When I made the choice to work from home I was pregnant with our second child and our first was already 6. She had been an absolute dream so far and I really thought it would be the same having two. Having worked full time after the first, I didn’t want to miss out again and it also didn’t make financial sense to pay someone else to mind them.
Four years in and I am here to tell you…I was wrong, so wrong. Our second is nothing like the first!! Yes shes fantastic and we love her to bits but she is hard work!! Also, having two is three times as hard as one. (Yes, I had to re-read that line a few times too!!) The age gap is awkward as they have different interests and different friends, the personalities are polar opposite which require two completely different parenting methods, and of course the sibling bickering. As an only child I had this notion that sisters would spend their days braiding each others hair and skipping hand in hand around the garden…again, so wrong!!
But I committed to being a work from home mother and that is what I will remain for the foreseeable future. I love watching our kids grow up and I love being at home when they need me, most of the time anyway! These are just a few hints I have picked up along the way which have helped to make it easier for all of us.
1. Don’t have unrealistic expectations
Actually don’t have any expectations at all!! Before the youngest started pre-school every day would be different. Some days I could work for two hours straight and others I didn’t get more than five minutes all day. Yes, we have orders to complete and deadlines to meet but getting stressed over strict routines will only lead to mistakes, and grey hairs! Aim to get a certain number of hours in a day but accept that they may not be the same hours every day.
2. Put the children first
When I get up in the morning the first thing I’m thinking about is what work I want to get done today, make new products, take new photos, complete an order. And I can’t wait to get stuck in. But if I go straight to work I’m soon interrupted by ‘Mmoooooomm’! Instead, I find that spending half an hour with the kids first will guarantee me an hour, or sometimes two, of uninterrupted work time. Then I take a break and play for another half an hour, and so on throughout the day, maybe not in exact time increments but you get the general idea!!
3. Use a kitchen timer
If you really do need to get something done, and you know how long it will take, try using an timer. Young children don’t have a great concept of time so a visual aid helps them to know how much longer they have to wait. Just make sure you really do finish up when the timer goes or they will soon grow tired of the idea.
4. Set them a challenge
Our youngest loves a good challenge, tell her its too hard for her and of course she will aim to prove you wrong! One of our favourites is hunting down objects around the house. I give her a camera, on the phone or a small handheld camera, and ask her to find all the square objects/green objects/flat objects/things that make noise etc etc. Another is how many insects you can find in the garden. Or draw an entire town on the pavement with chalk.
5. Keep the baby monitor
If like me, you have a separate workspace, you need to still be able to know what your kids are up to while you’re working. I have a workshop in the back garden so the kids have the run of the house while I’m working. Having the baby monitor set up means I can hear the doorbell, I know if there has been an argument (although I do have selective hearing when it comes to sibling squabbles!) and of course I know if there has been any bumps or scrapes. In my experience so long as there is some sound, be it amicable or otherwise, everything is fine. If it all goes quiet, then its time to call a decorator and pour yourself a large glass of wine!!
I hope this was useful to you and if you have any other tips please do drop them in a comment below!
Thanks for reading x