By Lisa Tanner, freelance writer and contributor to this blog
Working from home with kids isn’t always easy. There will be challenges along the way. And you will face problems. But, with a little bit of planning and being intentional, you can overcome any challenges that comes your way.
To help you succeed, I’m going to share tips for dealing with three common problems that moms face when starting or growing a home business:
- Your business can consume your life
- You will feel guilty
- There will be distractions
Almost everyone working from home with kids that I know have dealt with at least one of these challenges. Most, including me, have dealt with them all.
But, these problems don’t have to prevent you from pursuing your passion and working from home. Let’s look at each one in more detail and give you a plan for overcoming them all.
1. Your Business Can Consume Your Life
Your business is always with you when you work from home. You can open up your computer or check your email and social feeds on your phone. And you can do this anytime, night or day. Weekday or weekend. Even on holidays.
It doesn’t matter – you have access to your business all the time. And if you aren’t intentional about setting boundaries, your business will slowly consume your life.
While this phenomenon can happen to anyone working from home, I’ve discovered that moms are much more susceptible. They’re used to working in the margins, fitting in a few minutes here or there, whenever they get an opportunity. It can look something like this:
- Are the kids playing quietly? Outline a blog post.
- Waiting on meat to defrost in the microwave? Send an email.
- Is it quiet time? Do some focused work.
- Have a few minutes without interruptions? Check your social feeds and respond to comments.
And while this is how many moms work, it has a huge downside. You are training your brain that whenever you have a few minutes, you should do something related to your business.
This thinking pattern can make it nearly impossible for you to enjoy some down time. Or play with your kids without worrying that you should be doing something to grow your business. You begin to feel like in order to make progress, you must devote every spare minute to working.
When you let your business consume your life, your work-life balance is terribly out of sync. And you need to address the problem sooner rather than later.
How to Keep Your Business from Taking Over Your Life
If you’re struggling with establishing or abiding by boundaries for your business, here are a few tips to help.
Set Work Hours
Do you really need to be responding to emails at midnight? Or tackling social media comments on a holiday?
No. Your business is not going to fail because you set work hours.
Now, as a busy mom, you may need to get creative with your work hours. The typical 9-5 probably won’t work for you. Especially if you’re also homeschooling and your kids are there all day long.
Spend some time thinking about your day and routines. When can you realistically spend time on your business? For instance, I’ve discovered I can get a ton of focused work done after my kids go to bed for the night.
Whenever I tried to work early in the morning, they’d always wake up and I’d get nothing done. And then I’d get mad. So, I changed my work hours to fit what actually works for my day.
Currently, I don’t do anything for my business until after we’ve spent the morning together homeschooling and enjoying time together. Then, I can work a little bit during quiet time.
And after the kids go to bed, I hit it hard. I often work from 8 pm to midnight. That gives me a solid four hours each day, when I can tackle my client assignments and personal business activities.
Your schedule may look completely different. If your kids are in school, it might make more sense for you to do your focused work while they are gone.
Do what works for you.
Setting boundaries is often a slow process, and you will need to adjust through each season of life. What works for you today may not work four months from now when your baby is cutting a tooth, or your child takes up basketball.
So be flexible. But, know when you are going to work. And when you aren’t.
Also, I recommend keeping at least one day a week work free. You really do need to give your brain a chance to relax so you don’t face mental burnout.
Schedule Time with Your Family
Your family deserves some of your time. Time when you aren’t glued to a cell phone or trying to do, “one more thing” on your laptop.
So be proactive and schedule this time into your day. Know when you are going to focus on your family. And then commit to keeping that appointment.
Taking time for fun is important.
Know What Tasks to Drop
Take a moment and step back. Spend some time thinking about what really matters for your business. You don’t have to do all the things.
What are you currently spending time on that isn’t doing anything to move the needle on your business? Where are you pouring your time and energy that isn’t worth it?
Make a list. And then cut those tasks. Or at least cut down on them.
When you’re working from home with kids, you have to be intentional in what you do. If something isn’t working, don’t feel like you have to keep doing it just because another mompreneur said you should.
For more tips on growing a business that doesn’t consume your life, be sure to join Sally’s Work-At-Home Library. This library has loads of resources to help you focus on what really matters – and they are all accessible for FREE!
2. You Will Feel Guilty
It never fails. You sit down to work on your business and a flash of working mom guilt pops up. Your brain thinks of all the other things you should be doing. Things like:
- Reading with the kids
- Playing with the kids
- Not letting the kids watch so much tv
The list goes on and on. There’s so much to do. And sometimes, when you’re intentionally focusing on your business, you can’t get those other things out of your mind.
