My son Noah has changed my life significantly. I think most parents would agree that life after kid(s) is simply different, and it can bring perspective to what is really important.
I’m not going to dive into how great being a father can be (and it is), but instead I want to talk about the impact it can have on your work, and what changes you can make to stay productive and keep your sanity.
My wife and I are not the traditional family. We both work for ourselves in our own self-made businesses. We don’t work traditional hours; we don’t have deadlines imposed by others, and no one but ourselves to keep us on track. It a very liberating lifestyle, but it is not without some pitfalls.
In this post, I want to talk about how we have managed to stay productive and thrived, despite working from home with a 16 month old son – without the help of a babysitter.
1. Schedule your time
I hear this tip a lot from other entrepreneurs, but I personally had a difficult time creating work schedules for myself and sticking to them before I had my son. Before kids, time never seemed as much of a finite resource as it does now. In many ways it’s become a beneficial experience to have less free time, because it helps you to concentrate on what really matters.
What has worked very well for my wife and me is to schedule our exclusive working time, and by that I mean when we each have complete and total freedom to work with no responsibility while the other takes care of our son. In our current schedule, my working days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday up until 1pm, while hers are Tuesday and Thursday until 1pm.
Monday: Lee takes care of Noah until 1pm, while I get to work. After 1pm, we share responsibility and who ever has anything pertinent to finish or has a meetings can take care of it.
Tuesday: Dylan takes care of Noah until 1pm, while Lee gets to work. After 1pm, we share responsibility…..etc.
We found it was really beneficial to just schedule the beginning of our days, because that is when we both are able to get what is really important done, while leaving the afternoons open for meetings and some spontaneity.
One of the big benefits of this is that it builds in time that each of us have to take off. With each of us taking off 2-3 mornings a week, it may seem like a lot, but this is when we’re able to get in a lot of the creative thinking that is necessary for both of our businesses. If we didn’t have this time, we may not be giving ourselves enough of this time.
Another benefit of the time off is that when it is our scheduled time to work, we’ve become very efficient at getting done what needs to get done, which leads me to my next point.
2. Work on What is Really Important
As an entrepreneur or business owner, there are an infinite number of things that could be done to improve your business. Finding the most beneficial projects to work on and having the discipline to stick to them is what is really important. Working from home with a child really brings into perspective not only what the important projects are, but which tasks aren’t getting you nearer to your goals and really aren’t necessary.
Having limited time can really force you to look at what you’re doing and critically think about what is truly important.
3. Naps are Amazing
I’m not talking about us sleeping, but our son. Each morning I’m on duty for Noah, we go out for a morning hike/play session, and come back for his 10am nap. Even though it’s my morning to be responsible for him, once he lays down for his 2-3 hour nap, it’s go time. I’ve just had 2-3 hours of creative thinking while I got to hang out with him, followed by a quick 2-3 hour work session during his nap. I find these sessions to be especially productive.
4. Evenings Can Be Golden
A proper balance of your work and home life are very important, but when Noah has been especially cranky, he took a short nap, or I’m feeling inspired, I find myself cracking open my laptop in the evenings.
Because our son goes to bed at 6:30pm, we end up stuck at home most nights. You’ll find us hanging out on the couch casually working on our laptops while a movie neither of us is paying attention to is playing in the background. It’s not a particularly intense work session, but it allows us catch up on anything necessary.
Do you work at home with your kids? I’d be interested to hear what works for you in the comments below.