A home based business plus children can be a recipe for success or a recipe for disaster. The outcome of the experiment depends not on the ingredients but rather upon the techniques you use to combine them.
The key to successfully combining the running of a home based business with caring for young children is to create an environment where the children don’t feel that they need to compete with the business for their mother’s attention. The simplest way to do this is to ensure that the child feels welcome in mom’s home office and not shut out. The way this can most easily be achieved depends upon the age of the child when the mother decides to become a work at home mom.
The older the children are, the easier it is to reassure them that they will still get as much of mom’s time, care and attention as they need. At the same time, they can be made to understand that the new home business is important and that they can help make this time easier for their mother. Don’t be afraid to lay down some rules, children respond well to a structured existence where they know what behaviour is welcomed and what is forbidden.
Make sure any timetable includes spells of “together” time when you will give undivided attention to each child individually. This could mean helping an older child with homework or reading a story to a toddler. Also slot in time for family activities when you will all get together to watch TV or go to the park or play a game all the children can enjoy.
Although caring for tiny infants is time consuming and tiring (especially if they are wakeful during the night), when your baby is very young is a good time to start your home based business. Your child will grow up with the business and not have any memory of a time when your attention did not have to be shared. As an infant normally spends most of the day sleeping, you will have plenty of quiet hours in which to get your business up and running efficiently. A three month old baby will be perfectly happy to entertain him/herself on an activity mat in a corner of the home office with you in sight while you work.
Things get trickier when baby gets to the crawling, standing and climbing stages. For several months, your day will be a series of rescue missions: either rescuing your adventurous tot from precarious situations or rescuing your treasured possessions from your little treasure’s ever extending reach. Keep a box of toys in your office and encourage your child to play within sight while you work. Working while baby is awake will, however, be impossible except for very short spells, so make the most of nap times.
By the time your child reaches two years of age, independent play will last longer and demands on your time will lessen. A toddler will enjoy sitting at his/her own little desk in your office and crayoning works of art or making collages while you get on with the grown up version of office activities. If you can provide little jobs for your child to do, this will encourage growth of the child’s self-esteem and feeling of being an important part of your home business. A two year old will be delighted to be trusted with the important job of helping to take out the waste paper at the end of the day.
Making your child feel welcome in your home business environment is the first step in getting this recipe to work well. A set of simple rules and a workable schedule are all that you need as finishing touches to enjoy your recipe for success.