jugglingThis post is all about how I juggle looking after my 20 month old twin girls with running my business from home, and was inspired by a linky blog from Feisty Tapas.

Maria from Feisty Tapas works full time from home, and looks after her 18 month old full time from home.  I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed.  Her working from home with kids linky asks other parents to link posts with advice on how we manage it ourselves.  This is mine.

At the moment, it feels like I’ve got quite a lot on my hands:

  1. Looking after my gorgeous little girls
  2. Running the house – my husband is great and does almost all the (non child related) cooking, but alas the cleaning and washing are my domain
  3. Building my accounting business which I started a little under a year ago
  4. Managing my client workload including attending client meetings
  5. Starting another business with two fantastic business women

I also have two lovely step sons, age 9 and 11, who live with their mum most of the time.  They spend every other weekend with us, and one night every week, and it means that my husband is pulled in many directions to help them attend all of their sporting commitments so he is out and about a lot at the weekends.

So how do I manage it?

Firstly, I cheat:

  • The girls have just started with a childminder one morning a week as my business has grown faster than I’d expected.  I felt really torn before they went, but they had a lovely morning, and I think they’ll really get a lot out of it so its not just an arrangement for my convenience.
  • My parents live 20 minutes drive away, and they try to look after the girls one afternoon a week.  Its meant that they have a really fantastic relationship with the girls.  But in reality I find it hard to take much of that time to actually sit in my office and work, so unless I use it to go to client meetings, its not always quite as good as it sounds.
  • My husband often takes the girls out on a Saturday morning to watch one or other of their brothers play football.  So I keep my fingers crossed for dry weather!!
  • The TV is on at least once or twice a day to let me get some cooking or cleaning done, or the occasional business call – I try to limit it to 20-30 minutes…
  • And the house isn’t always pristine, and I haven’t had my hair cut since October 2010 (yes really, that isn’t a typo).

stressed out lady with a laptopSecondly, I’m always on the go:

  • I work most evenings, often until quite late, which I have to admit is not good for getting a good nights sleep!  It also means that if one or other girl is poorly and can’t settle that I get very behind, very quickly.
  • I try to get something done during every lunchtime nap.
  • Coffee is my best friend.

Thirdly, I multi-task:

  • The girls “help” me to sort nappies (yes, we also use terry nappies…), or to unload the dishwasher, so that I can get household chores done when they are awake.
  • My “relaxing” in front of the TV moments, which are few and far between, are usually my social media catch up time.
  • I sometimes have short business calls when the girls are eating their lunch or their tea if its with an understanding client who doesn’t mind a bit of background noise!

Lastly, I have to be well organised:

  • I write lists.  Lots of lists.
  • If I know I’m going to have a clear chunk to get some work done, I plan what I want to do ahead of time.  That way I avoid prevaricating and wasting time!

I have two main spots for working, one is a desk on the top floor in our spare room, which is a cold old room at this time of the year so I sit here today wrapped in a blanket.  The other is on the sofa with my lovely new iPad which is great for social media and emails and feeling like I still get to spend some time with my husband.

I do find it a struggle – hence just starting at the childminder – and like a lot of people I was ill on the run up to Christmas, in fact if I’m honest I was ill on and off from the end of August.  I’m constantly searching for new ways to balance things, that won’t cost the earth, and which won’t take me away from my children more than a few hours a week.  I’m thinking about getting a cleaner, but I’m not sure I can justify the money.  I’m likely to increase the childminder hours if it keeps going well to 2 mornings a week.

To me, its all about spending time with the girls when they are little, while still bringing home some money, and doing something that I love and that exercises my brain.  Its definitely a juggling act, but the rewards are huge.

How do you manage it?  Do you have any tips you can share?