Children in the home business environment
Operating a home business is seldom easy and interruptions come in all shapes, sizes and forms.
Between the family, friends and neighbours who call or come by, and the telemarketers who insist on ringing your number off the hook, getting through the workday can be a real challenge.
When you introduce children into the home office environment, your productivity and patience can be seriously tested.
For example, right now my three-year old daughter is pulling on my shirt and begging me to read her a story. Clearly, I’m in the middle of something important here, but how can I say no to those eyes? I’ll be right back...
Ok, that wasn’t so bad was it? She’s happy, I’m happy (having bonded with my daughter) and now I’m back to continue my conversation with you :-). What’s the lesson here? Flexibility is a major key to balancing your home business priorities with your family’s needs.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that maintaining a deep level of concentration on work in a home business for long periods of time is next to impossible. Naptime does offer some reprieve, but any break from the kids is usually short lived.
Even with older children, summertime introduces new challenges with kids running in and out of the house all throughout the day.
I would like to share with you some of the tips I have discovered to help manage your home office with children in your midst. Since children of different ages pose different challenges, I will present my tips in terms of age groups.
Older Children and Teens
We will look at older children first since they pose the least challenge to our work productivity.
Children, who are old enough to understand the idea of schedules and chores, are old enough to understand the needs of your home business. Explain to your children that you do your work at home so that you can be near them when they need you. But also be sure they understand that you must do your work so that you will have the money necessary to keep your house, feed the family and to provide them with money for entertainment.
Once your children understand the necessity of your work, then outline a work schedule and explain it to them. Do make sure they understand that emergencies are definitely an acceptable reason to interrupt your work. Then make sure they understand that between hours x and y, you will be doing work and then hold them to respecting your schedule.
Infants will never understand your needs for work. But fortunately, babies do well under a schedule or routine. Instead of expecting your child to work around your schedule, schedule your work around the needs of your baby.
It is simple. Babies eat, sleep and poop. Sometimes they play. Fortunately, babies sleep more than they do anything else.
Naptime offers the best advantage for getting your work done. Get your baby into a routine of eat, sleep and play, and you will experience unexpected levels of productivity.
If you have a toddler running around the house while you are operating your home business, then you may find that your hair turning gray or disappearing altogether. But, gray hair is a sign of character, right. ;-)
I am venturing to guess that the person who devised the door lock for the inside of the house did so because he had toddlers in his own home. Inside door locks should only be utilised when you are making that important phone call and your toddler is screaming for your attention. At all other times, your door should remain unlocked with your door open.
Develop a routine with your children for meal times, naptimes, and play times. Work these times into your work schedule and adhere to them. If you fail to keep appointments with your children, your children will have less respect for your work and do more to prevent you from the completion of your work.
Don't be afraid to let your children sit in your lap while you are working. It helps them to feel wanted and it helps them to be a part of your daily life. There are times when it is okay for them to be sitting in your lap while you work, and at other times you need them out of your lap. Don't be afraid to tell them to get down and go play or read a book so that you can resume your work.
Permit your children to have their toys in your office. Often they will sit contently and play while you work. Just knowing you are near is enough to keep them happy.
Be prepared to take an hourly break to deal with your toddler. Try to do potty breaks at your hourly break and to do drink refills. This can help your child grow into a routine that will work well with your home business. At each break, spend a few minutes with your child giving hugs and kisses and talking with your child about what he or she wants to talk about.
Toddlers don't always do well with the routine, so be prepared to take a few minutes when needed to give the attention that your child so desperately needs in the moment.
I hope these tips serve to help you in the challenge of operating a successful home business.
My home business permits me to fulfil my financial obligations and see my children grow up. I would never contemplate trading my home business for another kind of business. Even with the added challenges of dealing with toddlers in my home office, the upsides far outweigh the downsides.
Growing my own home business with children around has definitely given me a new respect for all people who successfully run a home business with kids in the work environment. I tip my hat to you... You deserve it!
- Stone Evans