Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online.
Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode…
In this episode, we talk about how to fit your business around kids.
Cool, so this is accidentally super relevant right now
First up, full disclosure: we recorded this episode about a month ago… early February and a lot has changed since then.
Of course, we moved house… which kinda meant slowing down our marketing (hopefully no one noticed too much). BUT most importantly another big big change happened.
The Disease-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named because we’re all sick of hearing it at this point.
So in a way, this episode we recorded way back in Feb (feels like a million years ago now) has suddenly become a whole lot more relevant.
Because more people than ever before are struggling with the question… how do I fit work around my kids?!
Schools are closing left right and centre (thankfully here in QLD at the time of recording this bit of the episode, schools are still open, but for how long?)
It feels like that could change at any day. Who even knows what tomorrow will bring? It’s exciting, isn’t it?
Anyway, we thought we’d better record a little extra intro because things have changed and the situation has become a little more widespread.
Grandparents are possibly no longer a care option for us (and a lot of others) and neither is childcare/school. It’s kind of comforting in a way to know that so many people are in the same boat, at least.
Preparing for kids at home 24/7
So, what are we doing at this point to prepare for probably having our kids at home with us 24/7 while trying to run our businesses?
For a start, Stew and I have been talking about what that will look like and getting realistic about what we can achieve. We’re dividing up the roles more clearly than before – who works, who cooks, who cleans, who shops, who does childcare, etc.
We’re also making hay while the sun still shines (getting ALL the work crammed in now while we can, and while we still have a full plate of work, as this could change with the uncertainty).
… all at the same time as trying to be in the moment more with our kids as they’re so blissfully unaware of the situation, which is nice. Speaking of which, I think our kids are actually doing a bit better than usual with a slightly different routine. They’re enjoying the stability of hanging out at home a little more and getting more mum/dad time.
Back to schedules… if we both have a fairly equal amount of work on, I think we’d have to work in shifts more. E.g. Angela works from 6am-1pm, both rest with kids, Stew works from 3pm-10pm. But for the moment, it’s mostly Angela doing the work and Stew dealing with the kids until they’re asleep.
By the way, we’re loving naps with the kids at the moment. It’s helping us work longer days without getting as burnt out. We have napped with the kids a lot over the years, but we’re really stepping it up right now!
Give yourself time to adjust
So anyway, if this is all new to you… you’re going to love it and hate it probably all at the same time. It’ll take some getting used to but apparently you’ll have like 6 months of it, so give yourself grace and time to settle into new routines.
Adjust your expectations of how much work you can get done and when. If you haven’t already, make sure your employer/clients are okay with you doing flexible work hours so you can get work done when you’re most efficient (aka least likely to be interrupted by kids).
And just so you know, there are many parents all over the world who have been working and juggling kids at home for quite a while now and it’s do-able. You can do this.
Okay, so that’s it for now, I think? We’ll try and resume regular programming sometime soon, but no promises. And maybe that’s okay because you’re not in the mood to hear about website and marketing stuff and we’re not really in the mood to talk about it, just yet. But we’re still here, making things happen while glancing at the news headlines waiting for the next thing to drop.
Stay well, friends. Keep your distance. Enjoy the time with your small people as much as you can.
Oh, and if you feel like you’re missing human connection, we’re only an email away and would be happy to have a chat and set up a Zoom call. Zoom is getting a major workout these days! And kids are welcome on the call, too. Big ones that ask “what’s for dinner?” and small ones that scream and fight. It’s all part of our new weird, wonderful reality. Embrace it?!
Right, that’s officially it! Hope you enjoy hearing what we had to say about working with kids before things got weird.
The original episode
So, you’ve got a business and you’ve got kids. Or you’ve got one and you’re thinking about (or are about to) add the other…
This episode is for you!
We’ve been self-employed for the last 6ish years and parents for more than 4 years, with a 2yo and 4yo boy.
We’re still pretty new to both, but it’s amazing how quickly you can pick things up when you have to adapt. So we thought we’d share a few insights, tips, and realities around how we fit business around our kids.
The good and the bad
First up, why we don’t recommend it:
- Running a business is hard
- Being a parent is hard
Put them both together and you’ll always feel torn in two different directions, like you’re never able to be your best at either thing. Sometimes it really sucks and we wonder if we made a terrible mistake.
Why we do recommend it:
- They’re both also incredibly rewarding
- You get to choose what you work on everyday
The kids drive us nuts, but they’re also big blessings that make us laugh, help us figure out our limits, see the world in different ways, and hopefully become better people.
The business gives us more freedom to adapt to our family’s needs, plus the ability to set big goals and hopefully achieve them a lot more quickly.
It’s meant we’ve both been able to keep moving forward in our careers while our kids are still young. And also make a lot of choices about the kind of work we do… right now, we’re both doing stuff that’s super relevant to our interests and skills. If we were still employed in someone else’s business… in our mid-late 20s… that kind of freedom and autonomy is unheard of.
How we got started
I think it’s important to be open about how tough things were, especially in the beginning.
We started working for ourselves before we had kids. It meant that we made a lot of mistakes and put in very long hours while we could. The risks to us were low. Our personal expenses were extremely low. We lived off very little.
