Working from home when you can’t actually work from home

Working from home when you can't actually work from home

Last October, we got our first au pair. It was driven by our financial situation at the time, as we could no longer afford to send our two children to nursery. It’s been wonderful having someone looking after the kids at home, and while I was in an office, it just made complete sense.

Now that I’m ‘working from home’, however, it does cause a bit of an issue, because I can’t even go for a wee on my own when the kids are about, let alone sit in front of a laptop and get some work done!

My budget is absolutely minimal at the minute, so although I could probably stretch to £3 a day to hang out in a coffee shop, I’d really prefer not to. I’m also not sure the staff would be happy for me to nurse a single cappuccino for an entire day!

There are also some wonderful sounding co-working spaces popping up, but right now, they are just not within my budget.

So, for anyone who is in the same situation, or for anyone who’s just curious, here are the things I’ve been doing to make it work:

Co-work with your freelance friends

One of my good friends works from home, just a few streets away from me. I asked if she would be up for a weekly co-working session, with us working separately but together for a morning a week, and she said it sounded like a fun idea.

After a few hours, I head home for lunch and then work at home while Theo’s at school and Beatrice is asleep. It’s nice to have someone to chat to during tea breaks, it’s been lovely to see more of her and it’s a quiet, friendly place to work each week.

I’ve also met some people who run a freelance marketing collective out of their (incredible) house in Herne Hill. A mutual friend invited me to their house for a co-working day, and it was absolutely lovely. Just a small group of people working around their big kitchen table. I have to say this was not my most productive day, because there was a lot of chat. But it was really fun, and I will definitely be going back.

Call on friends and family

My parents actually leave reasonably close by (a 40 minute bus ride, but it goes from the top of my street to the end of theirs), so I’ve been going to their house once or twice a week.

Given how close they are, we don’t otherwise spend that much time together – just 10 minutes or so when they pick the kids up (they look after them once a week). So it’s been great going over there to work. Plus there’s usually an excellent lunch on offer, so it’s definitely high on my list of favourite places to work.

If they hadn’t been close by, another woman from my neighbourhood offered me her kitchen to work in. She and her husband both work out of the home, and the kids are at nursery, so why not? Think about any friends you have nearby that would be open to you working from their home, if not your own.

Join your local library

The libraries near us have a two hour minimum use on their computers, which is very annoying as they are really quick and for some reason, I seem to be insanely productive when I work there. But the wifi is unlimited and free, and there’s no one giving you side eye for spending too long there without buying a pastry.

Explore your city

I haven’t done much of this yet, but am planning to do a lot more. There are a lot of places that are very easily accessible to where I live that I just never go to with kids, and which have great (free) working spaces. I’m hoping to check out the Southbank Centre next week and the British Library later on this month, but would love to start putting together a list and go somewhere new each month.

Any suggestions for my list? And any tips generally for freelancing when you can’t actually work from home?


Working from home when you can't work from home

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