Running a successful business from home with small children
Today Evie and I appeared in major Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph. I was contacted for an interview about working from home with young children. Other business owners also shared their tips. You can see the image of the article below.
In addition to what was written in the article here are my tips for working from home with small children.
- Make the most of the time with the kids while they are awake. Play and spend quality time. Work in the evenings or during nap times.
The days are pretty much useless for productive work while Will is awake. He is at an age where he is into everything and does need a lot of attention. I like to have quality time with them during these times and we will play, read, go to the park or to playgroup. Night time is my time to shine. Once they are in bed and dinner is done, I might watch a bit of TV and then will log in to work at about 8.30. I then work up until midnight and hit the hay.
- For older children I recommend setting up some interactive craft, puzzle, or colouring in that they can do independently for a while, or saving their screen time with tv or ipad for when you need to make calls or focus.
Evie is 3.5 so is great at playing independently. As mentioned she will do craft, draw, build with Lego, play playdough, play on the ipad or watch TV for a while as I work if Will is asleep.
- Involve them
Evie loves helping and will often grab stickers for me, put postage stamps on the envelopes or help daddy go to the post office. My kids come along to the printers, framers and post office and I try to make it fun by involving them or letting them post the parcels into the big red letter boxes. Evie also enjoys coming to the markets. We are at Cobbitty Markets on the first Saturday of the month.
- There will also be times when the kids won’t have a bar of it. In those times I just pack away my work and give them the attention they need. It isn’t productive working with kids climbing on your lap trying to touch the computer, so I just focus on them and pick up where I left off when things have calmed down.
Over the last few years I have had plenty of frustrating moments trying to work with the kids. I remember almost losing it and bursting into tears when I was in the middle of pre-Christmas rush and super stressed. I bungled Evie in the car with a carload of orders and was trying to get to the post office before 5pm. I needed to get these sent today! At the time she was at that age where she wouldn't get in her car seat and sat as stiff as a board so I couldn't get her in the car!
Then you have the times (like right now) where you have a child sitting on your lap as you're trying to use the computer. I am very conscious of the fact that they are only little for a short time. I never want to look back and regret the times I was working and not enjoying them while they were young. So I really try and be present and give them my attention - which means a lot of what I do gets done at night.
- I make it clear to my customers that I am a work from home mum and set realistic expectations.
In the first few months following Will’s birth I made it clear on my website what expected turn around times would be. My customers new I had a newborn and a toddler and were prepared that their order may take a couple of extra days. This works fine for me because of my line of work - I deal with lots of families and mothers who are very understanding of this.
- Plan, prioritise and make to do lists
It sounds simple, but life can get busy. On Sunday nights I write out a list of what I want and need to achieve for the week for both work and home. This allows me to have a clear snapshot of the week and what tasks need to be done first.
I also plan so that I am making the best use of my time e.g if I am going to the printers I will check if I need anything while I am out like postage materials or stationery so I am not making a thousand trips and lugging the kids in and out of the car.
- Utilise technology and Love Local
I have suppliers all over Australia and use the internet to source quality items at the best price. This allows materials to be shipped directly to me and saves time. I also love supporting local suppliers and businesses. All of these suppliers have families themselves so it makes good business sense to work with them and to be spending with them rather than massive companies.
- It will be hard trying to find the balance between work and family commitments but when you have a business you are passionate about it doesn’t feel like work. You soon develop a rhythm of what works for your household.
Although no two days are ever the same, we have developed a rhythm of sorts. I wake up, get the kids breakfast and eat with them. Evie has swimming lessons one morning, and Preschool two days a week. We also go to playgroup on Friday mornings. Once breakfast is done we all get dressed. Usually my husband will run down the street for a coffee and post office run so the night before I usually pack any orders so he can do the post run.
Will (aged 1) will go to sleep three hours after he wakes up. I put him to bed and then throw on some washing and tidy up the kitchen. Evie will then usually have some screen time on the iPad or watch TV while I get started on work.
Will is down to one day sleep but usually sleeps for 2.5-3 hours during the day. I use this time and smash as much out as I can doing designs, working with customers, packing orders and sending files to the printers. If Evie is at preschool during this time it is even more productive.
All in all it is a giant balancing act but one that I have found to be very rewarding. All working parents know that balancing children with work is a challenge. We all want to be there for our kids as much as we can. Finding a business that I can do from home has allowed me to earn an income, keep my mind busy and creative juices flowing while still being at home with my children. While I am not wishing the time away, I do look forward to when they are both at school so I can put in traditional full time hours and really sink my teeth into making all my ideas a reality. However while they are little people I am going to just do the best I can, work really hard and enjoy the ride.
* As mentioned in the Daily Telegraph article, I am a finalist in the 2015 St George Banking Group AusMumpreneur Awards. I am in the Customer Service Category. Please vote for me Jessica Simpson. Vote here