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Being a Stay at Home Dad: How to Survive Working Online from Home
One of my favorite memories is the night of my rehearsal dinner when both my Dad and future father-in-law gave a speech in front of our closest friends and family. We had all been drinking a little and were feeling pretty good, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard or felt as emotional as I did that night. Okay, I obviously felt pretty emotional when my boys were born, but those speeches were pretty high up there.
When I remember those speeches, I tend to think about when my own sons are getting married years from now and what I’m gonna say about each of them.
Even though my oldest son Cooper is only three and a half years old, I realize that time will eventually come. What’s incredible is that in such a short amount of time, he’s already been around for probably the biggest changes I’ve experienced in my professional and personal life – choosing to become a stay at home dad while growing my business. Cooper has been here every step of the way, and the impact he’s had on my life (and Mason too!) is more than I can put into words.
It wasn’t just the change of becoming a first-time dad that has affected me, it’s been deciding to leave my legal career to become a full-time entrepreneur. My son has been by my side through all of that.
Being a stay at home dad and online business owner has taught me a ton of valuable lessons – how to be a good husband, how to be a good dad, and how to be a good entrepreneur and employer among others. These are things I’m still learning and trying becoming better, especially as they all intersect and I try to balance them all on a daily basis.
So, when I think about the day that I’ll be the father who’s standing in front of our closest family and friends giving that speech, I can’t help but think about how lucky I am to get to do something most dads don’t get to do, which is to be home for every little new thing. I have the flexibility to be there for all of the things that most working parents miss out on – the first steps, the first words, etc.
But, working from home isn’t all sunshine and rainbows
It may sound pretty cool, but the reality is that it feels like I’m juggling two full-time jobs and really only doing a halfway decent job at both. Shout out to all those stay-at-home moms and dads out there because you guys do so much and I know you aren’t given the credit you deserve.
There is a lot that goes into raising children. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into that job. Honestly, it’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. It’s a full-time job all on its own and becomes a serious juggling act if you work from home or have a side hustle while being there for your kids.
Working from home takes structure and flexibility
To make it all work and have a decent work/life balance, you’ll need to get comfortable with this contradiction: being highly structured with your work while also allowing for flexibility.
Having a structure in your day means you organize your time so it’s used as efficiently as possible, and that can help you to feel less overwhelmed when running a business. Whereas, flexibility allows you to handle all of the random things that come up throughout the day. This could be needing to change a diaper while a client is having an emergency. It never fails…your kid WILL need a diaper change one minute before your meeting starts every single time.
Let’s talk about structure a little more
Because flexibility is something that is hard to teach, but a structure is something that you can build into your business if you sit down and put in the effort. More structure helps your business run efficiently and actually creates more freedom in your day. By putting a structure in place and knowing that certain things always happen at the same times every week, you guarantee that the essentials for your business always get done. Then the rest of your time can naturally flow and be more flexible. Some weeks you will get more done and some weeks less, depending on what goes down with the kids, but you’ll always know that at a minimum you’re going to accomplish the essential tasks required to maintain and grow your business.
I create this structure by trying to create systems around as many things as possible. This way I can break tasks down into a repeatable process that I can document and eventually delegate to somebody on my team. At the very least, I’m gonna do it the same way every time and have a general idea of how long that task is going to take me.
When you understand the time commitment it takes to complete routine business tasks, you can approach emergencies, in your business or personal life, in a way that doesn’t stress you out. If putting your child down for a nap takes a little longer than normal, you will know how to make up for that time.
Honestly, the biggest thing you need to understand about working from home is that it’s a constant negotiation, mitigating the time constraints of one task with another.
I prepare myself by creating a non-negotiable schedule that I keep for certain things.
I know I just said working from home is a negotiation, but there are still things you will have to prioritize to make sure you are getting to the most important things. For me, this means prioritizing certain dad tasks and certain work tasks.
How I make my daily schedule work
If you’re interested in seeing how I actually do it, here’s a day in the life of Mike Yanda.
Every morning looks pretty much the same. I’m waking up at about 6:30 a.m. and having a cup of coffee. On mornings that Bobby and I record our podcast, we’re doing that by 7 a.m. I like getting up to record that early because it’s the one time I can guarantee that I’m not going to have children interrupting us. This doesn’t always work, which you probably know if you’ve listened to our podcast.
Listen to How to Raise Your Kids and Grow Your Business at the Same Time, Episode 9 of the Laptop Empires podcast.
As soon as we wrap up recording, we usually spend a few minutes talking about our day to make sure we go into it with the same objectives for our business. Then I put my Dad hat on and get to work.
Mid to late morning
From 8:00 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. I am unavailable to anybody else by my kids. I am waking them up, changing diapers, getting them dressed, maybe making eggs for breakfast, then in the car to take my oldest to school.