But, when you decide to go do those things, new tasks pop into your head. You begin to think of all the tasks on your business to-do list that you should be working on. And you feel guilty for pushing those off.
Working mom guilt can be paralyzing. Many moms feel that no matter what they do, they are never good enough. There’s always more they should be doing.
When you’re struggling with working mom guilt, here is an important truth:
You can run a business AND be a good mom at the same time.
No matter what lies your brain tries to get you to believe, they are simply not true. You do not have to do anything to prove yourself. You are enough.
So, tell yourself the truth. And help yourself out by creating clear routines and boundaries. Know when it’s time to tackle housework, or play with the kids, or focus on your business.
And then whatever it is time for at the moment, let the rest go. Do not feel guilty for sticking to the schedule you created.
Sally has a great post that dives into more detail about getting rid of working mom guilt. You can find it here:
3. There Will Be Distractions When Working from Home with Kids
When you’re growing a home business around kids, there will be distractions. You will be in the middle of writing a blog post and the toddler will have a blowout. Or the preschooler will fall and scrape her knee.
No matter the age of your kids, life happens, and interruptions occur…right when you are supposed to be working. It’s a definite struggle about working from home with kids.
And if you let them, the distractions can completely throw you off from your work and prevent you from moving forward. But they don’t have to. Here are three tips for dealing with distractions and staying productive.
1. Know What You Can Safely Ignore
You probably have a baseline noise level in your home. I’ve learned that whenever things get really loud, or really quiet, it’s probably time for me to investigate.
But, if the noise level is at baseline, I can typically keep working without worrying. I tune out many of the everyday noises that come with having a large family, and get the job done.
In your life, you will discover many distractions you can safely ignore. The dog barking at a passing car? Not a big deal. The dog barking furiously because someone is at the door? Probably something you shouldn’t ignore.
The kids playing together and making noise and some occasional shouts of glee? No worries. A child screaming in pain? Something you need to take care of.
Think about a typical day in your house and all the noise. What things can you ignore? And which ones do you need to pay attention to?
The more you can safely ignore, the more you can train your brain to let those common noises fade into the background and keep working.
2. Give Yourself Clues
Some distractions need dealt with right away. And you never know when they’ll happen.
That’s why I recommend giving yourself clues that’ll help you get back to the job when you return. Here are some examples:
- Writing a blog post? Always have an outline and jot down a few words in each section to help you remember where you wanted to take your readers.
- Scheduling all your old blog posts to social media? Have a system in place to mark where you left off.
- Doing your bookkeeping? Move the receipts you entered into a different folder on your computer (or if you’re using physical paper, to a different location).
These may seem insignificant, but these clues make all the difference when you have to leave unexpectedly and then jump back in later. The less time you waste trying to remember what you were going to write about, or which step of the process you were on, the better.
3. Remember Your Why & Watch Your Attitude
Why did you start your business in the first place? I started mine because I wanted to help my family get out of debt but didn’t want to return to teaching in a classroom.
That’s because I wanted to spend more time with my kids.
My kids are my why.
And when interruptions happen and I have to spend a little unplanned time dealing with my kids, I need to keep things in perspective.
Your attitude matters when it comes to dealing with interruptions. Remember that your kids aren’t always going to need you in this same way. They grow and change rather quickly.
So put a smile on your face and enjoy the moment, even though you’d rather be working than dealing with a mess. Or chasing a dog (or cow) that jumped the fence.
Your kids are watching you and learning how to deal with interruptions in their own life. Set a good example for them to learn from…
4. Prevent What You Can
Some interruptions are preventable. If you get distracted every time your phone dings, it’s time for you to shut off notifications. At least while you’re working. The world isn’t going to end if you don’t respond to a Tweet or text right away.
Teach your kids to play quietly and entertain themselves. Then they’ll be less likely to disturb you because they’re bored and want entertained.
Preventing distractions from happening will definitely increase your productivity.
Problem Solving Is an Important Skill When You’re Working from Home with Kids
These aren’t the only problems you’re going to face when working from home with kids. So, it’s important to remember that problem solving is an important skill.
When you find yourself facing a problem, take time to brainstorm. What can you do that’ll help alleviate the problem?
Can you change something in your routine? Or shut something off? Or find a new way of doing something?
Problems tend to have solutions – but, you do have to look for them. And sometimes it helps to talk it over with someone else. Another working mom may already have a great solution that you haven’t thought of. So, don’t try to do everything on your own.
If you’re looking for a great work-at-home community to join, you have to check out the WAH Resource Library. In addition to great resources and courses to help you start and grow a business, you’ll be invited to join a supportive group who can help you deal with problems you’re facing. Click the banner to learn more.