– Have a plan! Decide the day before or 1st thing that morning when during that day you’re going to work, when you’re going to play with the kids & when you’re going to do other things–cooking, cleaning, etc. Every (week) day I have a schedule that I try to stick to and it varies each day depending upon the workload & the kid’s schedules–I have a 5 yr old & an 18 mth old. I adjust the schedule as the day goes on if the kids wake up later, need more or less time doing an activity, etc. Always remember that YOU have control over the schedule you set, so you can be the one to change it!
– If you have flexibility with your work schedule, or if you have specific activities or times you have to plan around, that will of course play a role in creating this schedule. If you can make your own hours I recommend waking up really early before the kids get up (I’m up at 5 AM on most days). Uninterrupted work time is always best, of course, and then I feel accomplished and less stressed by the time they’re up.
– If your kids are not on a sleeping/napping schedule yet, I highly recommend it. I couldn’t be as successful juggling everything without that. Once you know your kid’s sleep schedules you can plan around them. I always try to schedule my meetings & phone appointments during nap time or early evening right after the kids have gone to bed.
– I structure my day so I’m not working more than an hour without a break, that way the kids aren’t bored or interrupting me every 5 minutes. I usually set things up in 1/2 hour or hour increments. My schedule varies whether or not my 5 yr old is home (he currently goes to school 2 days a week), if we have activities that day, etc. Your routine will obviously change with the kids as they grow.
– Keep your work stuff organized & make a decision to work in your home office or around the house, but pick the one(s) you know you can comfortably do. I have a studio, but I only work in there when I’m recording (I’m a voice-over actor), my other work I do from the kitchen table, family room couch or my bed, because that’s what works best for me. As most parents do, I try to limit their TV time so it’s not on constantly. I’ll watch the clock giving them free time with & without it. I have a couple of drawers in the kitchen that I keep organized with whatever I’m currently working on so I take it out to use it & put it away as soon as I’m done. Seeing work stuff sprawled out everywhere is unnecessary stress 😉
– Unless an emergency comes up, I try not to do any work stuff during kid time. This way the kids are getting my full focus and they don’t feel slighted, I don’t feel stressed & it helps my 5 yr old to separate my work time, from our together time, his structured play time (when I set him up with something to do) vs his free play time. With our 5 yr old, we made the choice to have him home 3 days a week not just to save $ (although that doesn’t hurt!) but because I wanted to be the one educating him as much as possible before kindergarten. He knows that during the week days he’s at home he’s getting “school at home” or home schooling 🙂
– I recommend making sure that the area the children are playing in (especially while you’re working) is free of anything other than a few toys. Too many things at once and your child can get overstimulated and just end up coming to you & interrupting your work!
– I have video monitors in their bedrooms & playroom so that I can let them have free play & I can be in another room quietly getting work done and still have an eye on them.
For the first two years of our older son’s life, my husband, our son & I traveled all over the country for my job. The baby didn’t have any schedule or much of a routine. He ate & slept when he wanted and it was wonderful–it worked for us! Then when we settled down and I had to juggle watching him while working, we needed more structure. As a parent you know that there isn’t a right or wrong way. It’s whatever way works best for you and your family! If you have total flexibility and you don’t want to put your child on such a rigid schedule, go for it! Children will adapt and thrive with whatever you establish. The most important thing is that you’re happy, they’re happy and you’re doing everything you need and want to each day (or trying to!) 😉