We get a lot of inspiration from the 30 Days or Less Facebook Communities. There’s a constant flurry of questions and answers in the groups, and we’re really proud of the camaraderie.
The question in today’s roundup comes up a lot in both groups, so we’ve decided to tackle it with the help of a few hardworking freelancers.
We’ve asked them for tips on balancing parenting and freelancing, while also being productive and keeping ahead of the feeling of overwhelmed exhaustion.
They all delivered concrete tips, and somewhere in there there’s a grizzly mama bear.
Read on for tips on getting work done when the kids are at home.
1.Make Your Kids Feel Included – Lisa Tanner, Lisa Tanner Writing
Kids are way more helpful than most people give them credit for. Get them onboard with your why and start working as a family towards a common goal.
Let them take pictures, edit pictures, proofread, upload to WordPress, etc. You’ll be teaching them skills that will be helpful in their future and once they are proficient, they’ll be able to take items off your plate.
Another strategy that has helped me so much is implementing family writing time. We have half an hour of family writing time a day. Everyone works quietly on an age-appropriate task. Then we clean up and share. It gives me time to write my own posts without feeling guilty for taking time away from the kids when I’m not working on client stuff.
2. Make Sure Everything Is Ready to Go When You Are – Susan Finch, Mothers Who Launch
I’ve been freelancing for 15 years and have a 20-month old and a 5-year old. I only work when my daughter is at preschool, and my son is napping and at night.
Every night, I chart my goals and daily tasks for the next day. I wouldn’t make it without this type of ongoing, determined focus. In order to be more productive, I make sure my laptop is charged, my work space is cleared and the busy work checked off. This way, I can sit down and start working at any spare moment. My husband also works from home, and I get out of the house when my son is napping to increase my focus and productivity.
I’m also a maximizer. We allow for some screen time each day, and I use it to get stuff done, not to relax and goof off. I also answer emails when taking my son to story time at the library, and often trade play dates with friends so I can get more work done.
Life is chaotic, but I get to own my schedule and spend as much time with my kids as I want. We travel (and went to Mexico for a month last summer!); I pursue projects I’m passionate about and scale up when we need more money. It’s never easy, but it’s always meaningful and rewarding, and that keeps me going.
3. Help Your Kids Get Creative Too – Erin Sturm, Freelancing Mama
When I need to work while taking care of my toddler, I get her set up with watercolor paints, ink and stamps, or Playdoh at her desk.
She’ll create some artwork while I’m working.
I typically only do this in a pinch and structure my day so that I do the bulk of my work when she is sleeping.
4. Be the First One to Get Up – Laura Falin, Peace But Not Quiet
The one thing that made me more productive than anything was getting up at 5 AM.
In the beginning, I was staying up late at night to get things done. But I noticed that if I get up early, I’m actually more productive because I have a definite end time.
I don’t have time to get caught up in Facebook, email, or other such internet rabbit trails when I have exactly an hour and 45 minutes to work. I spread the rest of the work throughout the day, during the morning when everyone is at school, or during homework time. But the 5 AM wake-up was really the key.
5. Use a Visual Symbol for Busy – Elizabeth Kaupisch (Writer)
Freelancing with kids is HARD! I have a pretty good handle on the days they go to school, but the impending summer vacation has me scared!
So … my one tip?
Have a visual sign or symbol that means LEAVE ME ALONE! Make sure everyone understands its meaning, including adult interrupters, and use it only when you really need it.
Mine is the mama grizzly bear pictured here. When she is standing by my computer it means that I am in the middle of something that requires my full attention!
6. Invest in a Gym Membership with a Child Care Option – Megan Larson (Writer)
Confession: I don’t always use my gym membership for working out. A gym that provides a childcare option is great way for the kids to be safely entertained for a few hours a day so that you can get some work done.
I pay $70 per month for a gym membership, and it comes with two hours of childcare, seven days a week. I don’t use it every day, but it’s there when I need it. It gives me peace of mind, and time to concentrate. If you do the math, it’s well worth it. Especially when you think of it as an investment in your business.
If you use the gym option, make sure it has a good wifi connection before signing up.
I generally try to do what I can when I can. Sometimes this means working away into the night after the kids go to bed, or sometimes it means stealing time during the day, even if it’s in small chunks. Maybe you brainstorm social media posts while giving baths, or turn the TV on for an hour to entertain your 2-year-old while your baby naps.
How about you? Are there any particular strategies that help you balance work and parenting? Share them in the comments, and other freelancing parents will surely appreciate it.