Working from home with kids in the house can be a double-edged sword scenario. On the one hand, it can allow you greater schedule flexibility and parental availability. For instance, a standard nine-to-five job might not let you attend your son’s weekly soccer games that begin at four each Thursday afternoon.
When you have a home office, though, deadlines and conference calls can be tailored to fit game day needs. On the other hand, that same standard nine-to-five job typically prevents meeting interruptions from a sobbing five-year-old with a stubbed toe. When you work from home, your kids may not understand that mommy can’t be disturbed while “at the office.”
That’s not to say, though, that you can’t have a smooth-running home-based business with little ones running around. By keeping in mind the following guidelines, you can enjoy both work and family life without ever having to leave the house.
Make Your Work Space A No-Play Zone
Central to having a productive office is setting boundaries regarding where your business resides in the home. Having a room dedicated only to your business dealings can make it considerably easier when instructing your kids not to trespass. Of course, it’s not always possible to convert an extra bedroom or basement into a single-use space as your home office.
No matter if you have four walls for your business or merely a corner of a bedroom, make it crystal clear to your children that they are not to intrude upon your office regardless of work hours. You may wonder what’s the harm in letting your kids use your computer once you’ve shut down for the day, but consider how you’ll feel the following morning when they’ve left soda rings on your paperwork or deleted the spreadsheet you worked on all day the day before.
Create A Realistic Work Schedule
You might decide to begin your workday at 6 a.m. each day, but if you have school age kids, you may find your mornings a bit hectic as your children get dressed, eat breakfast, and try to catch the bus.
Instead of trying to power through those distractions, it may benefit you to take a mid-morning break to see your kids off to school before settling back into your workday. The same holds true for when your children come home from school.
Giving yourself an hour to catch up on their news and make them a snack can get them settled in for the next few hours while you finish up your work tasks.
Establish Rules About Your Workday Availability
If your children are still too young to be in school, they may not understand your need for eight hours of solitude. Of course, if you have toddlers, they still require constant care whether it’s from you or another qualified adult.
If you plan to get any work done during the day, you should consider hiring an in-home nanny to look after your children while you attend to your professional responsibilities. Even when you have someone to watch over your children, though, odds are they might still want mommy to put them down for a nap or heal a boo-boo. That’s why it’s essential to determine ahead of time what constitutes a legitimate interruption when you’re at work.
Discuss your preferences with your nanny so that she knows how to handle a situation as it arises. Though your child may want you to serve her lunch, if your nanny knows that she is solely responsible for mealtimes, you can avoid unnecessary disruptions. Your child may baulk the first few times that you aren’t there to provide her sandwich and milk, but she’ll adjust to your workday schedule and let you attend to your job without worry.
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Image Credit: Ryan Zwigenberg