Productivity tips for work-at-home parents

Sorry, my child ate my checkbook

I made the decision to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM) about a year before I actually became a mom. I had visions of playing together in the mornings and working hard while my future kids napped or entertained themselves in the afternoon.

Reality has proven to be a bit different.

bev-shoesA typical day for me means waking up between five and six to work before my toddler and husband get up around seven, running around with my daughter in the morning to various activities, and fighting to keep her awake on the way home so that she actually naps (my prime work time).

Then I cram in as much work as I can during her nap (which ends up being two hours if I’m lucky and up to three on a very rare and magical day), hang out with her in the afternoon, get dinner ready, and crash on the couch after she goes to bed.

The days are long and busy, but they’re also full and satisfying.

 

I might not have nearly as many hours to work as I did before having my daughter, but yet I have also grown my business immensely in the nearly two years I have been a mom. In that time I have:

  • landed a number of freelance writing gigs.
  • added several new lines to my handmade jewelry.
  • had my jewelry featured in a couple magazines.
  • participated in numerous art shows.
  • traveled for blogging conferences.
  • wrote an e-book.

Not too bad for a WAHM.

While simultaneously working and being the primary caregiver might seem unrealistic, you’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a limited workweek. Here are some of my top productivity tips for work-at-home parents.

Prioritize

With limited time, it’s important to figure out what tasks are the most important. Each week make a to-do list and then split your to-do’s into different days of the week, ranking them in order of importance of what needs to get done first. Is it reaching out to potential clients? Building a website? Growing your social media presence?

Make a plan and stick to it.

There are things that won’t get done and perhaps will forever live on your to-do list, but if they are essential, you’ll find the time for them.

Invest your time and money wisely

In addition to prioritizing your to-do’s, sometimes you have spend money (and your time) on things that will help your business to flourish, whether it be an online course or joining your local chamber of commerce. This year, for example, I took two e-courses that have already proven to grow my business.

Work when you work best

If you are a morning person like me, consider getting up before your kids do. Make yourself a pot of coffee and crank out the work while everyone is still sleeping. Or if you are a nightowl, work after the kids are in bed for the night.

It’s pretty incredible how much you can get done in an hour or two of uninterrupted time — especially when you know how precious that time is.

 

One caveat: try to avoid sacrificing sleep in order to get things done. Then, everyone suffers.

Consider getting childcare

While I am the primary caregiver, my daughter is in childcare one day a week so I can have one entire day to really focus on my work. If this is not financially feasible, consider doing a childcare swap with another parent. I do this a couple times a month with another mom. I get an additional free three hours to work and then I watch her son with my daughter on a different day. As a bonus, your kids get someone to hang out with.

Schedule in time for self-care

This might seem counter-intuitive, but you’d be amazed at how much more productive you are when you’ve given yourself a chance to take a break. I cut back significantly on blogging this summer — from three post a week to one — so I could relax and enjoy going on mini-adventures with my daughter. I didn’t stress about writing at all in July, yet that was my blog’s highest traffic month.

Save the chores for when the kids are around

Treat your work time like you would if you worked outside of your home. You wouldn’t go grocery shopping in the middle of the work day or go home to do your dishes. Whatever time of day you have set aside to work — whether it’s while your child naps or is in school — focus on work. You can always have your kids help you with laundry or meal prep. I’ll admit, there are often dishes piled up in the sink at the end of the day and laundry might not get put away for an extra day or two, but somehow it all gets done.

What tips do you have as a work-at-home parent?

Image by: angermann via Compfight cc

Bev Feldman
Bev Feldman is a Boston-area creative business owner and writer. She blogs about juggling life as a stay-at-home mom with her work on her website, Linkouture. She has a passion for creative living and inspiring other moms to infuse it into their daily lives. Connect with Bev on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.