Are your kids driving you crazy? If you don’t have a productivity plan as a stay-at-home freelancer, getting work done can be hard.
It’s something I know a lot about.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have eight kids. I home-school. And I have a thriving freelance writing business.
It’s kind of crazy. And I struggled to figure out how to make it work.
When you’re trying to land client work or complete an assignment, with kids begging for your attention, you might think the last thing you want to spend time on is a productivity plan.
But you actually need that in place first.
Why? Let’s just say kids make the work-at-home experience more interesting.
I get more work done now in less time than I used to. And then there’s the added benefit of maintaining my sanity with such a busy household.
Want to know how I do it? Here’s my productivity plan for freelance writers with kids:
Maybe you’re not a home-schooler like me. But if you’ve got kids at home, balancing family life and getting your freelance work done can be challenging.
While you’re trying to rock your business, you’ve also got to care for, feed, and monitor the whereabouts of everyone in your care. Otherwise you might end up with flour mountains on the kitchen floor, or dolls swimming in the toilet. Ew! (And yes, that really happened.)
As a large-family freelancer, I use the following strategies to juggle diapers and deadlines:
Share your vision with your family
Why did you start freelancing?
Whatever the reason, you’ve got to know it. Having a vision is essential to propel you forward when the juggling act threatens to knock you out. But, don’t keep your vision to yourself.
Sharing your goals with your family helps get them on board. Of course, your babies and toddlers aren’t going to care why you’re working, but by the time they’re a bit older they will.
- Get your family involved. For example, create a giant paper thermometer. When you land a new client, or publish a new post, let your kids color a section. Celebrate when you reach the top, and start again.
Start with attention
If I try to work while my kids are eager to talk and cuddle after a night of sleep, everyone winds up miserable. So now I stop working as they rise, and focus on them for a while.
By the time we’ve talked, played, and giggled a bit in the morning, they’re ready to play. I can get back to work with fewer interruptions.
- Spend time with your kids. Being a freelancer and a stay-at-home mom is a sweet gig. Be present when it’s time to take care of your kids and spend time with them (instead of being that distant parent that’s always at the office).
Plan each day
A plan of the day works better for us than a strict schedule. After breakfast, we discuss what we need and want to do.
We form a plan based on our conversation. Rarely do two days look the same, but since everyone knows what to expect and has a voice, our productivity has soared.
- Schedule it. Figure out a scheduled that works for you and your family. Make time for freelance writing and schedule it just like you would a doctor’s appointment, dance recital, or school event. Then stick to the schedule, but be flexible if you need to make adjustments.
Is your brain overloaded with questions like these?
- What’s for dinner?
- Who has to unload the dishwasher today?
- Who’s going to do the laundry and take out the trash?
- Who’s taking the kids to dance, football, band (fill in the blank)?
Questions like these can steal your focus and make it hard to switch from parenting to freelancing, and back again. I decided to preempt as many of these questions as possible by making a master calendar every July, which includes:
- Meal plan
- Chore chart
- Special helper chart
That might sound kind of crazy if you’re used to living day by day without a plan. But after a month of this, everyone learned the new plan. I’m no longer making last-minute decisions and have more time for marketing and writing. Think of areas you can streamline, and go for it.
Set realistic expectations
When you make time to freelance, you’re simultaneously taking time away from another activity. You will no longer have as much time to cook everything from scratch, dust the ceiling fans, or iron.
At least those are areas where I’ve cut back. You might make different choices. Proactively decide, and lower your expectations accordingly. Kid-clean can be the new standard.
- Prioritize. What household tasks can you get your kids to do, or pay someone else to take care of? Can you prep meals in advance or use a meal-delivery service? The less you have to do around the house, the more time you’ll have for freelancing.
Implement family writing time
Each weekday, the kids and I spend 30 minutes working quietly. When the time’s up, we share our accomplishments. It’s a great way to help your kids develop their writing and language skills. But it’s also a covert way of getting 30 minutes of quiet time.
- Writing time for little kids: If your kids aren’t old enough to write in a journal or notebook, give them some paper, markers, or crayons to color during those 30 minutes.
Make freelancing a family affair
Kids and parents used to work side-by-side on the farm or in the family business. It’s not as common today, but it’s still possible, even for freelance writers.
Think of ways your kids can help you, and teach them. For instance, my older kids help me:
- Take photos
- Check social media feeds
- Upload posts to WordPress
- Record videos
Use think time
My time at the computer is limited, so I need to make the most of it. Each morning, I review the topics I need to write about. Then, my brain starts working as I’m doing chores. When it’s time to type, I’m ready. I’ve already processed the information and have a plan.
- Plan, review, reflect. Doing this every morning helped me become a lot more productive, less stressed, happier, and able to get more writing done.
Create your own productivity plan
I’m not gonna lie. Being a stay-at-home mom with eight kids, home-schooler, and freelance writer can get a little crazy. But I’ve figured out a way to make it work to move up and earn more. And so can you.
How do you balance family, freelancing, and kids? Share your productivity tips on Facebook.
A freelancing, homeschooling mama to eight, Lisa Tanner knows how to balance diapers and deadlines. She shares her best tips and tricks for getting it all done at lisatannerwriting.com.