Over the years, I have shared my systems and my life with you all on the podcast and now here on the blog. It is no secret that I am a huge proponent of time blocking and champion the belief that good time management skills can turn the life you dream about into the life you live. Setting aside uninterrupted time to work on your business is key to the success of your business.
But what happens when you have kids at home? In this post, I’m going to give you five straight tips on how I get an uninterrupted work block and how you can, too!
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
“I Can’t Get Anything Done!”
“They keep coming in my office! My kids always need something! They don’t know how to respect boundaries and I’m about to throw in the towel! I can’t keep going on like this and honestly I’m not sure what to do to make it work.”
Sound familiar? Let’s break it all down. I will walk you through the nitty gritty about why it’s so hard for moms to focus. Plus I’m going to give you some really cool details about how to make this work in your life, too. It’s not time to throw in the towel just yet, momma!
Time Blocking With Kids at Home
I get asked a lot, “How do you not have your kids come interrupt you?” The answer is, they do. But I do have a work block. I have carved out a life where I work Monday through Friday. I take weekends off and still run my business. But that doesn’t mean it looks the exact same every week, even with my time blocks.
When my kids’ schedules change for summer break or we have things come up that throw us in survival mode, I sometimes struggle to keep things going as smoothly as I’d like. Most moms get stuck in the position where we want to do justice to every area in our life. We want to keep a clean home, run a successful business, and take care of our kids and husband well.
On top of that, we want to do all this without sticking our kids on screens all day. We don’t want to be eating frozen meals every night. Feeling like we have poured into our family is important to us. This is something everyone struggles with at some point.
Survival Mode is Not Meant to Be Permanent
A lot of you are running around putting out fires all the time. You don’t have a system or routines and the pressure is too much. Trying to fit in an uninterrupted time block into your schedule sounds like a fantasy.
But let me tell you this, survival mode is not meant to be permanent. I repeat, survival mode is not meant to be permanent. You are meant to live a life where you thrive. So let’s dive into my five time blocking tips to help you get that uninterrupted work block.
1. Use Time Blocking to Manage Your Days
If you are not already using time blocking to manage your time during your week, you need to start. The title of this post is “time blocking tips to make the most of your work block when your kids are at home” so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Set up your time blocks at the beginning of the week. The way you learn how to do this is by grabbing and completing my time blocking workbook. You should have the hours you need to run your business blocked off each week.
The Key to an Uninterrupted Work Block
My work blocks and your work blocks may not look the same. You may have more or less time to fit in, that doesn’t matter. My work block looks different every single week. That doesn’t matter, it just needs to be scheduled.
I can’t have an uninterrupted work block if I have no work block. You can’t just say, “hey kids, I’m going to go work” and then be frustrated when they come interrupt you. It’s not technically a work block if you haven’t set aside the hours to actually be working. So you need to know exactly how many hours you need each week to run your business. If you don’t know how many hours you need, join me in the Academy, I have an entire section devoted to this.
2. Pour Into Your Family and Your Home Before Your Work Block
Pouring into your family and your home before you start your work block is absolutely going to increase your chance of having an uninterrupted work block. No matter what age your children are, do this. Eye contact, touch, whatever their love language is, do it. Make sure you know what you need to do to pour into your children.
As for your home, do the dishes or sweep the floors. When these things need done, they are distracting. It is not just your children calling your name when you sit down to work. Your dirty laundry and all the work you need to do calls you. It demands your attention. Don’t let it distract you from doing the hard work in your business.
This is Why You Need Systems
It is super important to have systems and routines in your home 100% of the time. I always start my morning with my morning routine which is getting myself ready for the day. My second block is my AM block and this is where I pour into my home. Sometimes it’s an hour, but sometimes it goes all morning through lunch before I start my work block.
Your kids need you. I don’t care if they tell you they don’t, they do. Grab breakfast with them. Anything that lights them up, reading or technology, whatever it is, ask them about it. Ask them about their plans or projects. Talk to them without your phone or laptop.
3. Use Screen Time Strategically and Create Play Lists
Don’t let your kids have technology all through the AM block when you know you are going to want them to use it during your work block. If you are going to let them watch a movie or have other screen time during your work block, keep them off of it until then. My kids don’t have access to their tablets at hand, they have to ask for them.
Your kids should know how to entertain themselves and they won’t learn unless they are given the opportunity to entertain themselves. Delete YouTube from your kids’ lives. It’s designed to keep them scrolling as soon as they get bored. It destroys their attention spans.
