One of the greatest challenges faced by parents who run a business from home is achieving a balance between work and parenting. We want the best for our children, of course, but any job or business requires dedication too. The thought of doing it all can make our heads spin, but fear not! Working from home can be bliss, if you follow a few rules.
Banish Guilt. When mother is happy, kids are happy. A contented and fulfilled mother, whether she is employed or not, tends to have healthier kids who cope well with stress and do better in academic tests. So, if you’re doing work that brings you happiness or makes you feel more financially secure, give yourself ten parenting points.
Eat Breakfast. Sit down with your family in the morning and eat. A healthy breakfast sets a good example to your children and gives you the get-up-and-go you need to get a morning’s work in. If you wait until later, you will either cut into your work time staring into the fridge or forget entirely until you’re passing out in the line at the bank. Plus, studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast burn more calories during the day and are healthier and more fabulous!
Get Dressed. Slouching around in your jammies is bliss, but trust me. You’ll work more efficiently if you brush your teeth and put your grownup trousers on. If your work is messy, cover up. If safety wear is needed, do wear it.
Master The Telephone. If your children are very little, make sure you have a good answering machine, and let it pick up. Nothing makes you sound less professional than having to stop in mid sentence to yell “DO NOT put that in your brother’s nose YOUNG MAN!” With older kids, develop a ‘Work Call’ signal. For my boys, I explained that sometimes, a phone call would be important and they should be as quiet and good as mice, if I snapped my fingers. This, amazingly, worked! Thank your children profusely if they do respect your business phone time. And try to keep these calls short: it’s better to say “Sorry I can’t talk more right now, I will get back to you,” than have bored children deciding that enough is enough!
Limit Distractions. If you work on the computer, consider using a different browser or different user screen when you are working, one that doesn’t have your personal email or social sites logged in. It’s a good idea to have all of your work-related computer bookmarks and documents separate from personal and family ones. If you work at a craft, set aside a space (or a room, if you can) for work only. It is easy to spend hours procrastinating, and put off the job till the very last minute, if you’re not careful.
Stop. It’s tempting to spend your whole life working, creating, checking your email, thinking about your next meeting or idea and making phone calls, especially in the early months of building a business, but remember that your family needs your attention too. Plan on not thinking about work after a certain hour at night, and get enough sleep so that you can be organized and on the ball tomorrow. Switch off the computer, switch on the answer phone, put your messy-play clothes on. Take the family to the park, for some restoring exercise and oxygen to the brain! You may keep a notebook in your pocket to jot down ideas for tackling during your next work session (some of us can never completely switch off). When you do return to work, you will be refreshed and ready to tackle anything!
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