I am a freelance writer with four kids. My kids are also homeschooled. Yes, homeschooled, meaning that they are at home with me when I am trying to write. I won’t kid you; sometimes, it’s really hard. There are days that I want to run screaming from the house.
However, I’ve learned some specific strategies that help out. Thankfully, my days of breastfeeding and typing with one hand are over. Although my house is usually chaotic, I do get quite a bit of work done in between cleaning up puddles of Kool-Aid and pulling my son off of the top of the refrigerator. Here are some of the ways I have managed the insanity of working at home while my kids are here too.
First, when you work from home and your kids are there too, you just have to accept that you are not going to be able to get as much done as you would if the munchkins were not around. Each family has to find the right balance for them. You may need part-time day care or Grandma to help out. You may need to get up early or stay up late to accomplish your goals. Nap time and “quiet time” for older kids can help you find a few minutes to work. However, it is up to you to find a workable solution to juggling the kids and work.
Structure and Timers
Most children respond well to structure. Of course, when you have an infant, you are often simply surviving, but as kids get older, having a dependable routine is invaluable to carving out time for your work. Use a timer so that your child knows exactly when you will stop for breaks. When your child understands that Mommy will be writing for an hour and no longer, he will be much less likely to interrupt.
Put the Kids First
Parents usually think of work first and then play. However, when kids are home, you may want to reverse this. Play with the kids for an hour right before you start writing. Usually, when I have met my children’s needs for interaction first, they are less likely to bug me when I am working.
Set Up Specific Activities
Don’t just say, “Go play.” Set the kids up with an activity. Give them blocks and toy soldiers, and tell them to make a war. Help them set up a toy hospital. If they are old enough, let them cook simple recipes. Don’t worry too much about the mess, especially if you can confine it to one or two rooms. The kids can help clean it up later.
Payment- a.k.a Bribery
If you are really desperate to get some work done, you can pay your kids to “babysit” one another. Tell them that you’ll give them money to get along for a few hours. Alternately, give them a series of time-consuming chores (matching socks works here), and pay them to do them for you. Not only will you be getting writing work done, but they may be helping you knock some stuff off of your to-do list.
April F once went to church with a lollipop stuck to the back of her dress. She and her family raise all-natural Angus beef, a large garden, and she cooks from scratch. Ironically, she washes it all down with a tall glass of Coke Zero.