How to Watch Your Kids and Work at the Same Time
Hi everyone, Jason Malinak of Etsy-preneurship here! I’m writing this guest blog post for Handmadeology while I’m watching my 4 year old daughter for the day.
Usually, I’m able to focus on my business of helping other Etsy sellers by using significant blocks of work time – by myself – 1 to 4 hours at a time. Today, this isn’t happening, because of a fun event at my son’s school that my wife is attending.
I know many of you watch your kids, school them, run errands, and many other things ALL while running your business with excellence. I’m impressed! It is hard work. You should be writing this article … not me!
Obviously (like every parent), I’ve done this many times before, but today, I wanted to intentionally try out some various techniques and add some of my commentary to them. . . all while trying to write a blog article about it.
Here are some the techniques I’m using to keep my business productivity up! This is what I’ve done today in the order that I’ve done it (more or less)
I woke up early
Before my kids woke up, I had about 2.5 hours of time where I did my daily administrative tasks. I did the core tasks to keep my business running at the lowest level during this time. Answering emails, Etsy convos, lots of administrative tasks, messages, and maintaining social media at a basic level.
This just kept my business operating for the day. Mission accomplished. We all have these types of tasks. I made sure they were done early - in case any surprises came up during the day.
Clean Up the House Time
We went room by room and picked up our clothes, made the beds, put away toys, and did the dishes together. She did half the work. A clean house helps increase my productivity levels.
Jump Rope Exercise Game & 30 Minute Timer
My parents just gave my kids 2 jump ropes yesterday as a gift. We have a long hallway that doesn’t have any breakables in it. I let my daughter put on music and jump rope up and down the hallway while I critiqued an Etsy shop this morning for Thrive Members. She got tired of that and put on her ballet slippers to dance during that time. Again – I told her when the timer went off we would then have snack time.
We ate snack together at the kitchen counter.
Play Doh Time for a Facebook Post
She played play-doh while I posted an update on Facebook. I just had to copy and paste some text, do an image blur, and post. Here is the FB post created during Play-doh Time:
Board Games & 10 Minute Timer
My daughter loves board games . . . . Just setting the pieces up and moving them around by themselves. My daughter sits in my office while I work. The timer goes off and she gets to pick a new board game. We did this for about 1 hour. I started writing this article and do various social media tasks like taking this picture for this blog article:
1 Hour Video Time
We try to limit how much media our kids watch in a day. Netflix Angelina Ballerina is on the laptop for the remainder of this blog article. (I’ll now take on the graphics for this blog post, write a little more, and edit it . . . . I’ll try to finish this whole article by the time the hour is up. . .)
I’ll be right back – I’m off to start the video!
Ok – She’s watching the video right now…
I went back and made some corrections to what I wrote above – knowing that I’m not going for perfection. But I have about 50 more minutes of time and I know I need to do more focused work during this time. So, I’ll try sharing some thoughts about working while watching kids.
Timers = I like how timers set the expectation that a task or activity has a start and end time. If my daughter hasn’t heard the beeping sound – she knows we aren’t moving onto the next thing.
Working Together = If there are small tasks in your business that you can have you children help you perform, by all means do them together! Cleaning the house was our together activity. I also showed her this blog article as I was writing it… and she thought it was funny that her watching Angelina Ballerina was part of the blog article!
Variety of Locations = I worked in my office while she was playing board games, but I worked at the dining room table while she was jump roping and playing play-doh. We both sat at the kitchen counter while eating snack. Now she’s watching the video in “Mom and Dad’s bedroom”. She’s changing locations and so am I…keeping things fresh.
Prioritization of Business = This morning I made my to-do list with 6 tasks on them. So far, I’ve accomplished 4 of them. I did the tasks that required more of my full attention when I knew I was going to have larger blocks of time. 1 hour of board games is actually more like 3 minutes of work with a 1 minute break.
So what’s next for our day?
When the video is over, we will eat lunch together. Then, I’ll read her a book for 15 minutes. Then, it is time for quiet time.
Quiet time is something we have done with our kids almost every day. They go to their room by themselves. We put the kitchen timer on. They have to stay quiet and stay in their room. (Sometimes they are loud – sometimes they don’t stay in their rooms). They play toys. They look at books. My daughter sings really loud sometimes!
Quiet time will be 60 minutes to 90 minutes today. That is how long we normally have quiet time. During this longer period of time, I will most likely work on a task that is going to require a more of a mental effort – I’m starting to look for tips to help Etsy sellers make it into the Browse categories. This involves gathering lots of data. Since I’m in the very early stages of this task, I’ll most likely just have enough time to set up a spreadsheet that I’ll work with in the coming months.
Then, I’m going to play with my daughter outside for about 30 minutes before her brother and mom arrive home. I want to make sure we connect during this time and she has a fun memory of her “work day” with Dad.
This stay-at-home-self-employed-dad thing is new to me. I’ve got about half a year of real experience with it right now. Hopefully, I managed to keep my business afloat today, do some things for immediate wins in my business, set myself up for longer-term projects to succeed, help a few people from this blog post, and make my daughter feel special. Nothing here is perfect, but I’m giving it my best go!
Final Thoughts From Jason
I just went to check on my daughter to make sure everything was going good and gave her a hug! I better get started on the graphic and a final read-through . . . time is ticking!
Please share your tips for working in your business and spending time with your children in the comments. I’d love to hear them!
Regards, Jason Malinak of Etsy-preneurship.com
P.S. – All done! Not a masterpiece, but finished before Angelina Ballerina is over. Emailing this off to Tim of Handmadeology now and then lunchtime!