After we had our first kid, Stew went back to a day job for about 2 years. I massively eased up on freelancing during that time and only relaunched things properly when our second kid was 6 months old. By the time he was 1, Stew was able to quit his job again because I was making just enough money to justify it and could see the potential if I had more time/energy to grow.
And Stew has just gradually been adding more hours in over the last year, with the kids both in day care a few days a week. It’s not realistic for us both to go full time just yet.
You might need a second income source in the early days of starting your business – whether it’s a partner or a day job. You’ve got little people relying on you to provide for them, so you can’t take big risks and go all in without really running the numbers.
How we juggle the demands of both
First up: day care. We have an amazing local day care with the very best teachers who take such good care of our kids. We book them in 3 days a week (Monday-Wednesday) so we can both work full-time on those days. Thankfully, day care is a long day so we can often drop them off around 8 and pick up just before 5. School is going to be a whole new issue next year… such short workdays!
On Thursdays, both kids are at home, so Stew mostly deals with them while I shut myself in the office to keep working.
On Fridays, their Grandma takes one child, so Stew can sometimes run errands a bit more easily while I keep working.
Then there’s evenings. After the kids finally go to sleep, we often get a few hours of extra work done before bed. We’re not always super productive, but it’s a good time to take care of admin, write emails for the next day, plan content, and things like that.
And of course, weekends. Sometimes there’s a bit of weekend work if we’ve had a crazy week and feel like we’re getting behind. Maybe we’ve had a lot of appointments or the kids have been sick. Weekend work isn’t great, though, because we start the next week exhausted and it makes everyone a bit resentful… the kids are a handful on your own.
We should also mention sickness. A point we should make if you’ve got little kids is you need to account for sickness a lot more than you used to. We used to get sick maybe once a year. In our kids’ first year of day care, they were sick about every second week with the most awful bugs and half the time, we got sick, too. So just remember that day care is wonderful and all… but booking and paying for 3 days of day care does not mean you’ll end up with 3 days you can get work done. Give yourself a buffer in your schedule in case this happens because it will.
Podcasts were a BIG part of the journey, too. One of the things that I think helped me hit the ground running with relaunching my business was listening to podcasts. I would be dealing with two kids under two all day while Stew was at work. I’d have one ear half listening to the kids, and an earpiece in my other ear, listening to a business-related podcast. It was frustrating because I couldn’t put everything into action right away… but also good because it meant I had a lot of time to come up with ideas and let them simmer. It helped those long days go a lot more quickly, too.
We have a rule that we don’t do any in-person meetings or networking events. With a few very rare exceptions, we set foot into our home office and get to work, every single day. We don’t leave the house to work or meet up with people. We don’t travel anywhere. It’s not a good use of our time/productivity at this stage.
A reality of working at home means office hours aren’t always guaranteed. When everyone’s at home on a Thursday, I do sometimes leave my office cave to help Stew when the kids are being an extra handful (either they’re both screamy-crying or Stew yells out for help, or barricades himself in the office with me). Plus, it’s also hard to get them both to nap, so I do sometimes emerge to help with that (or take a nap with one of them).
Locks are everything. Our kids aren’t old enough to respect closed doors, so we’ve installed a door lock on our office door. We bought it off Amazon, but basically it’s a plastic thingy that attaches to the top of the door (out of reach of the kids) and it has an arm with a hook on it that hooks into the doorframe. Unfortunately, if it’s dropped on the floor enough or the kids use a battering ram technique on the door, it can break. Still worth the investment, though!
Coping with noise can be tricky. I generally try to do meetings early in the week when I know the kids are going to be out of the house because then the only noise I have to deal with is Stew randomly boiling water or dropping large kitchen items during a call. But if it’s an existing client and/or I know they have kids, I’ll do the meeting whenever because I know they’ll understand if they hear a thing or two. Plus, I have Krisp, which seems to work quite well for blocking out background noise on Zoom calls.
Openness is important. We’re super open about the fact that we have kids. Most of the people we work with have them, too. We talk about them on our websites, on our social media. It means there’s no surprises when we have to adapt a little because of our kids. And we give the same grace to our clients and contractors because we know what it’s like.
Working with other parents really helps. One of my favourite things (especially while I was trying to relaunch my services with a baby) was working with other mums. They just get it. They appreciate what you’re going through and will be your biggest encouragers and champions. You can bond over business and breastfeeding all in the same conversation and it’s not even weird, at all. I found it really inspiring to follow entrepreneurs online who were also raising young families because it showed me what was possible (and what wasn’t) so that I could create that for myself. Because no one in my direct circles (family or friends) were charting a path like this.
To sum it up… get as much help as you can!
Well… it’s not easy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not like we have a choice at this point, either 😉
I think the biggest thing is to get help. Make sure you’ve got a solid support system in place because kids and businesses both take up a LOT of time. Especially in the beginning. Grandparents are great. Day care is amazing. Door locks are also amazing.
If you try and fail, don’t give up. Things can change a lot in a short time… find other ways to make money, get a job, be a mum/dad for a bit, and then give it another go.
Good luck and let us know how you go and if you have any questions we haven’t answered here, please feel free to shoot us an email or reach out on the socials.
Our next episode jumps back into a more technical topic – where to purchase domains and get hosting.
Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!