Owning your own home-based or other small business, business opportunity or franchise can be a hugely rewarding experience. But it’s also a lot of hard work and can present its own set of challenges, especially for parents who have young children.
Any parent who has tried to work from home with kids can tell you that if you think you can do justice to both your work and your children at the same time, you’re only kidding yourself. Sure you can use movies and television shows or even audio books in a pinch with little ones, but those strategies will only take you so far before they get bored and you’re pulling your hair out.
The fact is that you’ve got to have a plan in place for how your kids will be at the very least occupied or even supervised while you are getting your job done. Maybe it’s preschool, a mom’s morning out program at the local church, a babysitter or nanny, or even a generous family member that can help you out a day or two each week. A number of pretty ingenious work-at-home parents are even creating co-ops to swap kids on various days, which can really be a win-win for everyone involved.
Bottom line, you’d do well to take a lesson from the thousands of parents who have tried it and learned the hard way…
Not having a plan for how you can get your kids needs met while you’re working from home is a recipe for failure on every level.
Okay, now that the most important point on the issue of working from home with kids has been made, here are some additional tips and tricks that most work-at-home parents have used at one time or another to maintain their productivity as well as their sanity:
Establish Your Space
It’s very important to set aside an area of your home that is dedicated for work purposes only. It will help your kids to understand that when mom or dad is holed up in that space, his or her attention needs to be on the task at hand and not on whether or not they are bored or hungry. And while your work space will be for the most part off limits to little eyes and hands, it’s never a bad idea to childproof it just like you would any other part of the house.
Maintain a Regular Schedule
The faster you can establish a routine for yourself and your kids once you’ve made the decision to work from home the better. Kids flourish with consistency, and your business will too.
Set Clear Boundaries
A big part of working from home is learning how to manage interruptions and minimize distractions. Kids are pros on both fronts. Your kids need to know that there is a time to work and a time to play. After all, that’s life isn’t it? And although some amount of flexibility is crucial to being successful when working from home, you can set clear boundaries that support your daily, weekly and even monthly routine. For instance, you may want to start by telling family members and friends that you don’t take personal calls or answer the door between certain hours on given days. Or, try posting a sign that the kids are napping so that you can make the most of that time to get something done without someone popping in. And it’s never a bad idea to give your kids a set time when mom or dad will be available to play for an hour, just so that they have something to look forward to while you are other directed.
Invest in Technology to Maximize Productivity
Let’s face it, in today’s world you’ve got to be able to get the job done anywhere and everywhere. And sometimes the best way to be productive if you work from home and you have someone to watch your kids is to grab a change of scenery and get out of the house. So make sure you can invest in the technological resources that will maximize your flexibility from the get go.
Keep It Simple and Stay Organized
One of the keys to building a successful business of any kind, but especially one that you run from home, is to stay organized. And one of the easiest ways to stay organized is by keeping things as simple as possible. A well-maintained calendar that clearly delineates your professional and personal responsibilities will ensure everything is separate and yet also in synch. Organize your home office and your living space so that you know where things are at a moment’s notice.
Working is stressful. Parenting is stressful. Both of these roles that you play are important. And the only constant in any of it, as is true of life in general, is change. Be realistic in your expectations of yourself as well as your kids. Try not to lose your temper when you’re stressed and they want your undivided attention. That’s their job; they’re kids. If you do get frustrated and lose it a little bit, that’s not optimal but it is okay. Cut yourself some slack. This stuff is not easy for anyone. However, you’ve got to take some time to figure out what you can do differently to ensure the mistakes you will inevitably make along the way don’t happen again and again. So get a reality check when you need one and recognize that the change you may need in order to make things work is oftentimes yours to make.