Working at home with children

I work from home and love it - the flexibility, my self-determination, the permaculture focus of my work, the ecovillage location surrounded by gardens and nature. Doing this with three young children does have it's challenges though. One goes to school, one is an active 2 year old and the eldest is homeschooled.

To make this situation a success, I realised I needed to redesign my work so that I have concentrated bursts of work, and that they can come along most of the time. If not, Evan is at home too so we tag team. A key element of the success of this approach is that I do much of the core planning and thinking (and the 'grunt' work) at night after everyone has gone to bed. This way I am free to be present with them of most of the days.

I realised a long time ago that to write, to think deeply and develop plans I needed more than a few interrupted moments here and there - I needed good solid hours to really get into the flow.  I carve out this time from late night hours when everyone else is asleep. In the quiet of the evening the schedules evaporate and the hours seem to extend enlessly into the night.  There I find a sense of freedom and ease where I feel I can keep working on ideas for as long as I need. Most nights of the week, I find my focus here.

Recently a friend suggested to me that it was bad for my health to constantly stay up late. She recommended that instead of going to bed at 2am, that I get to bed before 10pm and then wake up at 2 or 3am to work. I tried, but within a week I was a mess and way behind in my work.

To me, the morning hours seemed limited, adding an element of stress into my moments of peace. And my two year old son heard me get up and kept calling for me, and even got up to play with me a few times. You can imagine how productive those mornings were! The frustration trickled into my day and my interactions with everyone in the family - not healthy. So after a weeklong failed experiment, I returned to my usual pattern - feeling completely jetlagged from turning my day upside down.

I've just recovered and now and I'm back in my routine of late night focus - and feeling fantastic, energetic, creative and satisfied. I can manage these four hours of quality time in the evening by taking a nap with the kids when they are going to bed. I read and snooze with them for an hour or two then get up, have a cuppa and stretch a bit. By 10pm, I am refreshed and ready to go again.

Using these night-time hours enables me to be more focussed on my children’s needs during the day, and give me the focus and time to run a small business and small charity, and write. With a good diet, clean environment, low stress and positive attitude it’s a balance that I have found works for me.

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