Working from home with kids: how to make it work.

Tips & tricks that will help you stay sane ↴

Working from home with kids presents a new set of challenges. Making it work is a struggle and an art. I’ve been self-employed since 2017 and became a mum two years later. So I’ve been juggling WFH and motherhood for four years now. Most of you may have first experienced this during the pandemic. I remember, during the first few months of isolation, people asked me how I manage not to lose my marbles at the end of the day. Honestly, most of the time, I have no idea how I don’t.

Even as I’m trying to write this, I stopped like a million times. My almost-four-year-old is asking me to play with her, nudging me, and doing everything in her power to grab my attention. I feel terribly guilty for having to work when she’s at home. And the only chance I have to create my content, work on my personal projects, and actually do something for myself (sometimes even something as basic as washing my hair) – is in the evening when she’s at home.

This brings us to the million-dollar question I’ve been asked at least a thousand times.

▶ “But how do you manage?”

Mind you, on some days I don’t manage to be productive. At all. But most things I learned through experience and some take a while getting used to but if you put your mind to it, you’ll get there eventually. I’m sharing five (5) tried & tested tips that help me get through my working day at home with my child.

1. Workspace

Having a designated area for work helps set a boundary between home life and work itself. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown office if you don’t have the space for it (like in my case). A desk setup and shelving should be just about enough to get you off working from your couch or dining table.

2. Schedule & prioritize

The demands of both work and family life are trying. Having a routine helps but we all know how that blows to pieces when one of the kids sneezes. Didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but there you have it. You need to be flexible and manage your expectations when you have kids around. Schedule your work when the kids are occupied: at school, during home activities or during nap time.

So I’m the most productive in the mornings when Bethany is at school and then I’ll work around entertaining her when she comes back home in the afternoon. First thing in the morning, I make a list. A simple, pen-to-paper list, starting with top priority, time-bound work including tasks that require 100% focus, meetings, and calls. So that once I have Beth at home, I manage tasks a little down that list.

3. Set achievable goals

This should be highlighted, bold, and underlined. It’s better to keep that list short and have 6 doable tasks than jot down 20 tasks that you cannot, for the life of you, get through. It’s frustrating and overwhelming. I’ve been through that too many times to count before it finally sank in. And NEVER ever multitask. That is just the worst. You’ll feel more stressed, and unable to concentrate and it will set you back tenfold.

4. Learn to say NO.

This is a learning curve. It’s easier said than done and I’ve learned this the hard way. But it’s better to know your limit than be in over your head. Otherwise, you’ll burn out faster than the fireworks on the fourth of July (or if you’re Maltese, on Santa Marija). If a task is not a priority, focus on what is truly important during your allocated work time.

There are times during the early years of self-employment when you cannot afford to say no to some projects. You’re just starting out and need both experience and cash flow. I’ve been there, I get it. Years later though, once you’ve found your niche, your market, do not be scared to decline work when: 1. you have too much on your plate 2. requests do not align with your priorities.

5. Take breaks

If you have a time when you’re without your kids, take a break. Don’t power through the day without stopping to take a breath. You need that time to refocus. When you’re with your kids, plan activities for them. Kids will not sit through one activity for long. I found that preparing activities beforehand helps: with puzzles, drawing, painting, and role-playing. Going to the park/play areas after school is another way to take a mental break and spend some good quality time together (and get them to exercise with the hope of a short nap later).

Listen, when I have a deadline, I’m going to be the first to admit that Disney+ saves me every time. You’re not a bad parent for including a little more screen time when you find yourself backed against a wall. Which brings me to working through distractions – it’s an acquired skill. When you have no option but to work through ‘Let it go’ on a loop, you’ll see what I mean. I usually stay close to Bethany to have eyes on her and put on my headphones. There will be nudges, there will be requests for snacks and whatnot but it’s doable.

✨ Be kind to yourself.

You’re doing the best you can. Sometimes even more so don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t manage to go through your work list or had to increase a little screen time to complete a task. I’m also aware that it depends on the type of job that you have, the kind of employer and clients. Little by little, we’re getting to a place where people understand what it means to have work responsibilities and the demands of parenting.

My advice to you? Take care of yourself and don’t ever forget that. During my cabin crew years and every time I get on a plane, there is that one phrase that you may take for granted but I cannot get out of my head: “Put on your mask first before helping others.” I apply it to my everyday life. If I burn out, if I fail to take care of myself, how can I care for others? My family? My clients? And accept help when you need it.

Until next time,

Amanda x

↠ MORE ON THIS! I’m sharing my self-employed journey on Instagram and will be showing what I find most helpful over there. Feel free to follow for tips & updates!

Mobile Marketing: 3 Must-knows

I have a couple of questions for you. Let’s go!

  • Where is your phone right now?
  • Where do you put your phone while you sleep?
  • Do you use your phone to check the time?
  • Do you take your phone to the bathroom with you?
  • Has the time you use your phone increased?
  • Are you reading this on your phone right now?

Hey, relax. This post is NOT about smartphone addiction. I wanted to help you realise (if you haven’t on your own already) that smartphones have become a necessity. We can live without them, mind you. I spent 10 days in Cuba, back in 2018, without any internet connection and it was BLISS. But the fact that I’m even saying that it felt good to not look at my phone for a long time goes to show how much I am on my phone. Sometimes, without even realising it.

What is mobile marketing?

➯ A digital marketing strategy aimed at reaching a target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and/or other mobile devices, via websites, email, SMS and MMS, social media, and apps.

