The Magic Word for Work-at-Home Parents

One thing that many people with a work-at-home business don’t plan for is how the arrival of kids is going to change everything. Literally. Your work-at-home day before kids and your work-at-home day after kids might as well be two completely different things. Don’t despair, however. You can still enjoy all the benefits of working from home and still have time to raise a family. You just have to make some allowances and plan a little more carefully.  

The biggest problem you may face when trying to run a business from home with young children around could actually be more an emotional obstacle than anything else. When kids are needing your attention and your work is needing to get done, it can quickly become a divisive issue within yourself. You start asking your question if you are neglecting your kids. You start wondering if you are cut out for the work-at-home game.  

Before things get to that point, you have to lay down the ground rules. Obviously, these ground rules don’t apply to very small children who can’t do anything for themselves. When you are working from home and you have kids home from school or you just begin a stay-at-home job as your kids are becoming teenagers, however, that’s a whole other ballgame. And the ground rules that must be laid down essentially come down to making sure the kids understand the full meaning of the following question.  

Would you have walked to my office downtown to ask me this question?  

You have to make not just kids, but anyone else around the home understand that just because your work is done at home, that does not mean you are also a baby sitter, chef or limo drive. If one of the kids comes to you and asks you to make them something to eat, you calmly ask them the question posed above. Would they have walked downtown to your office to ask you to make them something to eat? Or would they have found something to eat by themselves?   

Would your kid make that journey to your downtown office to ask you to help them with homework or to drive them to their friends? Of course, they wouldn’t. Do your kids need your help with homework and need you to drive them to their friends? Of course, they do. And you need to make the effort to do those things when you have the time. Work comes before anything that is not an emergency. Does this sound like a cold way to treat you kids?  

Sure, it does. If you work at home. Because the one thing you will never stop hearing when you tell people that you work at home is how wonderful it must be to have the ability to live the rest of your life on your own time schedule. People who work in an office or sell things on the road or stand behind a register at the mall can’t just suddenly stop working to make their kids a sandwich or drive them to friend’s house. And yet you are supposed to feel guilty if you don’t do these things simply because you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to changing your schedule.   

The problem is once you start buying into the mythical world, it becomes your reality. That kind of reality is the quickest route to becoming more and more unproductive. You know the old saying, give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Once you start interrupting your stay-at-home job to make a sandwich, it’s only a matter of time before you are frying chicken fingers. Once you postpone a task to drive a kid a few miles to a friend’s house, the next time thing you know you are driving across town to forgotten soccer practice. Before you know it, you’ll be missing deadlines and then missing assignments.   

All because your job that is every bit as serious as any other job is done from an office located thirty seconds from your child’s bedroom rather too far away to bother walking to.