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Raising young children full time is exhausting work! They’re so full of energy, curiosity, and mischief. A wise woman once told me “children bring life to the home” and that’s certainly the case in my household. There’s never a dull moment with my little ones running around (and my husband and me right behind them!) Ever see one of those highlight reels of children being saved from near misses by parents with incredible reflexes? That’s basically my life.

When people find out that I’m a writer with two children under 5 at home, the first question they ask is, “How do you get everything done?” My response is always the same: A hearty laugh and a single word that sums it all up, “Carefully.” And that’s what it all comes down to for me and every other mom who works from home. So, if you’re ready to earn an income from home, but you’ve got small children to care for as well, read on for the tips and tricks that help me produce content every day while being present for family, taking care of myself, and keeping my household in decent shape.

 

 

START WITH WHY

As a mom, you have more than enough on your plate to make for a full day, every day. So if you’ve made the decision to add to that plate with full or part-time work from home, there are solid reasons behind it. Earning an income from home is not easy. You’ve got to be dedicated to making it work with your schedule and careful not to become imbalanced. Making more money sounds good until the pursuit of it begins to create more problems than it solves. Knowing exactly why it’s worth it to take this journey will sustain you during those late nights/early mornings, interruptions, sick days, pushed back deadlines, and all the other bumps in the road.

“Knowing exactly why it’s worth it to take this journey will sustain you during those late nights/early mornings, interruptions, sick days, pushed back deadlines, and all the other bumps in the road.

From Bread Baker to Bread Maker

In this free course, I’ll show you how to jumpstart your transition from stay at home mom to work at home mom. You’ll receive valuable insights and resources right in your inbox. Get started now!

ESTABLISH NON-NEGOTIABLES

Perhaps the first thing I learned after I became a mom and made friends with other mommies is to always confirm plans the day of, even if they’ve been confirmed before because you never quite know what to expect with young children. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on my way out of the door when someone has vomited, filled a recently changed diaper, spilled the contents of their sippy cup all over their clothing, or needed to be nursed again.

Life with young children can be unpredictable at times (Okay, ALL the time). If you want to be successful with your work at home venture, you have to figure out 1) when you can realistically work and 2) what you absolutely must accomplish each day. Items on your to-do list that must be done daily at a certain time are what I consider non-negotiables.

My non-negotiables are:


-spend time praying and studying Scriptures

-quality alone time with my husband

-working out

-writing 2 hours at a time

These are things that I need to get done to keep my life moving forward in a positive direction.

Attending to my spirituality nurtures my soul.

Alone time with my husband allows us to keep our marriage strong.

Working out not only improves my physical health, it helps my mind to sort out all the ideas I’ve got rolling around in it regarding how to better manage my business.

Committing to writing for a minimum of two hours a day is enough time for me to grow a bank of content that I can publish at a later date.

There are other important things that I do daily such as cleaning my home, marketing my business, meeting up with friends, spending quality time with my children, and eating dinner with my family, but I don’t consider these things non-negotiable parts of my schedule because I can be flexible about when I fit them into my day.

My non-negotiables are things I need or prefer to do alone. When I revamped my schedule to make room for my business ventures, I realized I would have to get up hours earlier than my children in order to make sure I had a large enough block of time where they would be asleep to accomplish my tasks. But things don’t always go as planned with young children, so I’ve learned to…

From Bread Baker to Bread Maker

In this free course, I’ll show you how to jumpstart your transition from stay at home mom to work at home mom. You’ll receive valuable insights and resources right in your inbox. Get started now!

Have A Plan B

The funny thing about children, which I am sure you’ve noticed, is they couldn’t care less about your schedule. Staying up a little later to work on some projects? Well, guess who wants a late night snack…every night. Waking up early to take on the day? Suddenly, Junior is up before dawn, too.

If your child’s miraculously flexible body clock is making you rethink your work at home plans, don’t despair, mama! You’re not the only one going through this and you can make it work!

How to Be Productive When Your Children Are Awake

My strategies for working when my young children are awake depend upon what time of the day they’re up, what I need to accomplish, and how old they are at the time. Here’s what is working for me now:

Keep Your Children Informed

The most important thing I have done to make working at home with young children possible is having frank conversations with my children about what I’m doing and why. They were already accustomed to seeing daddy work remotely, so explaining to them that I, too, would be doing work on my computer was an easy concept for them to grasp. My husband and I share our family goals in a way that makes sense to our kids so they understand that in order to get what we want and need out of life, we must put in the work. It’s a good example that we’re setting for them and I’m so proud of the for how they’ve responded to the changes we’ve made in our lifestyle so that I can work.

Find a way to involve your children in the vision you have for the future and how your work will get you there. Have the conversation early and often in conjunction with your spouse. It’s important for your children to know this is a family affair. Take time to reassure your kids and to answer any questions. Stay positive about it and your attitude will rub off on them.

When They Wake During My Non-Negotiable Session

I get up at 4 a.m. nearly every day to take care of my non-negotiables during a 4 hour block of time. Illness and holidays can prevent me from sticking to this schedule, but I always make sure to get back on track because I’ve found that working early in the morning is when I am almost always guaranteed to have child-free time. When one of my babies does decide to wake up earlier than usual, I don’t fight it. I stop what I am doing, give them a cuddle, make a snack, then I set them up next to me at my desk.


