Working from home has definite benefits, especially if you have pre-school children and would like to be home with them during the day. Parents who work from home have greater flexibility in their work hours, can take breaks to play with the kids and don’t have the added expenses of travel, day care and other work-related expenses. However, working from home has its own unique challenges and frustrations, as well. It often brings with it added interruptions, less productivity and a greater tendency to mix work stresses with family life. The following tips will help you to make working at home with kids a less stressful and more rewarding experience.
1. Keep a second computer for the kids
This will cut down on begging and whining to use yours. Load the kids’ computer with educational software so that they can “work” with you when you need to get some work done.
2. Let your kids help when they can
Children 5 and older can do simple business tasks such as filing, stuffing envelopes, sending faxes and sorting mail. This will allow the kids to feel that they’re contributing to the household. As they get older they will be able to take on more complex tasks that can save you time and money.
3. Install a separate phone line or use a separate cell phone for your business
This will prevent missed business calls and children answering the phone inappropriately. A separate line will also make it easier for you to let things go when your workday is finished by letting the phone go to voicemail or the answering machine.
4. Establish clear-cut business hours
This is good for both you and your family. During work hours you will be able to give your full attention to clients, while during your non-work hours you can focus completely on family. Ending the workday at a certain time every day will prevent you from letting your work creep into family time. You will be able to relax and enjoy your children more if you have set specific work hours because once those hours are over, you are finished regardless of how much work you have completed. Your children will also be able to count on your full attention during non-work hours and will feel loved and important.
5. Get a child's desk in your office
Stock it with supplies such as pens, pencils, Post-it notes, business card, envelopes and whatever other fun items your kids might like. Your children can sit and “play office” while you work. Kids love to emulate their parents, and this is a great way for your kids to be involved in what you are doing while they keep busy with their own activities.
6. Designate your office space from your home area
This will help keep work and family separate. If possible, install double glass doors so that you can keep an eye on your children while working. If your office is in a remote area of the house, use an intercom or old baby monitor to communicate with your children while they are in other parts of the house.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.