Full disclosure: I started 2 businesses (and managed 2 others!!) while my kids were still at home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not have childcare help, needed to manage my kids’ virtual schooling (3rd grade and Kindergarten), and activities for my 3-year-old. Plus all the normal household stuff. Not saying this to make you feel bad because I did spend about 3 months of that time wallowing and eating and drinking and laying on the couch. Anxiety is a real beast. All that to say – this is what I did (am doing) to start my businesses, stay sort of sane, and keep afloat.
How to start a business with kids at home
- Simplify your menu. Hot dogs every week. Pizza on Fridays. Spaghetti on repeat. Whatever they’ll eat and takes little time to prepare – do it.
- Buy pre-made meals. If you can’t afford it, see above.
- Order takeout. If you can’t afford it, see #1.
- Grocery delivery. It’ll save your life I promise.
- Get up early OR stay up late. Don’t do both – trust me on this. But you’ll need time when the kids are sleeping, so pick one and use the time wisely. I’m a night owl – you won’t see me up at 4am writing email sequences. (Clients, you’re welcome!)
- Make your kids help. Teach them how to clean a toilet. Have them put their dishes and laundry away. They won’t do it perfect, but that doesn’t matter. (Repeat that…)
- Make a routine (or don’t). I am always trying to stick to a schedule but during pandemic school, it’s just not that reasonable. Sometimes I showered before the kids got up, sometimes not at all, and most of the time it was somewhere in between morning snack and lunch – you do know that kid time is measured in food, right?
- Screen time. Remind yourself this is temporary. Let them watch extra TV. Let them play games on the iPad. Make it educational, or even don’t worry about it so much. We all need an escape and age-appropriate screen time works for me.
- Work together. Do I want to share my desk with my 8-year-old while she does science videos? Not really – but it makes her feel better about life, and I get less interruptions. Sitting at mom’s desk has become a fun reward, and I’ll kinda miss the company after they go back to school. (Maybe…)
- Don’t clean. Or hire help. Or get a robot vacuum – seriously those things are sweet!
- Lower your standards. Sorry but it’s reality. And temporary.
- Get organized. This is so necessary or you’ll drop all the balls – even the glass ones. I use Asana. And Slack. And Later. I had to stop using my inbox as a to do list and work smarter not harder. There’s no time to work harder.
- Ditch the booze. Okay, so maybe you can have some on the weekends, but skip it on weeknights. You need to be at your best. Try tea instead. Not the same, but it works. (Sober friends – I see you working hard at this every day and I love you!)
- Eat well. (Still working on this…) Did you know they have convenient healthy food now? Don’t make it hard on yourself – get the premade stuff and call it a day.
- Exercise. (Also still working on this…) This might look like doing a few squats while you’re keeping the 3-year-old company in the bathroom (if you know, you know). It might look like getting up early to fit it in or taking walks with the kids for fresh air. Whatever it looks like you know it’s beneficial.
- Talk to your kids. Explain to them your business goals. Hang them on the fridge. Help them be invested in you and why you say no all the time.
- Put the toys in the basement. Or whatever corner of your house you can find that has some space between you and them. Send them there.
- Set boundaries. With your kids. With your partner. With whoever. Make work a priority.
- Listen to music. Headphones are an amazing invention.
- Be patient. With yourself and your kids. You’re learning. Most days you won’t get it right, but keep trying.
- Ask for help. If you have a partner, talk to them about making dinner or doing the laundry. If you don’t, ask a friend or see #10.
- Be honest. With yourself about what you can handle and with your customers about what you have going on. No one is mad to hear, “I am managing virtual school at home with my 3 kids while I work on your project. I promise to be as responsive as possible and will meet your deadline, but please be patient.” Odds are they’re in the same boat.
- Multitask. To a degree. You can’t write a contract while listening to a voicemail and responding to email. But you can do multiplication flashcards during dinner and listen to a podcast while you shower.
- Say no. It’s very liberating, I promise. And during covid-times, even easier. No, sorry, can’t play/come over/have guests/do lunch.
- Make the main thing the main thing. Your kids and your family are your priority, and then your new business. (At least I assume it’s in that order – no judgment). Make sure your kids are fed and supported, get your major business tasks complete. Then think about mopping or wiping a sink.
YOU CAN DO THIS, I PROMISE. We can do hard things. We can do things we never thought we could. Comment below or send me an email if you need support – I’m here for you. Let me know if these tips help you, or if you have any to add!!