Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finding Time to Work from Home

by Naomi Rawlings

The baby is asleep, the older children happily playing. You sit down at the computer or sewing machine or office desk to sneak in a few moments of work--you know, the kind of work you get paid for. The kind that doesn't include dishes or laundry or cleaning. Within five minutes, chaos breaks loose.

It happens to every mom that works at home. Let's look at a few ways to sneak some time.

Try getting up early. You probably take advantage of nap time and bed time. Have you considered finding some early morning time? After my youngest was born, I found myself too tired to get anything done at night. I now get up at 5:30am to write. Does it sound crazy? Please know that I started at 6:30 and worked my way back an hour. The early morning time works great for me. I get a start on my day and am often halfway through my writing goal by the time the kids wake. Be warned though, 5:30am is not for everyone.

Hire a babysitter, or use a daycare once a week. Yes, the point of working at home is that you are home--meaning available for your children. However, you might both benefit from a break once a week. Do some figuring. Is the amount of work you'd get done in three hours worth the cost of childcare?

Have your husband babysit. My husband and I have a tentative arrangement. Once a week, he takes the kids for a few hours while I pack up the laptop and go somewhere to write. The arrangement isn't engraved in stone, but most weeks it works out. It also gives daddy some time to focus on the kids.

Arrange play dates. Have you tried coordinating play dates? See if you can set up a time where your kids go play once a week and a corresponding time when you host the play date. Parents of both families benefit from some alone time, and the children benefit from the social interaction. Getting on a weekly or biweekly schedule can work well. It seems as though my four-year-old wants a friend over twice a week, so I keep that in mind and try to arrange for my eldest to be gone during my baby's nap time.

Good old TV. I occasionally rent a dollar movie. I don't use this every day or even every week. But if I need to get work done and I have both kids, I shove a dollar movie into the DVD player while I put my baby down for nap. Try not to overuse TV. Your child probably watches some TV every day. If TV is always a babysitter, your child may become so used to it that it looses it's appeal. Renting a movie can give TV time a special feel and keep your child glued to the screen.


  1. Or option 2 for your first suggestion - Stay up Late. I put everyone to bed and then as the house sleeps I work for several hours.(about 9pm/10pm-12am/1am) As you said, not for everyone, but I have always found myself more creative and productive at night, so why not harness that? Then I take a nap with the baby while the older one joins us or plays quietly in her room the next day if I need a nap.

  2. Great ideas, Naomi. I like the idea about arranging play dates! I'm like MJ. I end up writing into the night as opposed to the morning. And of course nap times are wonderful.


  3. Great ideas.
    I do my best with everything together. My office... is in my kitchen. Really my second office, the real one is upstairs. But a desk, chair, laptop, calendar, stacks of paper, bowl of pens and zip drives... in my kitchen. I do dishes, cook, feed babies and refill sippy cups right there! :)