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How do I keep DD happy *and* get a full day of work done?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am an illustrator and a signed recording artist, and 2009 marked me going back between part-and full-time. It's been great, but immensely challenging. My daughter is 4 and very, very clingy (and has been since birth). We have a tiny house, so I mainly work at the kitchen table. We don't have money for childcare and I'm not even remotely interested in nanny care. My son is in a FANTASTIC alternative school where we will probably send my daughter next year for pre-K (though I will miss her a lot--but I need--and want--to work).

So I essentially have about 9-10 months left here at home with my daughter. As I write right now, it's 2 pm and I got *one* hour of work done, between 7 and 8 am until she woke up. The nature of my work is such that I can't stop and start (dried paints, interrupted trains of thought, etc.) --and the constant interruption is *killer* on my creativity, which is, of course, essential to my work.

Sooo, work-at-home moms, how do I maximize the time I have left but still get a full day of work done? Any ideas??? I love my career, but of course I love my kids more--but both need to flow together.
post #2 of 15
If child care is completely out of the question, then your next best option IMHO is when she is sleeping.

My DS is somewhat similar; the only reason I get anything done is because we're able to send him to a great daycare centre. He isn't even terribly good at being able to be distracted by movies -- he wants me to sit with him.

I think you're seeking a magic solution that does not exist. You basically have to be willing to live with one or more of the following four realities:

1) child care (mother's helper?),
2) trade sleep for work time,
3) plunk child in front of tv, or
4) accept that the re-launch of your career will go very slowly for the next 9-10 months.

Your choice.

Best of luck whatever you decide.
post #3 of 15
Quote:
I think you're seeking a magic solution that does not exist. You basically have to be willing to live with one or more of the following four realities:

1) child care (mother's helper?),
2) trade sleep for work time,
3) plunk child in front of tv, or
4) accept that the re-launch of your career will go very slowly for the next 9-10 months.
I'll agree with this. I can't imagine trying to work full-time with a small child around the whole time, especially if she's "clingy." I can relate as my DD is my shadow and there is no way I can get work done with her around. I've had to return emails and phone calls from home and it is near impossible to get a full email typed out.

Do you have any other options? Around here, "Mom's Morning Out" programs at various churches are quite popular. The hours are usually 9-12 with the cost varying between $150 and $350 a month depending on 2-5 days per week.

A mother's helper is also a good idea. Maybe a teen who could come after school for a few hours each day. GL!
post #4 of 15
Hey there - I am also in agreement with the ladies above. My neighbor runs a "child swap" with a few other families and they all take turns watching the kids on certain days/ weeks. Maybe there's something like that in your neighborhood or area? You'd have to sacrifice when it's your turn - but at least when it's not you'd get some work time and know your DD was being social and taken care of. Another bonus is, if you really don't like a certain game you can "outsource" it (lol) like this Playskool expert wrote about.
post #5 of 15
Well not to go all crazy former-WAHP on you but let's say you hired someone to watch your child and they said at the end of working out the details... "Oh and I'll be working on my other career 6 hours a day as well, and for 3 of those I can't be interrupted."

You'd laugh right?

You don't have time-bending superpowers. You might be able to work into the night and on weekends, but that will (experience talking here) result in a serious strain on your whole-family & marriage time (since it will almost all be going to work); you might feel it's worth it for 9 months. But for myself, I did and would again look for childcare.
post #6 of 15
I work at home and it's gotten really bad with my son (almost 3). He's been watching way more tv than I like. I'm trying to build my business and don't have extra money right now, but as soon as I can scrounge some up, he's going to preschool. He needs the stimulation and I need the time to work.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Really got a kick out of that "outsourcing the games you don't like" article!

Well, since it's a short term issue (until pre-K next fall), I guess I'll have to grit my teeth and bear it. Nothing is worth sacrificing family, not even a career I adore.

But do any of you have any non-screen activities you have your kids do while you work?
post #8 of 15
Well, dd will often play by herself while I work, but only in short spurts, which works fine for what I am doing (transcription). Plus, I only work for maybe an hour or two during the day while I am "in charge" of her, and that is not everyday. Mostly I work while dp is watching her or while she is sleeping. I can't imagine what would hold a child's attention for a long period of time that you wouldn't have to help with at all that would guarantee you no interrupations, kwim?

Anyway,a suggestion: Can you set up a similar activity to what you are doing right next to you so that she has her own "work area" I.e. if you are working with paint, can you set up an easel next to your work station with paints, brushes, water, rags for cleaning up, etc., so that she feels included in your work? If she feels like you guys are working together, rather than you working and her off by herself, maybe you can eke out a little more time to focus.

