Going to work no longer automatically means a commute, an office chair, and a 9 to 5 day. Many moms (and dads) are finding it more practical to work out of the home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24% of employed persons did at least part of their work from home in 2010 (1). Being a work-at-home mom or dad has a lot of advantages, including no commute time, less expense (both in travel expense and wardrobe), and more time with the kids.
At the same time, working from home comes with a whole set of challenges as well. How does one accomplish anything when the two year old is swinging from the chandeliers? As daunting as it may seem, many stay-at homers have found success in working from home, even with kids in the house. Following a few of their tried and true tips can help ensure that your venture to work from home is a successful one.
One of the most commonly reiterated tips from work-at-home parents is having a designated work space. It does not have to be a separate office; in fact, it is easier to keep an eye on the kids if you are not sequestered away. However, work space is vital (2). Setting aside a corner of a room for an office is an ideal way to create space for work. Even young children will quickly learn that you are working when you sit down at that desk.
Finding time to work between meeting the demands of your challenge may be the biggest challenge you face. If you are like some people, even if your children are happily playing, the noises of their play may take away your focus. For this reason, it may be easier to set certain easier tasks for those noisiest times, and save the more intense jobs for quieter moments. For example, putting together a PowerPoint or sending quick emails can often be handled during those more intense moments. Times to count on being more productive include:
- Nap Time – If you have young children, nap time can be a fantastic time to get some concentrated work time. Kids do better on schedules, so try to set a certain time or times each day for nap time.
- School Time – If your children are school age, then the school hours are perfect for work, even if it is just a few hours during Preschool.
- Late night/Early morning – Sneaking in a little work either before your kids get up or after they go to bed is another great way to maximize the time.
- Mom’s Day Out – Find a local church with a Mom’s Day Out program; it is a great way to add a few extra quiet hours to your week without adding expense.
Besides creating your own workspace, consider making a special place for your children to use during work hours (3). Equipping a corner with some easy to access toys, books, and activities that is set aside strictly for use while you work will give your children something to look forward to while mom or dad is working. If it is in the same room as your space, you will be able to keep an eye on them while busily ticking things of your to-do list. Think of the adventures you can send them on and supervise their efforts on your breaks.
Worth the Effort
Even though working from home with kids is not easy, the rewards are great. Many parents are able to build stronger relationships with their kids, cut down on expenses, and enjoy more family time as a result of exchanging the daily commute for the home office.
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