Note from Lisa: I’ve certainly been enjoying my baby blogging break, and snuggles with little Bryson. I’m so thankful for all the ladies who contributed posts for me to share with you. I’ve certainly learned from them!
Today Erica is here to wrap up my guest post series. She shares some tips and strategies for growing your freelancing business while raising and enjoying a spirited child.
Share away Erica!
So you’ve had the fantastic idea of working from home, which allows you to spend more time with your kids as well as to use your talents to make an income. Win-win-win!
You may have imagined yourself lovingly parking your little ones with their favorite toys and books on a rug and then moving to your laptop at the table where you could watch them happily play while you did your work.
After lunch, you’d put them down for naps, and then after some wonderful quality time with you, they’d happily go back to playing as you squeezed in some work before supper.
Okay, who am I kidding? This may sound wonderful, but does anyone really have anything close to this experience?
If you are blessed like I am with a “spirited” child (or perhaps any child, for that matter) this picture might not be close to realistic. Honestly, my little guy is so much fun –he’s so energetic, curious, and sweet–and I love him so much, but working at home with him around has not been easy.
Can anyone relate?
Definitions of a “Spirited Child”
“Spirited child” is a term coined by Mary Sheedy Kurkinka who is an expert on the topic. She wanted to give a positive name to the disposition that often receives (perhaps) more negative terms, such as “strong-willed” or “high-needs”.
No matter what you call them, the spirited sort has many positive traits, but quietly letting mom work is probably not one of them.
According to the WebMD article Parenting by Your Toddler’s Personality Type, about one in ten kids is spirited. They are born with a persistent, strong-willed personality–it is just the wonderful way they were made.
Though we need to gently and firmly guide our children to be the best they can be, we can’t take the spirited-ness out of the child, nor should we—they are likely be excellent leaders one day.
Here are some of the common attributes of spirited children:
- strong, assertive personalities
- full of energy
- keen awareness of others’ feelings
- cry a lot as babies
- want to be held a lot well into toddler-hood
- take some time to warm up to people
- sleep less easily
- don’t want others to change their minds
Want to confirm if your child is spirited? Here’s an assessment that can be used for kids (and adults) of all ages. Your child will come out in one of three categories: easy, spunky, or spirited.
You can also find links to suggestions for parenting kids of all types.
Tips For Working At Home with A Spirited Child
Here are some tips I’ve gleaned from books as well as lots of trial and error. Every child is different, though, so find out what works best for your child:
Do Focused Tasks While Kids are Sleeping
When my son was a baby, he often wanted to be held when awake (or asleep for that matter), so doing computer work during his waking hours wasn’t the best for me.
Even now, my computer work generally happens best when Clayton is sleeping. If I try when Clayton is up, this rarely lasts long. From wanting to sit on my lap and tap the keyboard, to just wanting me to pay attention to him, computer work when he’s up can be frustrating.
Instead of making a to-do list that is sequential, try ordering yours according to types of activities, so you can adjust on the fly. Since spirited kids can be unpredictable with their naps, you may want to list your activities under headings like:
- up and playing
- up and wanting attention
This will allow you to be more flexible. It is also wise to try to get work done ahead of deadlines so that if your kids don’t nap as expected the day it’s due, you won’t be too irked about it.
Include Your Child in Your Work
Many spirited babies and toddlers (but not all–mine included) love to be carried in a baby carrier. Maybe you could do some of your work –at least house work?–while keeping your child happy in the carrier. Some places rent out slings so you and your child can try it out first.
When she’s awake, try to do activities that involve your child. I usually save cleaning for when Clayton is up and I can talk to him while doing so. He also likes to “help” with sweeping and dusting. Or we might go grocery shopping or visit someone.
Even though I don’t accomplish a lot of computer work while my son is awake, I often listen to work-related or parent-related podcasts while he’s up. There are so many good ones out there, such as Power of Moms or Inspired to Action.
You could also use some of that time to think and plan—for example, what you want to write about —and jot down a few notes with pen and paper.
Set Her Up With Engaging Activities
Spirited kids love novel and engaging activities. This doesn’t mean buying lots of new toys. Perhaps you could put half of her toys away in boxes and then take some out to keep her entertained while you do some work.
A multi-textured toy (for babies) or magnets with a cookie sheet (for older ones) may keep them entertained a bit. There are plenty more ideas for great activities here on Lisa’s blog or on Pinterest.
Try putting your child in the seat beside you with an activity or snack as you work. For me, this hasn’t seemed to work very well yet for a more than a few minutes, but I’m optimistic that I’ll have more success in the future.
I’d strongly suggest not having your child watch TV or play computer games much—especially if she is under two. I know this is so tempting, since screens really do seem to keep them entertained.
But the American Pediatric Association recommends zero hours of TV for those under 2 (and little for those above 2), and there is growing evidence that it is quite detrimental to a child’s development. Instead, put some fun music on while she plays.
Take Breaks and Do Things You Both Enjoy
Even if your child seems content to play, take breaks once in a while from your work to engage and play with him. This quality time will help fill his “love tank”—as well as yours—and will (maybe) keep him content for longer.
If nothing else seems to be working, perhaps you both just need to get out of the house. Spirited kids often love to be outdoors, or you could go to a special center where parents and kids hang out so your child can be entertained while you socialize with other moms.
If your child is happy to be babysat, this might be an option for you if you can afford it. Or perhaps a friend or family member would love to care for him for free or in exchange for something.
Spirited kids are often clingy to momma in their beginning years, though, so please do what you think is best for your child. Also, of course, make sure the person is very safe.
When Clayton turned 1 1/2 and was more comfortable being left with others, I decided to try to put him in a great daycare 3 mornings a week. I know…a work-at-home mom with a child in day care…it’s kind of humorous and wasn’t my original plan.
But Clayton, being an extrovert, enjoys the people and activities. Many spirited children are introverts, though, so again do what you think his best.
Adjust Your Expectations
It can be frustrating when you hoped for ample time to work from home and your little guy or gal just doesn’t want to cooperate. Maybe there are other ways you can save and make money from home right now? These years will turn out to be short.
Enjoy your child as much as possible, and perhaps adjust your expectations about how much work you can accomplish in this season of life. Put your child’s needs first and you’ll look back on these years happy you did.
We can do it. You go, mom!
Some books you may want to check out:
Raising Your Spirited Child, Third Edition: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic
by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D.
The Baby Book, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by William and Martha Sears
The Fussy Baby Book: Parenting Your High-Need Child From Birth to Age Five by William Sears (I haven’t actually read that last one yet, but since it’s by Dr. Sears, I’m guessing it’s good.)
Got more ideas and thoughts on how to work from home with spirited children? Share them in the comments.