Let Them Play
We don’t live in an area where I can just turn my kids loose and let them run and play. This is why I am intentional about pouring into them every morning. We do activities at home and in our community. And then during my work block, they are left to play.
I alternate between letting them use apps that we have approved and letting them be bored. Kids can entertain themselves. I am 100% ok with letting my kids get bored and learning how to deal with that. Get over the guilt of letting them be bored and let them learn how to play imaginatively.
Create a Play List
One thing I like to do is write a list for each of my girls. On that list are activities they can do. I put this on our command center. Then when one of them comes in during my work block because they are bored, I can point them to that. For my youngest, I will sometimes set up stations throughout our house and point her to those.
“Survival mode is not meant to be permanent. I repeat, survival mode is not meant to be permanent. You are meant to live a life where you thrive.”
4. Discuss Your Needs With Your Spouse
Oftentimes, we as wives don’t want to burden our husbands. Or maybe we think they won’t understand. Sometimes he is gone at work all the time and we think there isn’t a solution he could offer. For me, Blaine is home during the day sometimes. He is a firefighter and his shifts aren’t your typical 9-5.
It doesn’t matter what your husband’s schedule looks like. You both need to be on the same page, which means you need to talk to him. What I’ve noticed over the years is that when you can get on the same page as your husband, you will be able to do what you need 1000 times better.
Time Blocking With Your Husband’s Support
It may take time, but getting to a place where you and your husband are on the same page about time blocking is necessary. This is one that may take some time. It didn’t happen immediately for me and Blaine is supportive. Your ability to create an uninterrupted work block is helped or hindered by your husband’s support.
We have this conversation over and over again. That’s just part of life. Things like mom guilt pop up and you have to talk about it. You may have to remind him that this was something you both agreed was important. Then you both can work together to make it happen.
Sometimes You Need to Be Flexible
Ideally, my work block happens in the afternoon only and never infringes on my morning or evening routine blocks. But some weeks, that isn’t the case. I don’t have a lot of help in watching my kids and sometimes that means that instead of using screen time to get my work done, I will move my work to the early morning or evening hours.
I’m still going to get my 7-9 hours of sleep, I will still honor that need, but I am going to substitute most of my morning or evening routine block. This is something that needs to be said and you need to understand. Sometimes it is something you have to do. Keep having the conversation with your husband.
A Word of Warning About Time Blocking Around Everyone Else
Yes, I said that sometimes you have to be flexible with your time blocking. Sometimes there are things that need to be worked around. You still need to be cautious that you don’t fall into the trap of working your schedule around everyone else.
When you are focused on working around everyone else to keep everyone else happy, you will experience burn out. This is why knowing your priorities is so important. If you don’t know yours, get to know them by going through my free priorities workbook. Knowing these priorities will help you avoid the bitterness and resentment that comes when your needs are consistently not being met.
Your Needs Change, Talk About It
Even if your husband is home with you a lot, he still can’t know all of your needs. Don’t expect him to remember your needs after talking about it once. This is why it is important to keep talking. But beyond that, your needs can change. Figure out how to work with that together. Learn to communicate your needs to your husband with an open heart and without placing blame. It’s so worth it.
5. Create Clear Consequences, AKA Boundaries
The definition of consequences is not negative, it is simply an outcome. There can be positive or negative outcomes. The consequence of any decision can go either way. Whether it is positive or negative can even vary from one person to the next. We also call these boundaries. You need to have boundaries in place with your children and your husband.
Boundaries Don’t Necessarily Come First
You do need to communicate your boundaries very clearly. But before you get to that point, you will have a lot of groundwork to lay in steps one through four. You will have to do your homework. Before you can respectfully enforce boundaries, you have to do do the following:
- get super clear with your communication
- pour into your kids
- organize your time
- establish your calendar and your time blocks
You need to run your ship. Once you can effectively say you are trying your best to run your ship and putting things into place to stay organized, then it’s time to get super clear on the consequences of not respecting those boundaries.
How to Respectfully Enforce Your Boundaries
The outcome of when my children interrupt me doesn’t yield what they are hoping for on the other side of when Mom is done working. There has to be a positive outcome for them that they are working towards that they don’t receive when they don’t honor or respect the work block.
We use Love and Logic in our home, it has taught me to shepherd my children. It has served us well. This is just a part of that. Every single time that Mom has a work block, they know when it’s going to be done and what they get on the other side of that. Sometimes it is that we play together, sometimes it’s us making dinner together, and sometimes it is that we are going to the pool together.
