I watch my grandbabies for a couple of hours in the morning while my daughter is working. Yesterday, I had them most of the day. I forget sometimes how hard it is to try and wrangle a 2 and 4 year old and still manage to get anything done. If it weren’t for my husband, yesterday would have been a total wash, until naptime. When they zonked out, I went to work and plowed through my to do list.
When I started my business, my youngest were 2 and 4. I was fortunate, even though their dad was a truck driver and gone most of the time, I had older kids, my mom lived with us and so did my sister-in-law. Needless to say, I had plenty of help to watch kids while I worked. But you know how it goes…they want mom. ALL. THE. TIME.
But that’s why I started my company. So I could be there for my kids. I LOVE being home when they go to school, and being home when they get home from school. I’ve never missed a school function, field trip, conference, etc. (not for the younger 2 anyway). My kids just know that mom will always be there when they need her. And that’s only because I do what I do.
Working a 9-5 is an entirely different story. In most cases, you don’t get to take time off because of a school field trip. Imagine having a sick kid…I recently went through a nasty bought of stomach flu that had my girls down for the count for 6 days. Try doing that with a 9-5 and unless you have an amazing boss, you’d quickly be back in the unemployment line. I don’t miss the days of answering to someone else.
Yesterday reminded me of those early days in my business and I had to stop and think about how in the world I managed to build a business with small kids at home.
Here’s what I came up with:
- Get up early. I love getting up and working in the wee hours of the morning before anyone else is up. It’s my most productive time of day. For years off and on I would do this and it’s always proven to be a valuable habit to have. I use this time to work solely on my business. I write, I organize, I brainstorm. I’m at my peak between 5am – 7am.
- Naptime rocks! If you have little ones at home, they generally take a 2-3 hour nap during the day. Toss the dishes in the dishwasher, put a load in the washer and get to work! Naptime is a prime window of opportunity to knock out that to do list.
- Work late. If you’re not a morning person, then work late after the kiddos go to bed. I know many web designers and Virtual Assistants who do their best work late at night. Find the schedule that works best for you and your family.
- Enlist in help. If you are at all able, get some help at least a couple of days a week. Enlist a family member. Find other moms where you can trade off watching kids. Send them to daycare for a few hours. One of my main reasons for working at home was so my younger two never had to go to daycare. In many ways I regret that decision. They weren’t exposed to germs and get sick quite easily. They didn’t get to play with other kids and have been incredibly shy their entire lives. Daycare isn’t a bad thing…as long as you find a great one.
- Set up your office where they play. I do this now with my grandbabies. My desk is in my bedroom. Quite often I will just bring in toys and let them play in here so I can easily keep an eye on them while I am still working. I’m right here to give them attention and still knock out those little tasks that don’t take a lot of brainpower.
- Make time for the kids. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work, you just brush off their need for attention. Take 5 minutes and give them your undivided attention. Plan your day around their schedule. They won’t be little for long. So enjoy it. Savor every moment you can.
- Take the weekends off. You need to have family time. The world won’t end if you take off the weekends. I’m a workaholic. I LOVE what I do. I would work 7 days a week if I don’t force myself to take weekends off. Now I’ve become so used to that downtime, it’s hell if I have to work on a weekend. You need that time to regroup and recharge and your family needs you.
Those little humans won’t be little for long. I made the mistake of rushing milestones and not savoring every moment with my older two kids. I was a single mom back then and they lived in daycare. I missed everything. And I regretted that for years. So I jumped on the chance to stay home and make money. I figured out what worked and what didn’t and I made it work. It’s been 10 years. And now, I’m able to be there for my grandbabies and watch them while I work.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is worth it.
What tips do you have for other moms who are trying to build their money-making machines at home? Share in the comments below.