Balancing Your Act
As an entrepreneurial parent, you juggle the roles of head chef, chauffer, nurse, janitor and more. Being there for your kids may be the very reason you have a home-based business, yet this myriad of roles makes carving time out for your business challenging at best. By developing a wide variety of cost-effective childcare options, you can achieve a balance between spending time with your children and building your business.
There are times when working at home while watching the kids goes without a hitch. Theyre playing a game in the other room, doing their homework at the kitchen table, or gabbing with their friends while youre making your calls, filing your paperwork, and crossing items off of your to do list with efficiency. There are other times, though, when parenting and working requires a superhuman ability to focus. Once, as I was doing a phone interview with the local media, the Pokémon theme was blaring on the TV, a toy was singing, If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands, and my son came over saying, Mommy, Mommy, Mommmmmeee . The reporter was amazed that I could concentrate on writing an article for my newsletter with such distractions. The key is honing the ability to let go of the distracting voices while still listening for cues that your children really need help.
Bringing in the Relief Pitcher
No matter how well you multitask, there are occasions when you need undisturbed time to devote to your business. Here are some ideas for getting the relief you need:
Hire a sitter to come to your home. In the summertime, you can find local high school and college kids who will keep the children entertained for a few hours rather inexpensively. Otherwise, you can ask friends, neighbors, and customers to recommend sitters who are willing to do daycare in your home.
Swap babysitting and working time with another mom. If you have a friend who also has her own home-based business, you can trade work and sitting times. For example, if you work in the morning, she can watch your kids. In the afternoon, she can work while you take over the childcare duties.
Set up a childcare co-op. Arrange with two other moms in your neighborhood or on your team to take all three kids for one afternoon. By taking turns watching the brood, the kids will form lasting friendships while each mom gets two afternoons per week to work on her businesskid-free!
Work swing shifts with your husband. You can watch the kids while your husband works, and then he can take over while you work the next shift. The disadvantage to this approach is that you dont get a lot of quality time to spend with your husband.
Work around the kids schedules. You can get chunks of work done while the kids are in school, or in the early morning or at night when the kids are sleeping. If you have a baby or toddler, you can work while they are taking naps.
Ask your family for help. Going to grandmas house can be an adventure. If you have extended family, they may be willing to watch the kids while you work.
Enroll your kids in a class. Most local parks and recreation districts offer dozens of inexpensive classes for children of all ages. Go through the course catalog together with your children, and have them pick out the classes that most interest them.
Park your kids at the pool. Invest in a summer pass for your local public pool and take advantage of the recreational swim hours. As long as your kids can swim, most public pools allow school-age children to swim without a parent being present. You can get two to three hours a day of uninterrupted work while your kids are splashing in the sun.
Sign your kids up for day camp. Many parks and recreation districts offer inexpensive day camps. When theyre not in school, consider signing your kids up for day camp one or two days each week. Theyll have fun and youll have peace of mind.
Assessing Your Options
Realistically assess how well youre juggling your many roles, and whether some form of childcare would help you achieve your personal and professional goals.
Determine how many hours each week youd like help with the kids, and choose one or more strategies from the above list.
Do the research or make the calls to get the help you need.