Keep Kids and Work from Colliding
As a mom or dad who runs a business from home, scheduling can be tricky when kids aren't in school. Whether your children are too young for school or are teenagers home for the summer, a work-from-home parent has to make sure the children are being taken care of and not getting into trouble. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:
- Work while they sleep. Get in a couple of work hours before the kids even roll out of bed, or use nap time with younger children. "My 1-year-old sleeps anywhere from one to three hours every afternoon," says Sarah, a freelance writer. "It's nice having that time to finish a short article without having to 'clock in' while I'm taking care of her."
- Go in shifts. If you have a spouse who also works, trade off working hours. If your wife comes home at 5 p.m., shut your office doors after dinner and work for the evening. Work whenever your partner isn't.
- Hire a baby sitter. For kids young enough to need one, a baby sitter can come over and play with them for a few hours and even get them out of the house to burn energy at the park.
- Trade baby sitting or other services. This worked great for Dianne, a financial advisor/tax preparer in Wyoming, whose kids are now grown. "I found a friend who did a baby sitting-for-piano-lessons swap when my kids were 1 and 2 years old. I taught four of her kids piano and she watched my children for 25 hours a week, which allowed me to add more hours to my work week," Dianne says.
- Take advantage of camps. They can be fun for the kids and increase productivity time for you. Even if it's just a day camp at the local zoo, it can really help when you've got a deadline to meet. "I have found camps to be an excellent option," says Jessica, a virtual assistant in Wisconsin. She mixes things up by sending her 5-year-old to two different part-time camps each day.
- Use the YMCA, recreation center or public library. Your kids need to be old enough, but you may be able to drop them off for a couple hours of swimming or a crafts class. Libraries, especially, offer many free activities.
- Look for employment for your kids. Some places, with limitations, will hire young teens. Or they can mow lawns, wash cars, walk dogs, etc. Pass on the entrepreneurial spirit.
Along with the methods you use to entertain and provide care for your children, it'll help to have the home necessities wrapped up before you begin your work. "Having things like house chores or grocery shopping planned or finished when I sat down at my desk allowed me to be more flexible and less frustrated when my kids had needs," Dianne says. Plan your schedule as well as you can: Then take it one day at a time.