When I was pregnant and considering working from home (somehow), I read a few books about the subject. They all recommended sending kids to daycare, hiring a nanny, or at the very least, getting them into preschool programs and then regular school. Yikes. That didn’t sound good to me at all. I was, after all, staying home in the first place so that I could be with my kids – NOT so that I could put them in daycare. And preschool? Um, no. We’re homeschoolers.
Well, over six years later, I won’t say that I don’t know why the books recommend shipping the kids off somewhere else! However, it hasn’t been necessary. Though some days (weeks, months) are better than others, we get by pretty good here. I work with the kids with me. It’s a little chaotic at times, but here’s how we do it.
- Keep a routine. If I’m not careful, I can work all day. My routine used to have me starting out the day in my office, but I discovered that it was too easy to never quit working. Now, our routine has us doing homeschooling and upstairs activities until after lunch, and working in the afternoon – hopefully to finish up by the time daddy gets home. This usually results in 3 or 4 hours of work time every day. (note: this is not to be confused with completing 3-4 hours of work every day, lol.)
- Stock the office with lots of fun stuff. One customer asked me one day if I also run a daycare. Um, no. But I do keep a large variety of toys on hand. The widely varied ages of my kids makes the toy thing kind of challenging at times, but I keep three drawers of misc. toddler-type toys, then a series of bins full of older-kid toys. I have coloring books, paper, crayons, washable markers. There’s an easel with a whiteboard and dry-erase markers (out of Genna’s reach). We have play-dough and a variety of play-dough accessories. There’s a ride-on toy and dolls. I rotate the toys often. Even just moving something to a different part of the room makes them newly interesting. I try to switch things around every week or two, and notice that when I get lax in this department, it shows, since the kids get bored a lot faster.
- Pillows, blankets, books, TV, and a computer. The TV does not come on every day. But now that I have a TV in my office, it does tend to come one once or twice a week, usually PBS kids late afternoon programming, sometimes movies on DVD. And Wally has a computer in my office, which we use as a supplement to homeschooling, or just for fun games.
- Breathe in, breathe out. Patience, patience.
- Stop whenever necessary to take a break to give the kids some attention. It’s sooo tempting to try to stave off children who want your attention, but in the long run, this is a losing strategy.
I also currently have two alone times to work – Sunday afternoon or evening, I process and pack orders from Thursday thru Sunday. And Thursday evening, I have the entire evening to work – I keep Genna with me while Wally’s at Kung Fu until 7, then Daddy takes both kids and I can work until I’m ready to come up – sometimes that’s 9:00, sometimes that’s 2:00. I like Thursday nights!