So, you decided to work at home because you want more time with your children, but it’s not as easy as you thought it might be. Everyone is telling you that you are crazy – that you cannot work and parent at the same time. You are afraid that you will not be able to give proper attention to your work and that your children will feel neglected.
Let’s face it. There are no easy choices for moms who work, but mothering and managing working at home is possible and could be the best way for you to manage your multiple priorities.
It’s easy to put your child in front of the TV to watch Sesame Street, or hand him a tablet to play educational games. We all have done that.
These are 10 suggestions concentrate more on attitude and lifestyle choices you can make to make your life easier while you work:
1. Begin a work routine. Begin a work routine as soon as possible after your baby is born. Even if you don’t have a business yet, spend time reading, typing on your computer and talking on the telephone during set work hours each day. Children accept what they are used to and if they see you working from a young age, they will be more likely to accept it as part of their day. Working at the same time each day will help work become part of your daily routine. Keep work sessions short at first and extend them as your children get older and more self-sufficient. If possible, work first thing in the morning, and during nap or sleep times. Schedule child-centered activities right after work periods.
2. Let it ring. If possible, schedule business calls for nap time or when you have help. If you get a lot of business calls, Install a business telephone with voice mail or create a special ringtone to identify business calls on your smart phone. Business phones need to be answered in a professional manner. There is nothing worse than screaming kids or a mother screaming at her children to be quiet during a telephone call. Even if you are calmly explaining why your child has to wait, don’t do it while someone listens on the other end of the telephone. Do not answer calls during times you are spending with your children. When there is too much household noise or distractions let the voice mail take your messages or begin a text conversation if you can. Return calls when the house is quiet and under control. If you are speaking on the telephone and an interruption happens, put the call on hold or mute while you solve the problem.
3. Be consistent. Be consistent and stop problems before they start. Gentle rules for work times are appropriate and necessary. An infant’s needs must be met immediately, but even slightly older children need to know that you don’t always get what you want at the exact time you want it. Make sure your business phone looks very different from your home phone so that when your children see that phone to your ear they will know that you should not be interrupted. Before you make or take a telephone call, try to make an announcement: “Mommy will be on the phone for a few minutes. Please – no yelling and no interruptions.” Teach your children which things they can and cannot touch in your office. Create rules that are fair and enforced. Don’t wait for bad behavior. Let your children know what type of behavior you expect to help prevent problems. When your children know you mean business, they will cooperate.
4. Don’t lock yourself away. Let your children see you working and assure them that you are available for short interruptions. Schedule work that requires quiet and complete concentration for times when your children are asleep. If you integrate your business into your home life, you will be able to “hang out” with your kids while you work. It may not be quality time, but sometimes the quantity of the time you spend with your children is just as important.
5. Choose work that you can start and stop. If your work requires daily deadlines or constant telephone conversations, you will need to have child care either within your home or outside. If you can take mini breaks to dress a doll, give a hug or help start a new activity, your children will feel like you are accessible but busy. Why work at home if you cannot take time out to soothe a sick child or even take a day off once in a while?
6. Make your work area special. Make your work area special for your children. A playpen full of toys that can only be played with in the office or a drawer that is just theirs and filled with surprises can help keep your child occupied but close to you. A miniature of your desk with a real phone, toy typewriter and junk mail can make a preschooler feel special. A TV, DVD player, and tablet computer with special programs that can only be viewed while you work can always save the day.
7. Encourage supervised independence. Children must learn independence, but the children of a homeworking mom can learn to be independent under watchful eyes. Set-up your home so that it is possible for little ones to get their own drinks, make a sandwich, baby sit for a younger sibling or wash some unbreakable dishes. They will develop a feeling a accomplishment and you will be able to get a little more work done.
8. Take your work with you. It’s a beautiful day and you want to go to the park. Keep a basket or briefcase filled with work that you can take to the playground or even your backyard so that your kids can play while you are there to oversee their activities. Smart phones, tablets, and laptop computers allow you the luxury of a virtual office. Take advantage of these working wonders and work while you are on the go. Here’s one idea: Go to FreeKindlesToday.com each day and find free business and lifestyle kindle ebooks to read on the go. You don’t need a kindle reader. Just download the Amazon.com app from the sidebar while you are there.
9. Busy hands, happy hearts. If you are doing work that does not take much concentration but does keep your hands busy, use that time to sing to your baby, talk to your toddler or help with school work. Eventually, your kids can help you and you can all sit around a table and work while you interact -similar to the way quilters work and socialize at the same time.
10. Involve your children in your business. It is always easier to accept what you understand. As soon as your children are old enough, explain what you are doing and encourage their involvement. For example, let your toddler turn on your computer each day. As your children grow, they will learn how to use your equipment and begin to absorb business principles which will help them throughout their lives. When you have success, share it with them and let them choose a new toy or go out and celebrate in a special restaurant. If your children can see tangible benefits, they will want you to succeed at your work.