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Note from Lisa: Have you recently started working from home, with your kids around? Nadia is here with seven beginner tips for working at home, that can help you get it all done.
Take it away Nadia…
Working from home with kids can make you feel like waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care! Now everybody scream! Okay, so we’re not at the disco, but doesn’t it sound like something you REALLY want to do given the effects of the pandemic. Conferences, meetings and lunches are cancelled or postponed, making our sanctuary – our home -into the office for adults, a classroom for the kids and an entertainment hub for the entire family!
Personally, being at home used to be a time I looked forward to, now there’s some dread knowing at any given time during a zoom meeting one of the kids will shout “Mom, where’s my sweater?” when they can’t find what they are looking for or even open my closed home office door groaning, “what is there to eat?”
Even though my husband is also working from home you know the kids opt to ask mom for things first, so learning to be a writer, mother and office administrator is something I had to get a grip on and set ground rules for my kids. So, I let voice mail pick up the messages from family and friends on my phone, scan incoming calls on my mobile and set a schedule for all to adhere to, so I can meet deadlines, source new work and create paid writing opportunities for myself!
Here are the other things I did that helped me find work at home success.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
One of the biggest factors to understand and accept from the start, is that working from home with everyone at home means you will NOT be as productive as you had hoped.
Navigating work from home has a whole new different meaning when the entire family is at home – all or most of the time. Initially people opted to work from home perhaps to be there for their kids, but now the kids are at home 24/7 days, weeks and months on end, so the daily schedule has changed along with the priorities.
Having high expectations of what your writing capabilities are in a day will only frustrate you further, so expect to go at a slower pace.
2. Establish Ground Rules
It is never easy to set ground rules, there is so much to take into account and top of the list is flexibility. If you have a partner, the rule of flexibility works well.
By splitting your day into shifts you can accommodate when either one of you have to absolutely be present for work while the other one watches the kids. This also works well if Maybe you work for four hours (uninterrupted) in the morning while your partner watches the kids, then you switch. You watch the kids in the afternoon while your partner works.
Then, you must be able to accept defeat sometimes and be able to give, take and bend. Depending on the age of your children, you can already know that once they are up to maybe after lunch it’s near impossible to get work done, but if you set the ground rules you may find that the kids adapt to a routine faster than you think.
They will learn that during certain periods of the day you will be in your ‘home office’. They will learn from the tone of your voice or the way you keep saying, “I’m coming” that this is your time. Depending on their age, explain to your kids what is happening, they will understand and not be turbulent and frustrated with you.
3. Make a Commitment to Work
There must be a commitment to getting your work done, especially when you are working from home where you have to wear several hats. Try and plan a writing schedule a day ahead to stay on top of writing projects and deadlines.
That way you can set time frames to the various things you must get done. Getting your creativity and muse to commit is a whole other topic!
4. Define Your Working Hours
To get work done there are two main times of the day to choose from – the early morning period or late night session. My best work gets done first thing in the morning, just as dawn is breaking and the birds start chirping.
Either times will afford you a kid-free period of time to navigate working from home, maintain sanity and meet deadlines.
For more tips on carving out time to work as a busy mom, see this post:
5. Steal Time
By, stealing time I am referring to times when you simply must get work done but it is just clashing with the kids. You can put on a film for the kids to watch or allow game time on their devices to give you a solid chunk of time in order to meet deadlines.
Technology can work for you and for them as long as you have a good Internet provider and still maintain cut-off periods. Also, steal time to do at least one activity with the kids per day. It can range from having lunch together, reading a story, playing a game. That way they don’t feel ignored and you don’t feel guilty.
6. Be Intentional with Social Media
The Internet brings us social media that beckons our attention. Nowadays, most writers have a social platform be it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even a website that requires updating.
I tend to my Twitter account for about one hour a day, not only does it allow me to post things but there is so much writing information to be aware of such as calls for submissions from editors, publishers and agents, contests and even Twitter pitch events.
I personally find it beneficial to login even if it’s just to browse to ensure I am not missing out on anything. It represents another area that needs to be slotted into working from home, but you need to do it with intention so you don’t waste hours on social media.
7. Work Your Plan
You can use the first six tips for working at home to help you create a plan.
Then it’s time for the hardest part…making everything fall into place.
Yes, there will be hiccups and like everything else getting used to the new normal will take your entire households combined effort. So, structure your daily schedule – make use of weekends when weekdays are non-productive and stay connected.
It will take patience and perseverance to navigating working from home with your kids in the home, but it is possible.
For even more tips on working at home, check out Lisa’s course, Balancing Diapers and Deadlines.