Episode 8: How to Work From Home with Kids And Still Get Things Done

with Sarah Petty

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Your life has suddenly been thrown into a tailspin. In this absolute chaos, jobs were dumped on you that you didn’t even apply for: teacher, principal, parent, disciplinarian, AV department, 24/7 cook, cleaning staff. Take a deep breath, and stick with me… working from home doesn’t have to be a nightmare. I’m outlining three ways you can work from home with your kids, and still get things done. I promise you won’t end up fighting your kids for the corner to cry in. 

For those of you who are parents, you know that parenting is a lot like entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship is a lot like parenting. Just when you think you have something figured out, chaos strikes. I had three kids in two and a half years. Needless to say, there was some fighting, some crying, and some unexpected chaos for quite a few years.

Why Being A Working Mom Had Me In Tears

I remember when I had a sitter who couldn’t work for the week. She had a week off and was traveling. I didn’t have anyone to fill in, and I had three little kids. The twins were six and my youngest was a four-year-old– that age where they’re bickering and fighting. But I thought, “It’s okay, I can run my business and be a mom at the same time.” That was my goal… and it did not go well. Oh gosh. By the end of this week, I was in tears. I was frustrated. My kids were in the backseat of my car, fighting, poking each other. I couldn’t do it. It was terrible.

I knew I needed a career to stimulate my mental capacity because being a mom full time clearly ended in tears. I realized if I wait until my life is perfect, my business will never happen. Even when your kids grow, they come back, they have needs, and you might have grandkids, too. There really is no perfect time in your life, so we might as well just figure it out now. 

Three Ways You Can Work From Home Like A Boss

But it isn’t always that easy, is it? Maybe you’re a single parent. Maybe your partner works opposite hours. Or maybe you don’t have a sitter. Whatever those conflicts and challenges are, you can plan around them when you’re an entrepreneur, right? If you have a job, you have to leave early in the morning and create your own hours and systems around your family. You just have to plan it right.

I’m going to give you three things you can do to work from home with kids under your feet and still get things done. For me, I had to make sure that I was being productive because my hubby had started his own business, but hadn’t fully replaced his salary yet with his new business. I had left my job, and I wasn’t making money, so I couldn’t hire anyone. I had to figure out how to be productive on my own.

The Four Categories You Need to Plan for Tomorrow

The first thing I learned early on was to plan my day tomorrow. We know that failing to plan is planning to fail. You can’t just wake up and be like, “Oh, I have a minute. Everybody’s playing quietly. I’m going to hop on Facebook.” Boom. Your day’s gone. So, take out a piece of paper, and draw four quadrants and write each of these words in separate quadrants: Call, Do, Go, and Back Burner.

These four categories of activities can help you plan your day. For instance, if you have a 15 minute break of quietness, you can make a couple of calls. If you have a couple of hours, maybe you can leave your house and make one trip of all the things you have to “Go” to. Maybe when your kiddos are eating lunch, you can get some time to “Do” a couple of things on your list without distraction. Then, for the “Back Burner” column, you can add the extra things that don’t have an urgent time frame. If you get done with all your other things and feel good, you can use any extra time to knock those out.

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Implement Your Schedule Like It’s Your Job… Because It Is

Number two, schedule time to work on your business. The only reason anything gets done, whether it’s clients showing up for a session or an in-person consultation, is because it’s on your calendar. And if you don’t put them on your calendar, they don’t happen. You’ve got to get religious about scheduling a time to work on your business. It’s just like anything else, even if you’re working from home, if you don’t put it on your calendar, how can you ever expect it to happen?

Now, since you have kiddos at home, you’re literally going to have to schedule a distraction free time so that you can focus on your business. This is where that tenacity comes in. Maybe you do a child swap with one of your friends that has kids, too. You say, “Hey, I’ll keep your kids on Thursday if you keep my kids on Tuesday or let’s do half day, half day.” Negotiate with your spouse or partner or your parent for some dedicated time. Schedule it, and show up for yourself just like you would show up for clients. Tenacity, resourcefulness. They’re so important. 

The Two Types of Tasks for Working From Home

Number three, have prepping time and doing time. You’ve got two different kinds of tasks. The first type are super important, revenue-generating tasks that need your time and concentration. The second type are non-revenue generating tasks like paying bills, cleaning out emails, things like that. Prepare for some heavy lifting during that really important time. Then while your kids are playing and you can’t fully concentrate, that’s when you do your prep work so that when you do get you “Doing Time” to really concentrate, you don’t have to waste time prepping.

Here’s the thing. You probably aren’t going to be as productive. And it’s okay, because you’re working at home with kids, trying to get stuff done. But that doesn’t mean your business has to come to a screeching halt. It’s just going to look different. With some good planning, scheduling your time and chunking out your most productive tasks, you’re going to get the balance back in your life. It might just have to go a little slower right now, and that’s okay. We just have to keep it going. 

The key is to use your productive time to work on only those most important tasks, the big things that make you feel accomplished. Then, when you aren’t working, you can be fully present with your family, instead of worrying about your to-do list. The key to balance and productivity always comes back to planning. Napoleon Hill said it the best. He said, “Plan your work, and work your plan.” You can do this. 

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I'm Sarah Petty

I’m a photographer living in the middle of a cornfield (central Illinois), momma of three teenage kiddos (plus a cat & dog) and an educator for all things photography business. Favorites: Earl Grey Tea (not coffee!), anything orange and clothes that are made for tall girls 

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