Also, have you tried really scheduling in "work time" as part of your daily routine, so that she knows what to expect and what your expectations of her are for that time period. So, maybe for two hours after lunch, she knows that she is welcome to play by herself or do her "work" next to you, but that that time is ALWAYS designated for your work time. Actually, I might take my own advice try this with dd
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by vespersongs View Post
Really got a kick out of that "outsourcing the games you don't like" article!

Well, since it's a short term issue (until pre-K next fall), I guess I'll have to grit my teeth and bear it. Nothing is worth sacrificing family, not even a career I adore.

But do any of you have any non-screen activities you have your kids do while you work?
You know, I fully support you in finding your balance whatever that is. But since you're in the working parent forum I do kind of feel like it's necessary to correct you on "sacrificing family."

If you feel that way for YOUR family, that's great. In MY family having my son attend Montessori while we both stay in careers we love and enjoy is actually the reverse of sacrificing family. We found a place that supports our gentle discipline, harmony with the earth, and attachment goals, and our son has learned that there are other people in the world who will care for him and even love him, who are invested in his success, and we've all gotten the gift of the community that forms around that daycare/school. Not really a "sacrifice."
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
You know, I fully support you in finding your balance whatever that is. But since you're in the working parent forum I do kind of feel like it's necessary to correct you on "sacrificing family."

If you feel that way for YOUR family, that's great. In MY family having my son attend Montessori while we both stay in careers we love and enjoy is actually the reverse of sacrificing family. We found a place that supports our gentle discipline, harmony with the earth, and attachment goals, and our son has learned that there are other people in the world who will care for him and even love him, who are invested in his success, and we've all gotten the gift of the community that forms around that daycare/school. Not really a "sacrifice."
Thank you for this--I was just coming back to say something similar.

OP, I WAH two days a week and I use childcare. I have to agree with the previous poster who said you're looking for the impossible. Sure you can make it work with a tiny infant, to some extent. But with an older child, it's not fair to either of you to expect it to magically work.

Good luck with whatever you decide. It's rough, I know.
post #11 of 15
I've been working from home for years - and I've yet to find a solution that didn't involve childcare, or working while ds was asleep.

Now that he's older it's much easier - he can play with friends, a video game, he goes to school! But when he was younger, it was nearly impossible. Even now I line up fun camps, etc for most of the summer.

Good luck with whatever you decide! I know for us, having ds do some fun activities while I work is NOT a sacrifice in the least. He'd much rather be at a summer science camp than be bored at home trying to entertain himself.
post #12 of 15
I am in a similar situation - I am doing a writing job from home, and I have a three year old DD and a nearly year old DS. Childcare is not an option. We are expats and any daycare won't take children who are not vaxxed, and besides, I am not at all happy about their disciplinarian approach to kids. I don't feel hiring someone to play with the kids WHILE I work (in a small apartment) will do very much for me in terms of getting more work done - I feel I would be distracted. Oh, and it's not like we are swimming in money either. So the kids play by themselves while I work in short stretches. I set the timer ala Flylady so they know when I am working and when I am playing with them . I have started to do more work while the kids are asleep recently, which also works well. I wish there was a better solution, but I haven't come up with one so far.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
REAAAAALLY felt like I had to clarify for GuildJenn.

I don't think that working or finding childcare is sacrificing family. Absolutely the contrary. Our home has the least stress when we know we're all where we're supposed to be. For me, that's working as an illustrator and musician. For ds, that's a fantastic alternative school. Homeschooling, which we did for one year, was a totally wrong fit for us.

It was similar when I was an apprentice midwife. It was something our family just couldn't bear in that season of our lives, so I put it down. Had I kept going in that line of work (this is for our family; it works great for others), it would have burned us out. As much as I LOVED midwifery, it wasn't the right career path for us.

The sacrifice I'm referring to is setting the scales too much in the favor of career at the expense of family. It's a balance that each family obviously needs to find for themselves (and the reason I started this thread!)

Thanks so much for all your responses--I'm really weighing them! Any other wahms that are in the arts?
post #14 of 15
I work at home about 20 hours a week. I start at 5 am and work until about 8. I used to work ft and would put in the other hours while ds was napping or after he went to sleep, but I really started to burn out. But he can be clingy, too, so working while he is awake on a regular basis just isn't an option. I had a mothers helper for a while, which worked great some days and not so great on others. So I had to cut back, which is working well for now.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by vespersongs View Post
Any other wahms that are in the arts?
You might want to try the WAHM subforum. I'm not positive, but my guess is that you would find more WAHMs there than here. (BTW, this isn't an indication of the question not being welcome here -- I'm just trying to be helpful and suggest somewhere you might find more useful tips.)
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