Sorry About the Noise
"Sorry about the noise, the business daycare is located right beside my office!" Have you ever used that line? Or wished you could. Why is it that every time the business line rings the kids need mommy?
Welcome to the life of a work-at-home mom. We go about our work a little differently than some women but we still do it. Are we as professional? Are we as effective? You bet we are. As any parent knows, parenting is a full-time job. But many of us also work; and some of us work from home. We often choose to work from home so that we can spend more time with our families, and it usually works. It does not come easy and sometimes the two start to blend and cross lines and neither is done effectively.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to prevent the overlap:
Unique Time Slots: Family and work can mix at times but make sure you have solo time for each. There are business meetings, phone calls or paperwork that cannot be interrupted by, "Momeee.” There are also family nights, meals or cuddles that cannot be interrupted by a business call.
Schedule: Set a work schedule – it can be work 8 to 10, 2 to 4, and 8 to 10 again or working mornings or evenings – and stick to it. This schedule can adjust to the schedules of your home. Make phone calls when smaller children are sleeping or older ones are at school. Attend meetings when the kids are at school or in programs. Do your paperwork every Tuesday when your spouse works late. When you work from home it is easy to be working from when you wake up until you go to sleep. Don't run down to check email one more time or do a quick thing – unless absolutely necessary.
Share Your Business: Teach your family about your business. Make everyone feel that they are a part of it. When my son was three, he was my business partner and has his own business cards – his charm clinched a few deals! My daughter is going to own a business when she grows up (and be a princess). Give them small tasks to do for you. If the family feels a part of it, they won't resent it when mom is doing her work or making her phone calls. As your children get older their involvement can increase. They will feel a sense of pride in their work, make some extra money and you will have an extra set of hands.
Have a Plan: Sometimes, even with time slots and a schedule something will happen. Make sure you have a plan. I have held business meetings at a restaurant with a play area. I have friends and childcare I can call. Others have a box of different toys or treats that can be pulled out as a distraction. Have a business-on-the-go pack that you can take with you so you can work on the go. Writing while at a hockey game, making phone calls in the dance waiting room, or seating your teens at a different table at a coffee shop are other solutions.
Create Systems: Create different systems for you and your family to use. Use a signal such as holding your hand in the air to signal it is a business call and the kids need to wait. Create a mini office with similar items for the younger children to play at when you are working.
Keep Organized: One of the major keys to juggling family and work in the home is to stay organized. Time is very precious; don't waste it looking for things. Use one planning system/calendar for both personal and business commitments so you don't miss something. Organize your time, your things, and your family. It is worth taking 15 minutes a day to stay organized. You will find that time back and more.
Work and families do work, but always remember your ‘why.’ Why have you chosen to work from home? If you have days where the business and family overlap and you feel like you are losing control, stop and remember why you decided to work from home. Was it to be with the kids? Was it to have more control? Was it to run a business? Think about your why, re-focus, and put one foot forward and get things back on the right track.
At the end of the day, most of us are working from home to have more time with our families so make sure to enjoy it. I once had a week where things weren't going right but as I sat and watched my son in his swimming lessons and got to volunteer at my daughter's school, I remembered my ‘why.’ I felt great; my family felt good; and the week turned around!
Tracy Lyn is one of Canada’s life management experts, spokesperson for SC Johnson®, Fisher Price®, ClubMom® and Coke® parenting expert and author of Mom Management. Visit TracyLynMoland.com for more details.