Children love to do what mommy and daddy do, so naturally, my children want to type or write when they see me doing the same. I bought my 2 year old this cute toy laptop by LeapFrog so he could work next to me. I love that he could check his emails, learn the alphabet, and learn some songs. The volume is adjustable, so he was able to use it without disturbing the rest of the household or me too much, until he learned how to turn it all the way up.

When the toy laptop needed to be switched out for something quieter, I decided to let my children use my Fire HD 8 tablet. I worried my children would tear it up since I hadn’t opted for the version with the durable kid-proof case, but my tablet is still in good condition so far. I enabled parental controls so they can’t buy things without my knowledge and they only have access to the apps I allow. I have chosen solid educational apps like Starfall, so I can trust they’re doing something safe while I’m absorbed in my work.

When I Need to Work During the Day


I don’t know anyone who is running a business on just 2 hours a day, so in addition to the dedicated time I spend before the children wake up, I manage my business at various points throughout the day. When this occurs depends on what else is going on, but I normally can squeeze in about 30 minutes of work a couple times a day before we sit down to eat dinner together.

During these mini sprints, I pick a single task I can do in a short amount of time and focus on it until it’s done. Before I start, I make sure my children have been fed, groomed, and set up with a few activity choices. I’ve had a lot of success keeping my children busy with a craft caddy that they can move themselves. I’ve filled it with papers, kid-friendly scissors, crayons, markers, stencils, stamps, washable ink, washable window markers, paint brushes, stickers, and other craft supplies so they can get busy creating.


I have a dedicated workspace. When my children see me there, they know I’m working and for the most part, they respect that. Still, they have needs. When they come to me for something, I do my best to give them eye contact and I listen to what they need. I always have time for a cuddle or a kiss. If they need to show me something, I get up and I look at it. If they need help, I get up and help them. I do set boundaries with them regarding what is worth getting me up for. Before I did that, their definition of what was important for me to see what pretty broad!

Most of the time, I make sure my children are close enough for me to see them. They are within earshot 100% of the time. Children under 5 still need close supervision. I make sure that my work doesn’t interfere with my role as parent. That comes first, always. Though I love my desk, I will take my laptop and sit with my children as they build train tracks and block towers around me. It’s a wonderful arrangement to be able to take a pause at any time and join in the fun my babies are having.

Sometimes, try as I may, I just can’t get any work done during the day. I have learned to pick my battles. On days when they can’t get enough of my attention, they get all of it. We have dance parties, we make art, we go outside to play, or we go visit a friend. Sometimes a request to sit in my lap leads to me holding a drowsy child and my work is forced to cease because I can’t stand to put them down! These are the times when I push my concerns for work out of my head and do my best to savor these precious moments with my little ones. They’re growing so fast and I can always squeeze in a little work later.

When I Need to Work At Night

Ideally, I would never need to work at night, but if we’ve had a late start due to illness, we’re recovering from a lax holiday week schedule, or my husband is out of town on a business trip, I will choose to spend some of my after dinner time crossing things off my to-do list.

After dinner, my husband will often catch up on work he brought home from the office. He and I will typically work side by side on our laptops with our children next to us so we can chat with each other. We take breaks to play short games like tic-tac-toe and uno which is a nice way to connect and laugh before bedtime.

Some nights, if I’m the only one who needs to work, my husband will chase the kids around the living room, play make-believe with them, or he’ll help them practice their music lessons. He does his best to keep them engaged and wear them out so that I can work without interruptions and they will go to bed with ease.

When my husband is out of town, it’s a different story. It’s hard to get anything done because our babies miss him so badly that they want me to camp out in their room. We also go on a lot of playdates during that time so they have something to look forward to instead of dwelling on how many days have to pass before daddy’s home again. On nights (and days) like this, I just wing it! I do what I can when I can.

What About Infants?

I know a lot of moms panic over the idea of trying to work at home with an infant, but I’m always a little envious of the mommies who have children that young. Working with a baby is no walk in the park, but in some ways, it can be easier than working when you have a toddler provided you have the right tools.

A soft structured baby carrier or a wrap is a must-have for any mom, but you especially need a baby carrier if you want to work at home. My babies lived in ergo carriers, but there are so many styles and brands on the market! I love ergo because when worn properly, I knew my babies were securely attached to my body. I could wear them in the front while nursing so that I always had my hands free to type. When I needed to prepare a simple meal, I would switch to a back carry once my children were old enough for it.



Bouncy chairs are another life saver when you need to be productive with a little one. Sitting at my desk to knock out a few thousand words was a breeze thanks to our trusty bouncy chair. I’d put my babies in the chair just inches from my feet and I’d type until they grew bored. The vibrating function and nursery rhymes often lulled my children right to sleep, so I could get as much as 90-120 minutes of focused work time with each use.

The important thing to remember when you are working with a baby is you’re not in a race. Things will take much more time with a baby, but that’s how it goes whether you’re building a business or not. Know that it won’t always be that way, so be patient and do what you can to make progress every day.

From Bread Baker to Bread Maker

In this free course, I’ll show you how to jumpstart your transition from stay at home mom to work at home mom. You’ll receive valuable insights and resources right in your inbox. Get started now!

You Can Make It Work With Young Children At Home, Too

Working at home with children age 5 and under is doable. Perform your non-negotiables while they sleep, be flexible about the rest of your to-do list, and above all else, maintain your connection to your children throughout the day. Take breaks, stay near each other, and be responsive to their needs. Before you know it, they will adapt to your new lifestyle.

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