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As a mompreneur, it’s important to create a workspace for your business. You need a space for your business things to call home. A place to keep your planner, ideas book, and everything else. A place you can teach your kids not to play on/in.
When you create a workplace, you also have an area where you can train your brain to be in “work mode.”
But, if you’re going to be working from home while you’re also taking care of your kids, you can’t just go in another room and shut the door. Otherwise your kids will find all sorts of things to do, that you may not approve of.
So in this post, I’m going to share some tips for creating both a place where you can work with your kids nearby, and also a place where you can store all your things. Depending on your home’s layout, these may or may not be the same space.
My work area has changed a couple of times over the years, but here are the principles I always use to create a workspace in my home.
1. Have a Home Base
You can’t pack around your entire work space, so you really need a home base. For me, it’s a roll-top desk. It’s been in the living room, and is now in our home office space. Wherever it is, it holds the bulk of what I need for my business.
In the desk you’ll find:
- The charger for my laptop
- A phone charger
- Several pens and packs of index cards for taking notes and outlining
- Files with printed out records and other physical documents
- Basic office supplies
- Any homeschool products I’m reviewing for my other blog
It’s a place where I can store things I don’t use all the time, but still want to know where they are. It’s an area I’ve taught my older kids not to take things from without asking. And I’m working on training the younger ones to do the same.
Without a home base, my things get lost. I don’t know where to keep my work items, so I just set them down somewhere. Then one of the younger kids doodles on my notes or my child with Pica eats a couple of pages from a book I’m reviewing.
This leads to frustration, as you can imagine. It’s so much nicer to have a home for my things.
When picking a home base, here’s what I looked for:
- Something that could close (I love the roll top on my desk, because I can keep the younger kids out of the top area. Having it closable also kept my living room from looking cluttered when I was in the middle of a creative project.)
- A place with drawers so I could organize a bit
- Room for my laptop and other tech stuff
Before deciding to use the desk, I thought about repurposing an old dresser. It was the perfect height to use as a “standing desk” and I could have had my laptop charging area on top. Then the drawers could be filled with my supplies.
I also considered using a rolling storage cart, because I liked the portability. It was something I could house behind the dining room table, and then pull it out when needed.
Your home base doesn’t need to be fancy. It does need to meet your needs. So spend a few minutes brainstorming what your area must have. Then start thinking about ways to make it happen in your space.
Here’s a pic of my home base. I really love the storage this desk gives me!
2. Opt for a Laptop
We have one desktop computer in the house, and it’s what I use for doing bookkeeping for one of my VA clients. It’s also the computer I use when I need Photoshop.
But, the desktop is in the office. I can’t keep an eye on the kids easily while working on it. So I stick to using it when my husband is home, or after the kids are in bed at night.
The vast majority of my work is done on my laptop. I started out with just an inexpensive machine from Best Buy. It lasted a long time! But, my husband just surprised me with an early Christmas gift – Microsoft Surface Laptop 2! I absolutely love it, my boot time has been reduced drastically and the whole machine just runs faster.
If you’re in the market for a new laptop, this one definitely gets my recommendation!
Regardless of the style of laptop you use, here are the three main reasons I prefer a laptop to the desktop:
- Portable – you can work at the dining room table or from your home base. You can even take it to the waiting room and put it to use while you’re killing time!
- Smaller footprint. My Surface is small, so I don’t need a ton of space to set it up and work. By comparison, the desktop is huge.
- Can run wirelessly. My little kids LOVE to pull on wires. It drives me crazy! And it makes working difficult if they’re tugging on my mouse’s cord or trying to unplug my keyboard.
3. Prepare the Space for Kids
I know my kids are going to be nearby while I work. Currently I’m sitting at the dining room table with my laptop. I’m wearing the sleeping baby in a sling, and hoping he stays asleep until I get this post written!
A couple of the other kids are in the same room as me. They’re playing a game together, but I know they’ll be coming over soon.
Because I know that my workspace needs to be safe for my kids as well, I’m prepared. I have some toys on the table behind my laptop that I can hand to the toddler when he gets bored. I have the room as child-proofed as I can get it, so I don’t have to worry about the little ones finding something they shouldn’t have.
We used to have tall baby gates completely blocking off access to the rest of the house from this living/dining room. But, as our child with special needs got bigger and stronger, they become a hazard. He tried climbing over them and just pushed through them, knocking the whole gate over.
So we’ve taken those down, but I really miss them!
Think about your main work area, and decide how you can make it a space where you and your children can peacefully coexist. You don’t want a ton of breakable items in there, or things you don’t want your kids touching.
If you have end tables or something, consider adding some toys. If you have toddlers who love to empty out cupboards, this gives them an area where they can explore and empty without getting into mischief.
I like to keep some blankets nearby, so the kids can create beds on the floor, or pull around them on chilly days.
Depending on what you’re doing in your business, you may be spending quite a bit of time in your work area. Make sure it’s comfortable for everyone.
4. Declutter Frequently
My desk isn’t always spic and span. In fact, I often have to stop and clear it off before I return my laptop to it in the evenings.
By taking time regularly to declutter the area, I make sure it never gets too bad. It keeps me from stacking up papers and never looking at them again.
I tend to take lots of notes by hand, and then transfer them to the computer if it’s something I need long-term. These papers need to get tossed in with the papers to go in the wood stove instead of staying stacked up on my desk.
So spend a couple of minutes each week decluttering your work space. It’ll help make it more pleasant to use.
5. Use Your Space
Even when my home base desk was in the living room, I often moved to the dining room table to work. My brain now has associated the table with “work mode.” When I sit here, I can knock out blog posts much more quickly than when I try to sit at the desk.
The chairs are comfortable, the height is right, and I can easily keep an eye on the kids.
It works for me!
But, I can’t keep everything set up on the table at all times. We need that space for meals. So, I have to utilize the desk as “my space.” When I forget about my workspace, I lose things. Or the kids draw on them. It never seems to end well when my work stuff gets left in the living room when I’m not actually working.
So use your space. Put your things away.
And figure out where you work best. You really will work faster when you’re in a space where you’re comfortable and not constantly worrying about the trouble your kids are getting into.
6. Teach Your Kids to Respect Your Workspace
Ideally, you would never have to worry about your kids taking things from your workspace. They wouldn’t stack their own stuff there either.
But, the only way to get there is to teach your kids to respect your home base.
This takes time and patience.
I start when my kids are toddlers, by firmly saying “no” if they try to take something from my desk or pound on my computer or something. Then I move them away or provide a toy or something to distract them.
As they get older, I say, “No, that’s for Mommy’s work.” Continue to be consistent with this, and your kids should eventually learn that you don’t want them using the stuff in your home base.
My older kids sometimes forget that it’s my space. So I remind them kindly. I let them know that it’s my area of the house, and I need to keep track of the things in there for my business.
When everyone is on the same page, it’s so much easier because they remind each other. I like it when that happens!
Did You Create a Workspace?
I’d love to hear about where you work. Do you have a portable system like I do, with a home base, or do you do all of your work from a specific space in the house?
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.