When you’re a work-at-home mom, you won’t get far unless you keep a firm line between your business and what your family and kids demand from you. Kids tend to take up much of your personal and professional time. You could, of course, wait for them to mature a bit, so they’d need you less, but that could take years. It’s better to apply a few strategies that work for managing your home-run business and your kids.
Use a separate phone for your business. When you already have a phone in the house, why get another line for your business, right? This seemingly cost-saving tactic backfires: sometimes a family member takes a call from a client and discloses a somewhat different arrangement from what was agreed upon earlier. What’s worse is that time when you resent your kids for taking up so much time on the phone when you clearly need it. Unless your kids become aware of your business motives and maturely accept them, you’d do better to get another phone line.
Hire someone to watch your kids. When your income is strong enough to get a babysitter, it’s usually best to do so. With someone else managing the kids, the mental space and emotional energy freed up can be dedicated to growing your business.
Have a ‘semi-isolated’ place at home you can call your office. This could be a corner in your kitchen, or a separate small room you can lock yourself into. Having a place where you can post notes and plan and work keeps you focused; it tells your psyche that when you’re there, the business is all there is. So it’s best to train your kids to handle their chores on their own, so you get more time in your office space. Also, they’ll have to get used to not disturbing you during your office ‘hours’, which are generally more flexible for the home business owner.
Take short naps. One good thing about working at home is exactly that. When you get tired or unfocused, you can take a nap to get recharged. When you train your kids to take short naps, you can take a nap with them knowing that there’s little else to worry about but getting a little rest. In fact, many business owners come up with some of their best ideas either during or just after an afternoon nap. Rest well, and get inspired!
Let your kids see you work. One way to teach them to give you ‘room’ for your business is to let them see you work. This could get bothersome at first, especially when your kids are young and want your attention. Over time, they could get used to doing their homework in a corner in your office. The more they hear you talk to clients over the phone, the more clues they get about your having time to work. Soon they’ll learn to keep to themselves when you’re on the phone with clients or busy typing away on an important email or web project.
Meet your clients outside the house. Few things are more common these days than having a meeting at a local coffee shop to discuss business. The advantage of this is two-fold: you won’t get disturbed by domestic worries, and your client sees you as a responsible worker (one who doesn’t insist on juggling his concerns with your family life). Plus, leaving the home for a little while is a great refresher and another way to recharge!
There are many life-liberating advantages to working from home for you and your family, but be sure to follow some of these guidelines if you want to keep your sanity, and have the good fortune of long-term success in your home business.