If you are a parent with a business you run from home, you may be wondering how to do it successfully with kids.
Whilst it can definitely be a challenge, you can certainly do it successfully if you plan it and think it through.
Consider if you were working in a 9 to 5 job. You would need to have very clear routines in place, including childcare arrangements – which may be formalised childcare, or informal through family and friends. Either way, you must have childcare in place and you are forced into a routine for both yourself and your kids.
Routine is key
Working from home is no different from the perspective of needing a routine. Routine for kids is so important, and for yourself. Kids like routine, and by having a good routine in place you’ll find yourself more productive. Be very clear about the routine with your kids and they will have an understanding of what to expect and when.
For example, if you were to let your kids know that between 2pm and 4pm is work time for mum or dad, and you should only be interrupted for emergencies, you will find that you will not be interrupted as often.
You might also even consider a kids daily routine checklist that you put up on the wall so that everyone in the family knows what’s on for the day. If you make it visual and encourage the kids to help make up the routine checklist it will become a normal part of their day and they will feel ownership of what’s happening.
If you set a routine it’s important that you stick to it, otherwise it is meaningless.
Include the kids within the routine. This could mean having breakfast together, going to the park together, helping with homework, having dinner together, reading a bedtime story. This is the important stuff. Your kids need this time and it’s important for you to remember at the end of the day WHY you even have your business – presumably it’s to build a good life for you and your kids.
You can’t spend every waking moment working on your business. Scheduling regular time with your kids will help you to not become obsessed with the tasks and demands required of your home business.
If you have a work at home business with kids and you need to dedicate full time hours to the business, then you seriously need to consider using childcare. Whilst you may not want to, and it may be expensive, you need to consider how fair you are being to your children if you are working full time on your business. You will need to work out how much time you can actually work at home with your children around, and how much childcare they will need.
However, there are many parents who restrict their work to when their kids are at school, or when they are in bed, and if that works for you that’s OK.
If you are needing a few extra hours of working time, then really consider organising childcare for a few hours a week, or a few days a week. If you are disciplined you can squeeze a LOT into a few hours, so capitalise on those hours of childcare and with any luck you can keep it to a minimum.
If you have a partner you may need to tag team on who works and who looks after the kids at certain times. Again, build that into the routine so that it’s predictable for everyone.
Another option might be to trade childcare with other parents if you possibly can. Then the kids get to play with friends, you are being helped at certain times, and you are returning the favour. It is certainly worth putting it out there to other parents, because they are likely in the same situation as you are.
I often squeeze in additional work hours when my kids are doing after school activities (I am writing this article while my kids are having a trampolining lesson!!). If your kids are really active like mine are you will have hours upon hours of time to work if your business only requires you to have a laptop and a wifi connection.
Set up some ground rules with the kids
It’s important to make the kids aware that your job is at home and let them know of any requirements of them associated with that.
If your business is online it is easier, and the rules may simply be that your kids are not allowed to play in the office (if you are lucky enough to have your own office from home), or to touch computers and screens.
If your home business involves receiving telephone calls, you may need to request that they leave answering the phone to you. Or you can teach them how to answer the phone appropriately. The same goes for answering the door if you have clients visiting you at home.
Regardless of the type of home business, it is important that your children are aware of when you are working, and when you can be interrupted. This is a must or you will continually be interrupted and your kids will be disappointed. If they are aware upfront of your work times they will be happier too.
Find ways to combine your career from home with your kids
If your business is online, it isn’t too difficult to combine your kids with your job because you can take your laptop with you while the kids do their activities.
If you have clients visiting your home and you know them well enough, you can suggest that they bring their kids too. They might even appreciate the gesture.
If you are out and about with your business, take the kids with you on errands and involve them in what you are doing and why. They will love to feel like a part of what you are doing.
Be kind to yourself
We are all human and don’t get everything right 100% of the time. We are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.
Remember that there are people who work in an office or away from home 9 to 5 (and much longer) who need to commute to work everyday, whose kids are in full time care. We are all doing what we need to do to look after our families the ways we know how. So don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you have to ask your kids for some time to focus on work while they play or watch TV.
If you are yet to establish your online business from home and are still just thinking about it, find out more about how you can set yourself up for a long term and sustainable career from the comfort of your home:
How do you run a successful business at home with kids? Leave me a comment or question below and I’m happy to help.