Although Dolores McCrorey's daughter Elizabeth is now 19-years-old, McCrorey recalls very well her experiences when Elizabeth was much younger. "When my daughter was six, she thought it great fun to be able to 'share' in conversations I had with clients on the phone," reminisces McCrorey, founder of Risktaking for Success LLC, a Santa Clara, California-based risk and innovation coaching and consulting firm. "The speaker phone held the most interest for her. [I would] take notes while she played quietly at my feet. Questions from the client never failed to get her attention. One time, one of my more vocal clients, who was in the middle of sharing her displeasure with the project's direction, piqued my daughter's curiosity. She stood tippy toe to the phone and stated matter-of-factly, 'My mommy doesn't like you either.' "
As Elizabeth grew from babyhood to adulthood, McCrorey developed different strategies for "childproofing" her office. One of her most useful methods was establishing clear boundaries with 'office hours' and official 'break times' when she and her daughter would take a walk, play together, go to the park or get an ice cream. By helping her daughter understand the distinction between work time and play time, McCrorey taught Elizabeth "to learn respect for my work and for one another's private times." The confirmation that Elizabeth had absorbed the lesson came when she began putting 'visiting hours' on her bedroom door. Touché.
One way that McCrorey helped Elizabeth feel as if she was involved in her mother's work was to create a color-coded "cheat sheet" for Elizabeth that allowed her to play grown-up businesswoman. Anything with a red tag meant hands-off. "I made it a game by putting fun stickers on items that I purposely set up for her to touch," says McCrorey. "This allowed my daughter to see that mommy working from home could also be fun."
Through the years, McCrorey says her key concern has been that of safety. "I've taken great pains to ensure that my home office is safety-proofed for my daughter (and now a dog as well)," says McCrorey. "This includes the obvious, such as electrical outlets and computer wiring, to the not-so-obvious, like books piled high on a file cabinet or sharp edges associated with everyday business tools. I crawled on all fours looking for things that might hurt my daughter (or myself), and might hurt my business."
Establish clear boundaries between "work" and