As a business owner, you have to think mobile. You want to hook your audience, engage with them and make a sale.

As a consumer, and an avid smartphone user, you want to browse through aesthetically pleasing shops without a hiccup.

COVID-19 was a setback. It turned our lives upside down. BUT one thing that came out of this, when businesses had to close their doors temporarily, was the realisation that being available online was the only viable option at the time.

Locally, I have seen a rise in e-shops and an improvement in making a customer’s online shopping experience a pleasant one. Still a long way to go but we’re getting there.

How is your mobile marketing doing?

If you can’t answer this, I believe it’s high time you pay a little more attention to mobile.

Everyone (or almost everyone) is on their phones – constantly. We chat, play, work, listen to music, shop, scroll endlessly through TikTok and tap from one story to the next on IG.

3 Must-Knows

To get the hang of mobile marketing, you need more than just three (3) tips, I know – BUT – we need to start from somewhere.

1. WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE?

Understand your audience. Sure, you’ve heard this a million times. But do you truly know who and where your people are? How do they use their mobile devices?

The most simple thing to do is to ASK. Run a super short survey/poll and ask your already-existing customers short and simple questions. Example:

  • Are you on Instagram?
  • Do you prefer shopping on your phone or desktop?
  • Which devices do you use? (Phone, tablet etc.)

Know who your people are. Listen to online discussions and be present – start a conversation. It’s NOT ENOUGH to just be there. You have to be seen and heard.

2. WRITE FOR MOBILE

It’s not the first time I came across a Facebook post that simply NEVER ends. Your message needs to come across clearly. Being clear and concise is essential. I cannot stress this enough. Even your call to action needs to be clear so that users will be able to understand what to expect.

When it comes to writing for mobile (e.g. online – social media & offline – SMS) avoid writing chunks of paragraphs. This is not an essay. Write short, punchy headlines and straightforward messages, use visuals – make it count!

3. GREAT USER EXPERIENCE

Make it easy for users to navigate through your shop. Having a mobile-friendly website is a must and not an option. Mobile devices call for interaction and users expect a more personalised experience.

You don’t want them to end up frustrated because they’re having trouble with browsing or making a payment. So, make it seamless for users to purchase with a few clicks as possible.

Nowadays, having social media presence is essential for any business. So, BE SOCIAL. Grow your business around a customer experience focused culture.

Think of all the things that bother you as an online user as you browse through other social media accounts and pages, learn from them and avoid repeating their mistakes.

Where is your business at right now?

If you haven’t already, start working on how to build and maximise your mobile presence.

And hey, don’t be afraid of change. It’s good to spice things up. You know, there’s always room for improvement and I’m sure you’ll do great!

Amanda x

Start your business: a guide (part 1)

We have been through a lot of ups and downs this past year. Some of us lost their jobs, some of us changed their jobs and some decided to start out on their own.

I’ve been there back in 2017. The first year (not month) was the toughest. I remember forking out money to set up my website and everything else before I had any income. And when I did have an income, it was only a trickle the first month. But when you successfully land your first client (and you will), I kid you not, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

Mind you, it never gets easier. If you think that running your own business and being your own boss is a breeze, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. Add being a parent to the mix whose child is at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, and there you have it.

But, I’m writing this to help you out, not to frighten the living daylights out of you. I’ve always been one to say it as it is; no beating about the bush. Bear with me.

So, now that you are ready to get started, I’d like to give you a helping hand. I didn’t have any guidance when I set foot on this path and always thought it would be nice to have had someone shed light on the road ahead.

OK, let’s cut to the chase. Where do you start?

1. Research, research!

Assuming you know what your products or services you’re going to offer are and that it is the right business venture for you, research first. Make sure there is a market for what you’re offering. Never assume people will buy your product just because YOU (or your family) like it.

  • Who are you selling to? Who are your primary customers?
  • What are their needs, frustrations?
  • How does your product/service help them?
  • Are there any products/services similar to yours?
  • Who is your competition?
  • How will you set yourself apart?

2. Plan it out.

A business without a plan? That’s a no-go. Don’t even think about going there. A business plan can be simple, nothing out of this world, but you need to have one. Specify your objective and map it out. What direction are you planning to take? This will change as your business grows.

Sample Business Plan to help you with writing your own: Samples by Hubspot.

3. Funding.

Service providers, online businesses, brick & mortar businesses – you all need the same thing: funding. The expense may differ depending on the business type but it costs money to start any business.

First you need to determine how much startup funding you will need. I can assure you that you will have bills and invoices to settle way before your business takes flight.

  • Will you self-fund?
  • Will you look for investors?
  • Will you be taking a small loan?

So make sure you put a lot of thought into this because you need this information before you launch. You can even seek (or perhaps it’s better if you do) professional guidance from trusted financial advisors.

  • List the expenses
  • Estimate how much these expenses will cost
  • Draw a full financial picture
  • Use this to calculate your initial fund

What kind of expenses? Equipment, office space, utilities, marketing, salaries, market research, website, communications etc.

  1. Refine your idea
  2. Conduct market research
  3. Check out the competition
  4. Write a Business Plan
  5. Draw a financial map

This is PART 1 of my guide. What will you expect in PART 2?

  • Registrations
  • Location
  • Structure
  • Marketing

Becoming self-occupied or self-employed also mean: paying your own taxes, vat and social security contributions. But we’ll cover that in PART 2 😉

You will probably start small and you will have moments of failure. Learn from them. Don’t toss everything to the side as soon as one thing goes wrong. That’s life, it’s a learning process.

Amanda x