From the January 2002 issue of Startups

Q: What tips do you have for balancing a homebased business with a 2-year-old at your heels? She's in a preschool/day care a few days a week, but it's still a challenge.

A: Balance means more time for you to use for your work and yourself. So how can you be relieved of some of the burden of taking care of your 2-year old? Since the best choice is usually to get some more help, here are some ideas:

  • Unless you're a single parent, ask yourself, "Is Dad doing all he can?" Have you divided both child care and housework in your household following traditional gender-defined roles? If so, might you and he redefine them so you get some relief? Might he change his hours or even his shift? Are there other adults in the family-aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents-who can provide some child-care help?
  • While you may not want to have your 2-year-old spending more time in day care, you might have a baby-sitter or nanny come in to your home. Arguably, if you can earn more by virtue of being able to work uninterrupted, having a sitter may pay for itself.
  • Consider collaborating with parents in the same boat. You may have a friend who might be happy to trade baby-sitting, or you might join a child-care co-op.
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Here are some Web sites focused on supporting parents who work at home:

If you can't get help from someone else, how about using a portable divider that you can put up in doorways or take down as needed? You and your child can still see each other. Or consider what one mother did when she wanted to be able to see what her young children were doing. She had a 3-foot wall constructed in her basement that divided her office area from the play area.

As we stress in Working From Home, "child-proof" your office instead of "office-proofing" your child. Put things that children might hurt themselves on or break out-of-reach, even locating your office in a separate, less accessible place in your home, such as in the basement or the attic.


Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way. Send them your start-up questions at www.workingfromhome.com or through us at Entrepreneur.