One of the reasons I wanted to be working for myself was so I could spend time with my future (at the time) children. My dad worked hard outside of the home and was gone for 12 hours a day, talking to him now that I’m an adult, he wishes he could have been around more. I decided not to repeat that ‘mistake’.
For the most part things work just fine. I see my daughter off to daycare then pick her up around 4pm and have 3 hours with her in the evening. The issues come up when she is sick and at home.
The days I’m home as the main caregiver are just a total write off, even if she is not sick. At 19 months old she needs lots of attention and wants you to play with her the whole time. This is not a bad thing, just a thing.
Days my wife is home as the main caregiver it’s still not a full day of work if she is sick. I end up helping with things, taking long lunches and generally just making sure that both of them are alright.
When we started this adventure of having a kid and working for myself I way over estimated the amount of work I can get done with the kid in my charge. At one point I’d even get really stressed about getting work done and trying to watch my daughter, I just gave up.
There are some things you can control and some things you can’t. One thing I can’t control is the time it takes to be a good parent, so I stopped sweating it.
Here are a few of my tips to get work done, even with the kids around:
- Good pair of headphones so you can stay focused (obviously not when you are the main caregiver). I have two sets. The Logitech G930 for when I’m working in the office and Ultimate Ears 500vi when I am out or working from another portion of the house.
- Get out of the house then you can focus. I’ve found that despite my being ‘at work’ I end up helping my wife with stuff during the day when she is home. Stop getting frustrated with that and find a spot that you can go to and work out of the house. This makes you truly ‘at work’ and if you’re not around to help then you can’t be asked. It’s not mean it’s pragmatic, the money I make pays for the house if I don’t make money we have no house.
- Decide the child rearing split. In some houses one parent does 90% of the child rearing, in mine it’s a fairly even split. Decide what works for you and your jobs and then just accept it. Of course the kid will be sick during the busiest week for both of you. The point is that you talk about it and each feel like it’s a fair split, then stop complaining, it doesn’t help you or your partner/spouse.
That’s it. If you can only do one of the 3 items above the third one is the most important. Keep talking with your partner/spouse and you’ll both make it through okay.