A lot of people ask me how I can work at home with a child. I have an eight year-old son, and when summertime comes he’s here “at the office” with me every day. When my son is here, I have to be more on my game, because he is demanding of my time just like my clients are. So, just like I give time and energy to my clients during the day, I need to give time and energy to him. Of course, because he’s eight, he realizes that mom is working, so he lets me be when I make calls or am working on a task. But as soon as I’m on break, he knows that’s his time and we goof off, play games, etc.
When he goes back to school, I actually feel a bit lazier, because I have the whole day to myself and I think I tend to slack a bit more knowing I have “extra” time. If you’re thinking of trying your hand working from home or have just started out and are having a tough time syncing work time with kid time, here are some tips that can help.
Wake up early –Now, I was never one to be an early riser. I used to schedule my college classes to start at 11am at the earliest! But now I see the benefit of waking up early and getting to work. My husband leaves for work at 5:30am. If I get up when he leaves, that gives me 90 minutes to do whatever it is I need to do before my son is up. It’s surprising how much work I get done in the first, early hour or two of the day. Client work, house work, Your Gal Friday work. Some days I feel I do more at this time than I do all day.
Discuss work rules with your kids – With older kids, you can easily set ground rules for working at home. Please don’t disturb me when I’m on the phone. No playing in the office. Mom’s laptop is not your personal toy. I know you can’t give boundaries such as these to a two year-old, but if you set up a nice routine of work, play, quiet time, noisy time, they’ll begin to understand and work with you.
Make sure your kids have things to do – Your work keeps you busy, but what are they doing during the summer? It can’t all be about video games and TV shows. Make sure they have scheduled time to go to a friend’s house. Let them run around in the back yard with sprinklers or other yard fun –grab your laptop and work outside while they’re out there to keep an eye on them. Have engaging toys and projects for them. Art kits, Legos, modeling clay, musical instruments. For older kids, bring your laptop to the kitchen table and supervise as they prepare a simple recipe. Let them have friends over. Once, my niece came over to play with my son and they spent hours out on the back deck creating a massive Lego world. Kids just want something to do, all of the time.
Make time for your kids – Work will always be there. Time with your kids is fleeting. Remember to take a break during the day and have some fun with your kids. PLAY! You’ll feel better, more relaxed, and actually be more focused when you return to work.
And now it’s time to play some Pokemon…
Sometimes a client will ask me to do something, and then he’ll say “I know it’s not much,” or “it’s really boring stuff to do – I’m sorry.” And my reply is “no problem.” Because really, it’s not.
Over the course of years I’ve been working, I’ve always been amazed when I come across people who have a list of what they will and will not do at a job. I’m not talking about what they can and cannot do. If you ask me to do sales calls, I’ll tell you no – not because I won’t do it, but because I can’t – I’m horrible at it and you’d be better off burning your money than paying me to do it. I’m talking about people who refuse to do work because they feel it is beneath them in some way.
Once I was working on several projects with my manager. One project was tied to reams of legal paperwork. I was busy with something else at the time, so my manager gave a task to a co-worker to do for this legal project. She needed stacks of documents three-hole punched, put into binders and divided appropriately based upon document numbering. Now, I’ll admit, it wasn’t the most exciting job in the world to do, but it was critically important to the project because these binders were needed by the legal department to proceed with their filings and such.
A day or so into it, this co-worker stopped by my desk and began to complain about what an awful task it was, and she shouldn’t be doing it because she had a Masters degree. I let her rant, and let her walk away. The next week my manager came up to me and asked if I would work on the binders. The co-worker had set in the paperwork backward, upside-down, and labeled everything incorrectly. (She no longer had a job as of that week.)
Whatever the job you do, shouldn’t you do it well? Isn’t it a reflection of your work ethic and the type of person you are? Who cares if you have fifteen degrees and speak 24 languages? If your boss asks you to make a copy – make a copy…highlight those documents…refill the toner! My husband and I laugh sometimes because we believe that if someone paid us $100/hr to staple paper together, we wouldn’t be complaining! Everything is important to getting the job done. Data entry, research, management, printing, emails, invoices…bringing in the occasional box of doughnuts!
Bring me your boring, dull, have-to-get done tasks and I’ll do them with a smile!
“If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
28+ years of business experience. 15+ years of virtual experience.