What Happens When They Don’t Honor the Work Block?
It doesn’t matter what the thing is, it doesn’t have to be big. The point is that they know what it is. What happens when they don’t respect the work block boundary? Bummer, we don’t get to do that thing. That is the consequence.
They aren’t in trouble, they just didn’t get what they hoped for. Now, if they are disrespectful and rude, there are different consequences for that behavior in our home. The point of this is to teach your children to respect your boundaries.
Teaching Your Children How Relationships Work
Relationships are a two-way street and your parent-child relationship is no different. You give to your child and they give to you. I don’t ever want my children to feel entitled to receive anything from anyone. Yes, I give my children unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace and they can expect that from me. But it is also my job to teach them to give that to others.
How Does This Work With Little Kids?
This is how this sounds with younger kids:
“Hey, you really want Mom to come and play blocks with you. In order for Mom to come and play blocks with you, Bailey Mae, I need to be able to finish my work. Then I will be able to close my laptop and come out of my bedroom to play blocks with you. But if you keep coming in here and Mommy can’t finish her work, then I can’t close my laptop and I can’t come play blocks with you. So I would love it if you could go and play with your dolls until the timer stops.”
What About My Tweens?
If your kids are older, it may sound like this:
“You need me to go run you to your friends house in the middle of my work block? Well, when talked this weekend at our Sunday sit down, you didn’t tell me that you wanted to go to a friend’s house. You have probably been texting them all morning and you knew you guys wanted to hang out. How come you waited until right now? I will take you this one time, but next time I’m not taking you because I feel like it’s super disrespectful for me to do all these things for you, but you can’t do this thing for me. Ask me to take you to your friend’s house before I start my work block, please.”
You Can Do This!
Have hard conversations with your kids! Be firm with your boundaries. We’ve already worked through the guilt. You have already poured into your children that day, now you are working on mutual relationship. Both are important.
Your Husband is Not Your Child
When we talk about boundaries, it is different with our husbands vs. our children. Your husband is your teammate. When you think of this as shoulder-to-shoulder teammates, I like to think about it like an actual sports team. What does that look like when you are trying to score points? Figure out what plays you need to run together to win the game.
I will sometimes even use this language with Blaine because it’s concrete. A lot of guys understand sports, but if that isn’t your husband’s thing, find something else. Figure out how to communicate your needs with him in a way that helps him understand what you are trying to say. You guys are a team, 100% of the time. If he can’t understand what you need, then how can he support you? Just as you can’t support him unless you understand what he needs.
Be an Encouragement
When your husband gets it right, let him know! When someone hits a home run in a game, what do their teammates do? They come out and give them high fives! Encourage your teammate.
Think about what kind of work you are scheduling in your work block. When you know you are likely to be interrupted, that’s when you need to be doing work that is of the “check it off” nature. Do not schedule your actual creative work for these times.
When I’m doing a podcast, most of the time, I do not do those at times I know my kids are going to be needing snacks or other help. I am very strategic with what work I put in my work block. When I schedule my week, I look at my workflow and decide which work needs undivided attention and then I schedule that when my kids won’t be home.
What If I Never Have Time Without My Kids?
You may not have someone to take your kids every week. Sometimes I don’t either. Those weeks, I will do that work in the evening or the early morning when my kids are asleep. I will tell Blaine, “Hey, I know we normally hang out in the evening before bed each night. This week I can only do that on Wednesday because I don’t have any uninterrupted work block times.”
Blaine is ok with that because I have communicated my needs a million times to him. He also knows that this isn’t my norm, it’s my back up plan. You may be able to set your work block for an evening time or nap time and still have quality time when your husband is home. Just be willing to be flexible and maybe get a little creative.
An Uninterrupted Work Time Block is Possible
Time blocking truly can make your life better. Once you have the basics figured out, it becomes a matter of practice. Remember, you don’t have to get it perfectly right the first time. You can always tweak your plan. It’s a tool you can use to make your life less chaotic. I promise.
You can do this, momma! Remember to check in with us in the Facebook group for even more support. I’m rooting for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I start with time blocking?
Great question! The first thing you need to know is what your priorities are. You want to know what tasks you need to get into your week. Use my priorities workbook to really flesh this out. Once you understand what you are trying to accomplish each week, then you need to learn how to put it all in your schedule. Download my time blocking workbook and I can walk you through figuring that out, too!
If you want a more detailed structure or help with knowing how much time you need for your business, join the Academy. I will walk you through all of the things to take you from overwhelm to confidence.