Part 1, Tips for Talking to your Boss, looked at choices involved with deciding to work from home when your kids are young and how to talk to employers to try to get the opportunity. Now that you are going to be working from home you have to schedule your time to make it work and you will realize very quickly just how busy you will be.
After arranging with my employer to work from home I now had to ensure that I could do my job as well, if not better, than when I was in the office. Not an easy task when there are 3 kids in the house I have to help look after. I set up two places to work with the basement being the quiet out of the way spot I could get most of my work done without being disturbed, and in the living room where I could monitor e-mail & phone-mail while doing family duties throughout the day. I spent a lot of time on my schedule before the babies were born to come up with the best way to fit everything into my day. Looking after, and nursing an infant, let alone twins, is a full time job for the mother and I knew I would have a lot of responsibility at home. I needed to fit in a full work week, help Lisa with the twins when she needed it, and spend some real quality time with Annika away from the house so she did not feel neglected. The only way I could figure out to accomplish this was to work 7 days a week with most of my work hours being spent early in the morning when everyone was sleeping and during afternoon nap time.
My Daily Schedule:
- 5am-8am: I would get up, walk downstairs and get straight to work. This time was essential as it was usually the only distraction free time I would get in the day (too early for anyone to phone or e-mail me). It was amazing how much work I could get done in this time.
- 8am – 9am: When my 3-year old got up it was time to switch to my family responsibilities. I would prepare breakfast for the family ( I would be hungry at this point too).
- 9am – noon: This would be my time to help with the family. I assisted where I could with the twins, played with Annika, cleaned up the house, did laundry, went grocery shopping, and other chores. At least once a week (usually more often) I would take Annika out swimming or to a playground, to the local zoo, or other fun activities. When I was at home I would monitor my e-mail and voicemail to make sure no emergency was occurring at work.
- Noon to 1pm: Prepare lunch for the family.
- 1pm to 4pm: Back to work. Communication was an important aspect of my job and I received a lot of e-mails and phone calls. During the afternoon time I would spend most of the time writing e-mails and talking on the phone. Twice a week I would spend this time in the office.
- 4pm to 6pm: Play with Annika , make dinner and do some clean-up.
- 6pm to 8pm: Family time. May involve some chores, playing with the kids, helping Lisa with the twins and putting Annika to bed.
- 8pm to 10pm – If I was really behind at work I would do some catch up at this time but I usually just relaxed for a while before falling asleep.
- Overnight – During the first 6 months, before the twins slept through the night, I would get up and help Lisa where needed.
I did vary this schedule a bit on weekends, depending on how much work there was still to do, but essentially this was my routine 7 days a week. Closer to the end of the 14 months I was able to get most of my work done during the week and I started taking full days off.
Tips for Creating Your Work at Home Schedule for when the Baby, or Babies, Arrive
- Plan early: You want to be as organized before hand as possible. Create your schedule and analyze it as a family to make sure it will work for everyone.
- Be flexible: While you can plan well ahead of time, there is always going to a surprise unknown that will make you have to change the schedule.
- Be realistic: As you can see my schedule was busy and I had very little time for entertainment or exercise. If you cannot come up with a schedule you feel you can live with than you have to make alternate arrangements. If I felt that the schedule was too demanding, and it was pretty close to my limit, I would have either taken leave from work or asked for more help from family then we did.
- Enjoy it: Even though this was the busiest time of my life, being involved with our children’s upbringing was great, and this experience was a catalyst for recent actions we have taken to change our lifestyle completely.
- Take time off: Take off as much time as you can when the baby is born. This is a very special time and you will want to make sure you get to enjoy it. You can then try to ease into your new sleeping pattern and what your work schedule will be. You will get burnt out so make sure that you take your holidays if just to get away from work for at least a week.
- Get help: We had arranged for Lisa’s parents to stay for a couple of weeks after the twins were born. We soon discovered that we still needed help after the two weeks were up, especially to entertain our 3-year old while we tended to the twins, and we soon arranged for my parents and Lisa’s parents to trade off staying with us for the first 3 months. After 3 months we were finally able to look after all 3 kids ourselves as I worked.
- Don’t worry about the little things – Your house will not be as clean as you like it and you may have to get comfortable with the local take-out cuisine more than you would like, but don’t worry you will get some of your life back in time. Make sure you get your work done, you are getting at least the bare minimum of sleep so you are not getting sick, and most importantly, you enjoy your time with your kids.
Part 3 in this series will look at the advantages and disadvantages of working from home to help out with the kids.