3 Things to avoid while working from home with children
When you decided to quit your job and work from home in order to spend more time with your children, you may have had visions of happy, productive hours sitting at your desk with your children playing quietly with blocks or toys on the floor.
When you decided to quit your job and work from home in order to spend more time your children, you may have had visions of happy, productive hours sitting at your desk with your children playing quietly with blocks or toys on the floor of your office. You might have imagined taking quick breaks throughout the day to bake cookies or put together a puzzle with your children, after which you would retreat again to your office for a few more hours while they took naps. At the end of the work day, you would emerge from your office space, feeling successful and accomplished. After preparing a lovely dinner, you would spend the rest of the evening participating in quality family time with your husband and children. While this is a lovely picture of working from home, it is not necessarily a realistic one. Parents who work from home will confirm that the experience is not always as idyllic as it may seem. While working from a home office with children at home does indeed offer some advantages in the way of more time with children, less work expenses and more flexibility, it also presents other challenges that can be frustrating. The following suggestions will help you to avoid adding unnecessary stress that could make your work-at-home experience less than ideal.
1. Don't expect your child to be an expert receptionist
With toddlers, being what they are, you can expect your very young child to answer the phone and say something embarrassing to a client or business contact. Avoid this potential disaster by teaching young children to only answer the phone at certain times – only after dinner, for example. Older children can be instructed on proper phone etiquette; however, don’t expect they will always remember these instructions. If possible, get a separate phone line or cell phone specifically for your business. In addition to preventing awkward phone situations, this will also allow you to let it go to voice mail when you aren’t working and prevent the feeling that you are always “on call."
2. Don't pass your stress on to your kids
Try to separate work from home. It helps to set certain office hours and then be firm about leaving the office when those hours are up. Once your work hours have ended, turn your focus to your family and try to forget about work for the rest of the day or evening. Even young children can pick up on worry and stress from parents who can’t separate business from family time. If you are anxious about work issues, try not to let them bleed over into your relationship with your family.
3. Don't try to do it all
Working from home, especially with small children, can translate into more interruptions and less productivity. Get some help if you need it. Look for a good daycare or babysitter that is willing to care for your children for a few hours a day or a couple of days a week. Cutting down on stress will allow you to get more done and be a better mother to your children when you are with them. Remember that one of the reasons you decided to work from home was to be there for your children. It is hard to be a happy and loving parent when you are overwhelmed and stressed out.
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.