Question:

How do I work around the kids?

Super Mom

OK, so "Super Mom" probably isn't what we need to strive towards, but as a work-at-home-mom don't forget to take advantage of the "at-home-mom" part of your title. Schedule your work so that you can be a classroom parent, field trip chaperone, or scout leader. Volunteer to bake cookies for the class party (or at least pick them up at the bakery!) Plan mini outings to the park, zoo, skating rink, or museum with your kids. While deadlines and clients are important, so is your family--and isn't that why you chose to work at home anyway?

Work Hours

If your children's schedules do not allow you to set regular work hours, try alternating between work and play.

*For each 15 minutes on the phone, spend 15-30 minutes playing a game or reading a story with your children.
*Set up your "To-Do" list the night before and take advantage of small pockets of time while the children are otherwise occupied.
*Make work into a game: folding socks can be a "matching game", filing papers can be a "sorting game".

Playdates

Playdates ARE a good thing! While they do allow you to get some work done in peace and quiet, your child also benefits by fostering friendships with other children and relationships with other trusted adults. Find another work-at-home-mom and trade off once or twice a week.

Plan your days

Working at home is not going to be a dream all the time. On top of your career work, there looms housework, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, errands, lost dogs, sick children, and sibling wars.

How to manage these multiple (and constantly changing) activities? Set a routine and plan your calendar week-by-week (see tips and links under Time Management).

By keeping a routine, you and the children will always know what's going on (for the most part).
Pick a day every week that is "library day" or "park day" (ie: every Wendnesday after lunch).
Pick a day each week that you go grocery shopping--and if you can't do this with the kids, then do it while they're in school or at a playdate.
Can you do paperwork or envelope stuffing at the playground while the kids are playing?
Can you set business appointments at the same day/time each week and schedule a babysitting swap with another work at home mom?

Be creative, and always remember the reason you chose to stay home in the first place!

Phone Time is Fun Time

Have you ever put off making business calls because your children are around and might make noise while you're on the phone?

Try these suggestions:
*Have special toys, games, activities that come out only during "phone time". Having "something special" will often keep the children occupied for the few minutes you need to make your call.
*Play "phone time" with your children. Let them have an "office" or desk space of their own and a toy phone. Let them know it's phone time and you both need to make your calls.
*Be open and honest with your clients-if there is an interruption, excuse yourself, mute the phone to handle the children quickly, and when you return apologize and explain that it's one of the small drawbacks to working at home, but that the benefits are far greater. Who knows, maybe you'll help another parent take that step to working at home!

Trade off

As a parent working at home, you know that there are just some things that are impossible to do when the kids are around.

You have a couple of choices:
*wait until they're 18 and move out of the house so you can get on with your business
*send them to boarding school so you don't have to deal with them at all or
*find another work at home parent and trade babysitting.

By trading off babysitting, you save money (no hiring babysitters). You are also helping out another parent in the same situation thus making the world a better place all around. Your children will have other children to play with (for them it's a "playdate") while you're able to get important business finished.

Mother's Helper

Need help with the kids, but not up to hiring a full-time sitter? Try a "mother's helper". A mother's helper is usually an older child who lives in your neighborhood. She may not be quite old enough to babysit alone, yet, but could use the practice and experience and doesn't cost as much as a regular babysitter (mainly because you are always around). A mother's helper can take the kids out in the backyard or down to the playroom and keep the kids occupied while you work. She can also help with small household tasks such as setting the table and getting snacks.

Hands Off!

Need some work space where little hands can't reach? Try putting a baby-gate between your office and the rest of the house. You can still see and be seen, and "leap to the rescue" if necessary.

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