is not easy – it is hard, and it’s a constant juggle to fit everything in. I’ve been working from home since 2010 when I launched my ready to wear clothing line. I was 7 months pregnant with Buddy, and Bunny was almost a year and a half old. I’ve been fitting working from home in around family life for over 6 years, and throughout my childrens various ages and stages.
If you want to know my main secret for getting things done, it’s quite simple. I am very serious, super serious about predictable routine and my kids sleeping well and playing on their own once a day. Regular dependable routine helps us all, and it’s the backbone for a productive day.
I believe strongly in sleep training. All three of my kids have napped regularly, and long. All three of my kids have slept through the night since they were 2 months old. People like to tell me I got lucky, or that they are just natural sleepers. I usually smile politely, even though it’s just not true. You don’t get lucky three times in a row, and I know that all of the work I put into helping them learn to sleep on their own was worth it.
What this means for me is that I am generally well rested, and so are my kids. When they are babies my kids have at least two 1.5 hour naps a day, and once they are toddlers one nap that ranges from 2.5-3.5 hours. This means I can rely on consistent work time every day. I know it’s coming, and I can plan for it.
I also have the policy that any kids who are not in school should have room time once a day. This is a short amount of time that they spend on their own in their room with the door closed playing. I like to do this early in the morning so there is no risk of anyone confusing it with a nap or falling asleep by accident because they’re tired.
Right now Birdie has her room time at 9am, right after school drop off. It lasts half an hour. It’s taken us almost a year to build up to half an hour. Bunny did more than this at the same age, so I could probably push it, but we’re happy for now. She naps for 2.5 hours during school term, and anything from 2.5-3.5 hours in school breaks and on weekends (I have to wake her up for school pick up). That means that right now I have a solid 3 hours each day of planned work. On the weekend I get more or less depending on what is going on that day.
Doesn’t really sound like a lot does it? It isn’t. Which is where my second trick comes in: good planning. All of our pattern development and releases are planned out almost a year in advance. Everything that ever has to be done is written down and allocated to someone with a due date. Ask my assistant Sarah how many different to do lists there are and she will probably laugh. We use a couple of different team organization software programs to help us keep on track, as well as more traditional methods like sticking post its on the wall. This means when I sit down to work I don’t lose focus and go off onto something else, I do what is necessary and important right now. Seemingly mundane tasks do not get put off. I’m a very hard worker, so I literally hit it hard when it’s work time, right up until the minute it’s over. There is no room for being lazy or lax when you only have a few hours available.
A GOOD TEAM
My very last trick is: getting help. A few years ago I got into a terrible cycle of working too much. My plan was to burn the candle at both ends until I burnt out, which I inevitably did. Big time. That experience taught me a valuable lesson about not trying to do everything yourself. Now I am blessed to work with Sarah, who handles daily operations and Yvette, who is my talented graphic designer. Knowing these important sides of the business are attended to leaves me with more time to develop patterns. On the blog side of things, Sarah of Lace and Pine pops in to share tutorials once in a while, and in previous years my dear Holly worked a lot here on Design Diary (though right now she is taking time off for motherhood, check out her cutiepie!). I also have two contributors Dana and Heather who help create great nursing and maternity DIY tutorials for my other blog DIYMaternity.
A REALLY HONEST LOOK AT MY DAY
So now you know all my secrets, here is how a normal weekday goes for me right now in 2016:
6:00 am // Birdie wakes me up at 6am like clockwork (though recently she has woken at 7 a few times, and that has been amazing with a capital A!), we stumble out of bed and Chris and I have that all important first coffee of the day, Birdie has her milk, and we start on the glamorous job of unpacking the dishwasher from the night before, cleaning the kitchen. Oh and laundry. My favourite (so much sarcasm it hurts).
7:00 am // Bunny and Buddy wake up (or I wake them up), then we all have breakfast and I get started on making their school lunches. We all get ready for the day (which means constantly prodding them to do their morning tasks).
If it’s a particularly busy time for me with work, then Chris will do the entire kids morning routine and I will work from around 6:15 (ie the second I get the coffee in my body LOL) till 8:30. I try to avoid this, but it happens.
8:30 am // Chris walks the big kids to school and takes Birdie along for the ride. I love that he is able to spend this time with them. Not going to lie, I miss walking them to school, but it’s so important they get Dad time too. While the house is empty I have quiet time. This is the time I set aside to pray and read the bible and spend time with God. Chris and Birdie are usually back by 8:50/9 and Birdie and I play for a little bit until her room time.
9:00 am // Birdie has room time. I put out some of her favourite toys and activities (I rotate them pretty regularly so she doesn’t get bored), close her door, and set a timer for half an hour. This is my time to catch up on emails or attend to anything really pressing.
9:30 am // Birdie starts to get a little tired of room time right on time. I go in and play with her in her room for a bit, then we go out and have morning tea and do other things around the house, or whatever errands have to be run. Most of our morning is split between housework, and spending time together playing and reading books. She loves to help me in the kitchen so we often bake. We also spend a lot of time outside, which I really love.
11:45 am // we both have lunch. I like to eat early so that I don’t ever waste work time eating lunch, but also because I just really enjoy sitting at the table just the two of us.
12:30 pm //Birdie goes down for her nap. As soon as Birdie is in bed I put the kettle on (I drink too much tea) and literally run to my office. I think it’s important to note that I never do chores or anything non-work related during this time unless I absolutely cannot get out of it. I work solidly until school pick up time or when Birdie wakes up.
3:00 pm // I wake Birdie up, pop a cup of milk in her hands, put her in the pram and we walk up to school. I love this time of day, I miss Bunny and Buddy a lot all day, and I get really excited about picking them up. The afternoon is a blur of snacking, playing, homework and cooking dinner.
5:30 pm // Chris gets home and we all eat. If it’s summer then there’s a quick swim in the pool for the kids, bath time, bible time, reading time and then bed.
Birdie goes to bed at 7pm and Bunny and Buddy go to bed at 7:45pm.
8:00 pm // Chris and I put the kettle on, make a tea and chat about the day. We often watch some tv (I’m trying really hard to get Chris into home renovation shows hehe). This is pretty new for us, and I really like it. For quite some time I had the really bad habit working late into the night. It was really bad for me, and I got sick and run down. These days the only times I work at night are once again, if things are super busy and I can’t avoid it. I try to make evening rest a priority.
10:00 pm // I check on all the kids, can’t resist giving them kisses, and we’re ready for sleep. And then it all starts again the next day!
So my dears, that is my day in a nutshell and my tricks for working from home with kids! I think its worth mentioning that the way I work is just one way of working from home. I know other mums who find different ways to fit it all in – this is just my way, not the right way or the best way or the only way – just my way :)
If you have any questions let me know in the comments below!