Working From Home With Spouse And Kids
I know that when you originally signed up to be a small business owner, you probably didn't do it with the expectation that everybody was going to be home all the time. Whether you're working for somebody else, working for yourself, or maybe you're trying to figure out how to set up a business with everybody at home all the time, I wanted to share some tips with you for how to create a working environment. This is something that a lot of our bookkeepers struggle with when they start Bookkeeper Training School.
So let's talk about working with your kids and spouse at home. I'm going to give you a whole bunch of tips that I think are really useful in general, but especially right now. Everybody's home, and you probably don't have some of your support systems available anymore because of Corona.
Have A Place To Work
First of all, it is incredibly important that you have a place to work. Now that might not be a permanent place to work. You might not have the space in the house to set up a dedicated area. But look at your spaces and find a space where you can work from. Figure out where you want that workplace to be. You need to think about what is most conducive for your children based on their age.
Make Sure Your Work Area Is Conducive For Your Children
You can set up your workspace where your kids are playing. Or if your kids are doing remote school, you can set up your workspace in the dining room table with them so that you're all working together. What tends to cause a lot of the strife and the angst with kids is that they want to be with you. They want to be near you. It gives them a sense of security.
One thing I love is a desk called the edge desk. It's a completely foldable mobile desk that you can move around. You can move it around to wherever you need to work to be with your kids.
You can also get a rolling laptop cart. These are small ones where you can put your laptop on and move it around your house. But, figure out what would work for you. If you need to be able to move it wherever you need to go, you want to have that workspace.
Noise Cancelling Microphone
If you have a job where you're going to need to be speaking, get a noise canceling microphone. Make sure it has a mute button. Or if you record on Zoom have your mouse over the mute button. So in case something happens, you can easily mute.
Be Clear With Your Clients About Working From Home
Be straightforward with your clients. Let them know you have kids at home with you. Sometimes things happen. You might not have babysitting. Or your kid gets sick. Maybe, your kids are going to bust in on a Zoom call. So pick your clients and make sure that they are okay with that. One of the great things about being self employed is that you get to make those decisions. You get to decide who you're going to work with and who you're not going to work with.
When Working From Home, Divvy Up Child Care
So the next thing is divvying up child care. Really to look at your situation and determine what your childcare options are.
So for Jeff and I, we split the day. What that means for us is that I typically work in the mornings and Jeff works in the afternoons.
The other thing that you can do is see if you can create a pod. A pod is a group of other parents who are in a similar situation who may be willing to split the day with you or watch the kids on alternate days. Think about what that could look like in your household. It's also really important that you establish some ground rules.
You don't have to have a ton of structure. You don't need to have every single thing worked out. But it helps if you have themes as part of the days where you use meals as an anchor for your day.
Take Time To Burn Off Some Energy While Working From Home
It's really important if you're working or your kid is in remote school, that you take the time to let them burn some energy. You need to work that into your schedule. You as an adult, need that too. Typically you're sitting at your desk all day, and you need to burn off some energy.
As humans, we're not meant to sit for long periods of time. And little kids aren't either. So make sure you get those time in your schedule to get the kids up and running around a little bit and burn off some energy. Just put on a song and have a dance party.
Work In Bursts
The next thing I would recommend is that you work in bursts. Make sure that you are taking breaks. They've done research studies on this, that if you work in really focused bursts of like 60 to 90 minutes, and then you take some time to get up and do something physical, the next burst that you do is going to be more productive than if you just tried to work through.
But you tend to have this mentality that productivity equals butts in seats. That you have to have your butt in your seat from eight or nine in the morning until four or five o'clock in the afternoon. And if you don't get that time in, then clearly you're not doing enough. But no, that's not how this works. It doesn't matter how much time you sit in a seat, if it's not productive time.
So work in bursts. Kids do really well when they work in bursts too Now, their bursts are typically going to be shorter. But if you can get your kid to focus for 30 minutes and then let them play for 30 minutes and then come back they'll get more done.
Communication Is Key When Working From Home
It's really, really important when you're working from home that you communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. I am a huge fan of telling your customers and your clients:
- How you work
- What your hours are
- How they can reach out to you
- How long it's going to take you to respond to them when they do reach out to you.
I call it the "How I Work" document. It is critically important to setting boundaries and guidelines with your clients.
A lot of times when you start a business, you're just so excited to have clients that you don't set any boundaries at all. And it's critically important that those boundaries get put in place.
Work Unconventional Hours
Sometimes you have to think about non-conventional working. Sometimes that means that you're going to work really early in the morning. Or you're going to work while your kids nap, or after they go to bed.
You need to determine what you non-negotiables are. For me, that is Erik's and my reading time in the middle of the day. It is very, very rare that I miss that time with him. I love reading books with him. I love sitting down and having that cuddle time in the middle of the day just to kind of reconnect, especially cause I've usually been working all morning.
So think about what your non negotiables are in your schedule and then schedule everything else around that. And please, give yourself some grace. Often you are so hard on yourself. You feel like you have to get everything done right now, absolutely perfectly. Just stop.
You have to give yourself some grace, you have to give your kids some grace. You have to give the people around you some grace. Imagine if we just all gave each other some more grace the world would be a much better place right now.
It's okay if your house is a little bit messy, or even if it's a lot messy right now.
Sometimes you have to say, "No, I can't. I can't develop this new thing right now."
You think a lot about what you expect from yourself. And sometimes it's just completely unrealistic what you think you should be doing. So please give yourself some grace.
How Do You Survive Working From Home?
- Make sure that you have a workstation set up and it's helpful if it's moveable, so that way you can be where your kids are.
- Divvy up your childcare.
- Make sure that you have a routine. Sometimes just let your kids play on their own. It's okay.
- Work in short bursts.
- Make sure that you get breaks during the day, and that your kids get breaks during the day to burn off that physical energy.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure that you tell your clients and your customers how they can get a hold of you, and what the expectations are for them to hear back from you.
- Work when it makes the most sense for you, whether that's early in the morning, while your kids are napping, or late at night.
- Figure out what your non-negotiables are in your schedule.
- And please, please, please give yourself some grace.
You are going to get through this. And you're going to get through this stronger. But stressing yourself out, stressing your kids out, creating fights and arguments, that's not going to help any of this.
So find a way to create a little bit more harmony in your life, a little bit more peace for your kids, and it's all going to go much better.