Alright, I won’t deny it any longer. We’re parents and we work out of our home. Nine months out of the year, this is really no different than having an office elsewhere as we are very focused and (usually) know how to shut down when the work day is done. During the summer months however, it’s a different story. If you wear similar shoes, today we’re happy to provide you with several tips for work at home parents.
The past two days have been prime examples of the days when we, as work at home parents want to pull their hair out. With our 10 and 7 year old sons with us every day, the focus in our house is on video games, sports and food. Our neighborhood is filled with children the boys love to play with, and there are days when the boys only come in for their mandatory check-in or to grab a bite to eat. Two days ago, however, the weather was so extremely hot they didn’t even want to put a toe outside. Yesterday brought less-than-optimal weather conditions again. Raining and storming, we weren’t about to send the boys out on their bikes to be lightning targets. So both days we had them constantly underfoot. Sigh. If you’re struggling with being a work at home parent, here are some tips we have to help you maintain sanity. (Please note – although we are expecting later this summer, these tips are geared toward parents who have children who are relatively self-sufficient)
- Set a Food Schedule – Our boys will ask for food all day long. Yes, they are growing, however they really don’t need the chocolate chip cookies they are asking for at 930am. Let your child(ren) know what time breakfast, lunch and snacks are so there are no (repeated) question about if/when they will get fed.
- Rainy Day Activities – Just as we faced in the last two days, you can’t count on perfect weather all day, every day. On days when it is too hot, cold or wet to go outside you need to have an adequate supply of indoor activities for your children to do. While the TV is often a convenient “electronic babysitter”, board games, library books and arts & crafts can also fill large amounts of time.
- Rewards – Our boys know and understand that good behavior and minimal work day interruptions Monday-Thursday mean Mom and Dad take Friday afternoon off and we all go to the (AWESOME) city pool. While we don’t share 99% of our household finance details with the boys, they understand that weekday (unnecessary/bad-behavior) interruptions result in less pay for us, and we will have to make that time up on Friday afternoon if the behavior issues are not controlled. We all love the pool however, and usually it only takes one reminder to get back on track. A good week of work equals rewards for the entire family.
- Chores/Allowance – Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you have more time to focus on chores around the house. Your child(ren) can definitely pitch in though, and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. Our boys appreciate the small weekly allowance they receive for helping with laundry, garbage and kitchen cleanup. As for the money they receive, we just have to make sure it all doesn’t go to the ice cream truck when it drives through the neighborhood several times a day.
- Respect – While this may sound like a funny tip, trust us, respect is crucially important for work at home parents AND their children. Yes, it would be so extremely easy to lose your cool and rage out on your child when he/she interrupts you for the tenth time in 5 minutes with the same exact question. It pays, however, to have a two-way respectful relationship with your child(ren). Not only will they appreciate the positive interactions you have with each other, but they will also learn to value you and everything you provide for your family unit as a work at home parent.
- Play Time – Living AND working at home can certainly pose its challenges, especially if you have your children with you every second of the day. To reduce the risk of mental break down, be sure to schedule time for you and your kids to get out of the house SEPARATELY for recreational purposes. Whether participating in a sport or visiting with friends, don’t let your grocery store visits become the only time you leave the house.
Kim Sutton is the Managing Partner and Chief Everything Officer of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios. She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
An avid reader and passionate learner, Kim is constantly researching, studying and developing business improvement strategies. When it comes to client work, Kim especially enjoys helping her clients develop innovative marketing strategies and sales funnels, particularly when they are using Infusionsoft to automate all the heavy lifting. To find out how you can further develop your company’s marketing and automation strategies schedule a 1-hour Business Boost Strategy Session by clicking here.
In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and five children. She also enjoys reading, knitting, writing and playing video games.
Get a copy of Kim’s FREE guide, “10 Top Tools for Small Businesses” by clicking here.