Whether you work a 9 to 5 office job, or set your own hours, it’s not going to happen. But as a stay-at-home father who still needs to bring in a reasonable income to ensure we can keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, keeping up is a daily challenge.
Productivity systems are put in place by people doing a myriad of jobs in order to try to achieve that elusive state of “balance”. It is far easier to see a stay-at-home parent when they are out of whack, simply because more of their attention and focus is on the home rather than the workplace.
When the home is the workplace, it gets really tricky. While it hasn’t been easy, I’ve managed to assemble 3 key ingredients on how a stay-at-home father can get stuff done on a consistent basis. Sure, there’s a lot of front-end work, but that is no different for anyone else who is putting a system into place. The initial setup may seem like a time-suck, but the payoff is huge.
Set aside some days for the “heavy lifting”
Look at your week and figure out what days of the week you can schedule in your biggest jobs. Whether it be running errands, a freelance project or developing a means to generate passive income; if it is something that can afford little to no interruption, lock in a day (or multiple days) for it. Only schedule appointments on those days that require your utmost attention.
My “heavy lifting” days are every Tuesday through Thursday from 10 am until 4 pm. That is when I write pretty much everything I need to for the week, produce my podcasts, conduct interviews and work on my book and my talks. By doing this, I’ve ensured that I can go into those days with the knowledge that I can create freely without interruption. This freedom lets me enter a “flow-like” state, resulting in work that has a greater quality to it than had I been having to worry about stopping and restarting every once in a while.
On the days that I don’t set aside for heavy lifting, I return emails that don’t require an immediate response, catch up on reading and work on other things that don’t require my full, uninterrupted attention. That means that nothing gets missed throughout my week.
How can I set aside all that heavy lifting time during the week? How do I manage to watch my kids and get that work done? That leads up to my second key ingredient…
Hire part-time, in-house child care
My wife and I have an in-home caregiver come in three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday. She only works 20 hours a week, but those hours give me the time to get my work done.
By the way, if you don’t think you can afford to find a reasonable child care option that can come to your house and “sub in” for you on these days, think again. Our caregiver is a part-time student (working on her Early Childhood Education diploma) who charges us per hour half of what I make per hour. By bringing her in three times a week, I’m more than able to pay for her services. If I didn’t have anyone coming in, I’d be hard-pressed to get any quality work done during the week, and would wind up working weekends. That’s not why I decided to work from home and take care of my kids – the weekends are family time and I do little to no work on the weekends because of that.
In addition, by having someone come in, household chores such as laundry, dishes and overall daily maintenance gets handled when my son is napping and my daughter is still at school. It means that we have less to do on the days when our caregiver isn’t here, meaning we have more time for the less mundane when we’re all together.
Finding someone like we have isn’t an easy task – but it can be done. Putting in the work to do so will allow you to get stuff done for both yourself and your family.
Having the first two ingredients in place is all well and good, but unless you have the third ingredient in place you won’t even be able to get off the ground – let alone hit the ground running.
Make wise choices
Since you’re at home with the kids as the primary caregiver, it is incredibly important that you provide the best example for them. How you handle your workload is one of those areas where you can either shine as an example or tarnish your image. Even with heavy lifting days scheduled, you’ll be tempted to work on that great idea once it comes to you. When your part-time caregiver shows up, you’ll be tempted to take a nap when you should be working.
Don’t do those things.
If a great idea comes to you in the middle of a time where you know it will turn into something that will take some time and effort to foster, capture it and let it go until such a time presents itself where you can give it the effort and attention it deserves. Need a nap? Again, take it when such a time presents itself where it will benefit you – and your situation – the most. I take them when my caregiver has days off and my son happens to be napping. It gives me the recharge I need without the regret that I don’t.
Putting the first two ingredients into place will enable you to take the third and create a recipe for success. Not just one for work, but one for the life you’ve crafted for you and your family.