This blog was written to feature on the ParentChum website.
As both a parent and a business owner, your time is in high demand. From the minute you wake up, to the minute you go to sleep, your children will need something and your work to-do list keeps expanding.
It’s natural to worry that running your business is taking too much time away from your children, or that caring for your little ones means you aren’t putting enough time into making your business a success. The key is to find a balance between the two so that you don’t feel either side is losing out.
Whether you’re in mummy, daddy, or business boss mode today, here are six ideas to help you balance running your business from home whilst looking after young children.
1. Work out your routine
There will never be enough hours in the day to get everything we want to do done, so we need to be realistic about we can actually achieve with the time available. Setting up a routine that is easy to stick to will help you plan ahead and get things done.
Start by noting down the non negotiable times you need to be available for parenting tasks – this could be the school run, bed time, or a weekly club activity you want to be involved in. Then do the same for your business. Two hours to schedule your social media posts for the week, a morning or afternoon dedicated to meeting clients or networking activities, a weekly accounting top up, and of course time to create the products you sell, or market the services you provide.
Consider if you actually need to work every day or if you could work a few longer days so to free up a full day or two with your family. Your list of parenting and business ‘must-dos’ each week will obviously vary depending on the type of business and family set up you have but once you have these listed out, add them to a good old fashioned timetable and put them in a place in the house where everyone can see it.
If there are any slots of time left over, fill them with other things you’d like to get done and be sure to add in some time for things you enjoy too, for your own sanity!
2. Child care
In order to be able to stick to your new routine, you may have to consider paid child care. If that isn’t an option being able to call upon friends and family who love your kids and will be happy to supervise when you need to be in work mode is a great option.
If you are friends with other local business owners who work from home with children too, could you consider a childcare rotation between you? This will give the other a few hours to focus on business things in the peace and quiet of an empty house!
3. Get Children Involved
Nothing sparks curiosity in a child like being told they can’t do something, so take some time to show them and talk to them about what you’re doing. That way they won’t feel like it’s a punishment when you need to be in business mode.
If they show an interest in wanting to be involved, they could always end up being super helpful. Could they help count stock, print labels, basic filing? Who knows, seeing and helping you work to build your business could plant the seeds for them being their own boss one day too, plus you get to enjoy time together whilst keeping your business alive.
4. Promote being child friendly
Never be afraid to say you have child care responsibilities in business. You could even use this to your advantage when arranging to meet clients or customers with children of their own by arranging to meet in a child friendly play centre or park. This way, everyone is out of the house for a bit and the kids can entertain themselves together while you talk business, a win for everybody!
5. Organisation is key
If working while you’re children are at home too, plan activities they can do at the table while you crack on with work. Craft based projects, quiet reading or colouring can work well. Turn it into a game by setting a timer on a clock so everyone knows how long to concentrate on the task in hand before you get a break or snack. Filling the cupboards or fridge with pre-prepared, easy to grab snacks is a great way to save time throughout the day and keep everyone happy.
6. Set expectations
Talk to your children and anyone that you live with to let them know that at certain times, although you are at home, you will be focused on working and shouldn’t be interrupted. Make sure your desk or work area is known as a child free zone and if you are likely to have clients calling or visiting you at your home, make sure everyone in the family knows how to handle these situations to ensure you maintain a professional image.
By setting these ground rules at home early on, everyone is clear where they stand and you will hopefully be able to enjoy a productive work space from the comfort of your own home.