Spare time is possible when you have young children.
When I started having babies I never imagined that it would be possible with multiple young children to find enough spare time to achieve personal goals. Time management felt overwhelming – it was enough just to feed my family and keep my house clean. I couldn’t think of adding in something as difficult as starting a home business.
BUT – after listening to mentors and some trial-and-error, I was able to set small goals for myself and have achieved so much more than I ever thought possible – all while being a stay-at-home mother who still takes care of my three young children (and makes meals and keeps my house clean!)
I will tell you how I set a goal, found free time almost every day for the past two years, and have seen the rewarding results from a dedicated use of this spare time.
Step one: Make a Clear Goal for Spare Time
What is it that you want to use your spare time for? Naming it will help you to be motivated to find your spare time! Here are some ideas:
- A new or improved skill: Some ideas are: graphic design, home improvement, furniture upcycling / crafting, knowledge of the Bible, learning a language, or starting an at-home, money-making business.
- Reading books on a particular subject
- Budgeting / meal planning
- Baking for your family or for others
- Serving at church
- Mentoring women
- Calling long-distance family – maybe a younger sibling you still need to develop a relationship with, or your mother
When I decided to begin growing my business, I was 7 months pregnant with my third child. My goal was to help my husband by making extra money for our growing family while my kids were sleeping. I already had an Etsy shop, so this meant dedicating myself to learning how to promote this shop better and draw more traffic, and therefore sales, to my shop.
Not sure what goals to set?
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2. Strict Time Management
Organizing my time was key to me growing my home business. I knew that I had to strictly set aside time to work each day.
For me this meant:
A morning routine
- I take the time to wake up early enough to do the essentials – study my Bible and pray. I have to make my relationship with God top priority in order to walk wisely throughout the rest of my day!
- Training the kids to play in their rooms for an hour each morning. My kids are early risers. Jerod and I see it as important to spend time with the Lord before our day begins and the demands of kids and schedule take over! So we have trained them (with the help and suggestions of wiser, older parents) to stay in their rooms and play quietly. We start this at a very young age! Babies can stay in their cribs with books and toys and learn to self-entertain. Now the older ones know they can come and draw or play quietly outside their rooms if they don’t interrupt us.
- I had to lay aside social media and naps for myself. I try to dedicate myself to my close friends and family by texting them and spending time in person. Facebook is only an occasional thing for me. When I’m on my computer, it’s business time. Naps became a thing of the past when I decided to get serious about my home business. (When I’m sick or unusually tired I will still take short naps!)
Be okay with an imperfect house
- I often need to leave the lunch dishes where they sit while I go to work. Sometimes they have to wait until 3:30 when school is out and work is done.
- I have my older two girls (4 and 7) clean their room and the play room (connected to their room by a spiral staircase). I tell them to “get it ready for inspection.” They actually do a better job cleaning than I would if I were to just breeze through and pick up!
Strict Kid Schedules
Strict lunch / nap schedule
I am diligent to be home by noon to get lunch on the table and read books to my girls so they can be down to nap by 1pm. I can fudge on that in the summer, but during the school year I have to be out the door to pick up my oldest from school, giving me only 2 hours of work time. Keeping my goal in mind helped me to keep this strict schedule!
I think it’s best for kids to have a regular bedtime, along with a bedtime routine. They can feel their bodies winding down at the same time every night, and get ready for their bedtime snack and story. One thing that can be hard is making the adjustment with a child who still naps in the afternoon – but whose eyes can’t seem to close at bedtime. We have had great success with placing an old iPod in our kids’ rooms with a dock, and playing dramatized Narnia stories or Adventures in Odyssey. This keeps the kids in bed when they are still wide awake, and the familiar stories lull them to sleep. (New stories can tend to keep energetic kids awake though.)
A strict bedtime affords Jerod and I a good chunk of spare time in the evenings, to spend together or to work.
3. Find Small Motivations
For me, work time means a bite of chocolate and a cup of coffee. I usually wrap up in a fuzzy blanket (yes, even in the summer if I can), and sit down at my computer. The chocolate and coffee give me the motivation to sit down, and also the kick I need to keep my brain functioning at “prime nap time”.
4. Minimize Interruptions
Texts, phone calls, emails – they can all be very interruptive to the small window of time I get to work. I often ignore any outside interruptions until I’m done with my work time.
Multi-tasking: the spare-time killer
Another extremely helpful thing for productivity is to resist the temptation to multi-task. I am the most productive when I pick one task and make myself stick to it until it’s done! If I pick too many things to jam into my spare time, it’s gone before I know it.
So…did it work for me?
Here are the stats for the number of orders from my Etsy shop for when I started dedicating time to my home business. In July 2014, I began dedicating time each day to working and growing my business, and I saw immediate growth! Look at my statistics for my shop orders below. My revenue grew 32x in 2014-2015 from what it was the previous year, and in 2015-2016 the revenue increased 63X what it had been in 2013-2014. Just from a few hours of work a day.
This income has helped our family tremendously, most recently enabling my husband to get further education to be the best minister he can be.
I’m going to get up close and personal with you now. As one who is created in God’s image, made as a caretaker and ruler of this world we live on (Genesis 1:28), we should be using our time wisely and not wasting large quantities of it with useless and trivial things. Being a mother and worker at home is not trivial, it is hard work! But I often find myself wasting extra minutes God has given me on my phone – I often can’t even describe what I’m doing with my time! Researching this or that, investigating real estate or decorating tips. What about you? What can you be using your time for instead? How can you redeem the time you are given here on Earth and work toward a goal with those extra moments?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments – what is it that you would like to dedicate more time to? Or maybe you are already very successful in your time management – what tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve for finding spare time?