As the work at home industry has grown over the past decade, the number of kids with parents at home has grown. This has allowed many parents (like myself) to spend more time with their children while enjoying the financial rewards that a business can provide. Even though it might seem like a good idea, it doesn’t come without its’ challenges.
One of the problems that I have been plagued with is interruptions from my children. Our children are not that old (8, 5, and 3), so they quite often barge into my office unannounced putting their needs and questions first. This has caused me to lose my train of thought and to have decreased productivity during the day. This has meant that I have had to accept that I won’t get much done during the day while they are awake and I have changed my business hours accordingly.
But if you really want to operate a business out of your home while you have children at home, consider the following five ideas to make your business and parenting a lot smoother:
1. Have an Office with a Door
One of the easiest ways to show your children that you are at “work” is have a door on your office. The reasoning behind this is that they will associate you needing to work in your office as your job, and your time outside of the office as their time. Granted, this association won’t be made overnight, but as the children grow up, they will understand that you work too and respect that space.
An added bonus to having a door on your home office is that you can separate your family life from your work. When you are done work for the day, close the office door and focus on your family – those business ideas that you have been working on can wait until tomorrow.
2. Have Set Work Hours
One of the biggest temptations that I have had working at home is that I can “go to work” whenever I want. This can be extremely convenient especially those nights where you might be suffering from insomnia, but can also blur the lines between work and family.
Typically kids understand that their parents go to work and then come home to spend time with them. By setting work hours you not only ensure that you will have some time set aside to be productive during the day, but it will also help the children understand that there is some importance to your business.
3. Work While they are Sleeping
If you are truly serious about your business it is very important to get some time where you can work without interruptions. But if your children are little, this can be very difficult as they won’t understand that you need to focus.
For me, I have found that I am most productive while my children are sleeping. This doesn’t mean that you have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning or anything like that, but it really gives you two good time slots: at night after the kids go to bed, or in the morning before they get up. Your choice will depend on whether or not you are a morning person or not – personally I work better at night.
4. Get Enough Sleep
I find that the one thing my business and kids can do to me is take away the time I need for sleep each day. A little bit here and there is ok, but the side effects from lack of sleep can affect your family life and your business. I find for myself that the less sleep I get each night, the less patience I have with my children and customers. The last thing you want to do is something that would affect those aspects of your life, so make sure that you get enough sleep.
If your children are little enough to still take naps, consider taking one yourself. This can be a great way to get an extra hour or two of sleep in each day without affecting your business hours. Don’t feel guilty that you are taking time away from the business for your nap – you’ll be more effective when you are back in the office.
5. Take a Break
The one thing that most of us entrepreneurs are guilty of is being workaholics. I know that sometimes I put in very long hours to get things done. Sure we reap what we sow, but there comes a point where there are diminishing returns – we all get tired out.
Make sure to take some time for yourself outside of the office and your family. These breaks don’t necessarily have to be very long, but they need to be time spent to recharge your batteries. It can even be as simple as going to a movie, eating out for lunch or just going for a walk. The key here is to get out of the office (you don’t want to become a hermit), see the world, and possibly get inspired. For me, it helps to recharge my creativity and patience and has a whole really benefitted me in all aspects of my life.
If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you – I don’t usually write posts this long. But the truth of the matter is that this subject is near and dear to me. Take the above ideas and apply them to your life and situation and I assure you that your life and business will be much better and more rewarding as a result.