While working from home can seem like the ultimate dream, trying to juggle working and parenting with kids and no child care can be a challenge. As Julie Nowell, regional owner of Momcafé and co-owner of Starfishkidz.com says, getting everything done isn’t always easy: “Laundry, dishes, groceries are all put off until we are starving and naked!”
Here, three women share their highs, lows, and tricks to making it all work–plus some things to think about if you’re considering working from home yourself.
Sleep when your baby sleeps (yeah, right)
Nap time equals work-time when you don’t have child care.
“I do the bulk of my writing during naps and after the kids go to bed,” says Jen Hughes, Ottawa editor of Sweetspot.ca, “which means I’m usually up very late every night.”
And when you have to squeeze your work into small amounts of time, Jen Arbo, operations manager for Royal City Farmers’ Market and a social media consultant, says to ensure the time you do spend working is generating income and not unnecessarily taking you away from your children.
“Avoid doing work for free, and know when to say no,” she says.
One-week maternity leave… maybe
Most working-at-home moms don’t have maternity leave pay when they have their second child, maybe even their first. “Since I’m self-employed, there is no such thing as maternity leave, says Hughes. ” So with my second and third child, I was back to work within days of their births.”
One way to keep the money flowing after the baby comes? Establish an ongoing project or contract before your child is born. This allows you to avoid looking for new work or clients, and provides a consistent income with a manageable workload even during those first sleepless days, weeks, and months.
Meetings – don’t you mean play dates?
Meetings can be difficult when you arrive with a diaper bag, stroller and toys and are expected to finish coherent sentences. “It’s hard to devote my mind and attention to the people I meet with a toddler destroying the place,” says Nowell.
To avoid this, arrange to have your children be with a friend once a week or more, then watch their children for an equal amount of time. You get child-free time for meetings, your friend has a break, and your children spend time with friends. And it’s free!
Don’t you dare get sick, I have a deadline!
It’s pretty hard to reason with a toddler or a baby feels miserable and just wants to sit with you all day.
“When someone is sick, my schedule gets pretty much blown for the day and I have to put it all off until late night,” says Hughes.
While having sick kids often just means lots of coffee and late nights trying to get things done while the kids sleep, you might be able to squeeze in some time during the day.
Try to have low-key activities available to entertain your little ones. Books and colouring are great, and it might be a good time to just let them snuggle up on the couch with a favourite movie while you send off some emails and make a few phone calls.
Kristy Hill, of TwellMedia, is a freelance writer and graphic designer working out of her home office in the Lower Mainland, with a happy, enthusiastic little boy by her side.