I’ve been working from home since my son was born over three years ago. While this is NOTHING compared to the length of many careers of my fellow work-from-home parents, I have learned many a trick and time-saver from my experiences thus far. I spent much of my son’s infancy dreading the inevitable day that he would stop napping — nap time was always my time as well. Did you notice that I’m speaking about naps in past tense? They still happen from time to time, but I’ve become adept at coming up with fun things to do to fill the void the lack of napping leaves so I can get work done before 9pm (instead of beginning my work day then). Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Quiet Time is good time
It took me a few months to accept that regular naps were a thing of the past, but once I did I started pushing the concept of “Quiet Time” on my son. Basically this means that for an hour each day he plays quietly while I work. I’m usually in the same room he’s in (and we live in a one bedroom apartment, so we’re always close), and he doesn’t have to be totally quiet — he just has to respect that I need time to get things sorted, check emails, and write a bit. This totally means that I’ve heard myself say, “Hold on a sec, I need to reply to this email” to him more times than I’d like, but it also means that he’s getting really good at entertaining himself for a reasonable period of time. We usually have small talk back and forth, and if he’s doing something really cool/cute or he wants to share his play time with me, he knows he’s always welcome to crash my work parade and ask me to play with him — and I always say yes.
PAINTING! Your new best friend
We’ve had kid-friendly paint around our place since he started expressing an interest in painting, and we even lived with an artist for awhile, and the two of them devoted quite a bit of time to creating their respective masterpieces (I’m using that loosely when talking about the three-year-old). I discovered that painting is an activity that my son a) loves to do, and b) occupies him for a solid thirty minutes before wanting to move on, change what he’s doing, or get up from his art table. It’s a win-win: he’s engaged in his activity but not so much that he doesn’t respond to me when I talk to him, and I can sit ten feet away and fix a post or edit part of a wedding while he’s happily creating. I’ve also had to relax about a few things (it’s ok if washable paint gets on the wall/chair/floor/child’s face), which has been good for me.
Sometimes it’s ok to watch TV… even too much of it
Full disclosure: my kid watches television shows, and as much as I’d love to say he only watches 30 minutes of Sid the Science Kid a week, it’s more like he watches 30-90 minutes of Sid the Science Kid a week… and then maybe an episode of Thomas… or perhaps a Curious George episode (or two). I try my best to avoid letting the shows “baby-sit” my kid — usually if he’s watching something my husband or I is watching it with him, but from time to time (especially on comment-heavy days or during the peak wedding season), I have definitely let my kid sit on the couch while a show is on and I’m working. It happens. I don’t (usually) mind.
How do you ensure you get a little time for work or personal interests during the day?