After I’m back home from school drop off, it’s game time.
I spend about the first hour of work, from around 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., just doing busy work that doesn’t take a lot of mental energy, things I can start and stop no problem.
The main reason for this is that my youngest takes a nap every day around 11:00 a.m. without fail. He’s typically pretty content just playing before his nap while I get a little work done, but I still don’t wanna dive into anything that needs my full concentration. This is also a great time for me to schedule client meetings since Mason is pretty easy to manage at this time of day.
Once nap times starts, that’s when the real work begins. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like knowing that you’ve got just a couple of uninterrupted hours to motivate you to start working quickly and to focus on the most important tasks first. That’s really important for anyone who’s in business to focus on your most important tasks first, but it’s even more important to prioritize high-value tasks that need to get done when you’re a stay at home parent.
Too often we tend to procrastinate with busy work instead of focusing on the big projects that are really going to move the needle in your business. Knowing that I have such a limited amount of time has really taught me to prioritize, focus, and to get to work quickly so that I don’t waste any time.
I use nap time to work on my biggest projects, whether that’s working on a course, building out a new funnel for one of my businesses, or working on a big client project, like a launch. Uninterrupted time like this is so precious that if my son decides to nap longer, I’ll skip lunch to stay in the zone and keep working.
Afternoon to the end of my work day
Once my son is up, we’ll need to do lunch, and then there are usually only a couple of hours left until my wife gets home from work. I try to put a wrap on as many projects as I can for the day. I also like to use this time to check in with my team, spending time in our Facebook group helping my students, and check my email and messages. It’s not uncommon for me to be sending voices messages to my team or clients while playing with Mason. Two birds, one stone.
Once my wife picks up Cooper from school and gets home from work, I really just try to unplug for the rest of the day. This can happen anywhere between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. depending on the day. There’s usually still a little bit of communication going on with my team because they’re still working, but I really try to shift my focus to my family.
The very end of the day
My wife pretty much goes to bed when the kids do, and I’ll decide to either go to bed or work a little more. It really just depends on how much energy I have. If I have the energy, this can be when I get some of my best work done. I think this is a throwback to my law school days when I used to work for hours after my wife went to bed.
Listen to The Truth About Work/Life Balance, Episode 11 of the Laptop Empires podcast.
I want to say something about checking your emails and messages
Checking messages, Facebook notifications, and emails is something I avoid doing until later in the day, and there are a few reasons for that.
First, this is the time of day when I’m the most tired and responding to emails and things like that don’t take as much mental energy. But, I also don’t like to respond to messages and emails early in the day because when you get into a habit of doing that you often spend the rest of your day fighting fires and doing things for other people.
Now, there is nothing wrong with doing things for people, but when you’re a business owner, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of the projects that will grow your business before you start solving other people’s problems.
Think about what’s usually in an email – it’s typically someone asking you to take care of something for them. I could just ignore the request until later, but that’s not how my brain works. I like helping people and feel compelled to do so.
So, to have the most productive day possible, prioritizing high-value jobs first, I push emails off until later in the day.
Changing my mindset to become more productive
I truly believe that one of my biggest accomplishments this past year was being able to cut back on my working hours and develop a better work/life balance with my family. It did help that my son started school, but I also made a choice to become more productive.
The big thing was spending some time each night before I went to bed thinking about the most important two to three things I needed to accomplish the following day. I used to have this giant running list and every day I would just try to get as much stuff done while never feeling like I was doing enough.
The reality is that it’s more important to work on the right stuff, then to get a lot of things done.
Learning to focus on only a couple of things is really just an act of discipline – learning to prioritize, and then changing my mindset and accepting the fact that I didn’t need to do everything in one day had a big impact on both the growth of my business and my work/life balance.
Creating your own work from home life
If you’ve read this entire article and thought to yourself that working from home sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, then you’re in luck. We actually created Laptop Empires to teach others what they need to know about starting and running their own online businesses.
My favorite thing for future entrepreneurs to do is to check out the Facebook Side Hustle Course that my good friend Bobby and I created to teach you how to manage Facebook ads for local brick-and-mortar businesses. This is one of the most in-demand services right now, and it’s hands-down the most profitable side hustle that you can start in 2019.
With just one client and a few hours a week, you can earn $1,000 a month. Once you feel comfortable with that, you can choose to take on even more clients, eventually building a comfortable income while working from home full time just like I did.
So, if you’re a stay-at-home parent who wants a way to help support your family while you’re raising your kids, or you want a way to make money so that you can leave your day job to work from home one day, then I highly suggest you check out of course.
You’ll find all the information you need to know in the link right here.