How to Work Your Home Business Alongside Your Children

Sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop, I finally hit “print” for the article I’ve been struggling with for days. But nothing happens. Then, the message appears: “The printer is out of paper.” “Not again,” I mumble as I hoof it to the next room, tripping over my six year old sprawled on the floor with crayons and paper spread about. “Like my pictures, Mommy?” That’s where my paper went, again.

Many moms wait until the day their child gets on the school bus for the first time before they begin a home business. I’ve never had that option—I’ve homeschooled my children for the last 17 years. Consequently, I’ve learned a lot of ways to work alongside them. So whether you have pre-schoolers or homeschoolers, by implementing the following ideas your home business need not wait another day.

Get organized. Plan your week on Sunday evening. After you put the kids to bed, sit down with your calendar and notepad. Make sure all their activities are on the calendar and then add any appointments for yourself and your spouse.

Make use of sleep times. Sleep time is ideal for getting work done uninterrupted. Set your alarm for a few hours before the kids generally get up. These wee hours can prove to be the most productive because you are fresh from a good night’s sleep. Work during nap time. If your kids have out-grown naps, have a mandatory “afternoon rest time.” Requiring each child to remain in an isolated spot (bed, couch, or bean bag chair) for a designated period of time, reading or playing quietly, can give you an hour for work.

Establish work hours. As parents with children in the house we learn to work in small, disconnected slots of time; but you will be more productive if you designate office hours.  This habit lets your clients know when it is okay to call and your friends and family when it is not. If you plan to hire a babysitter, let it be for these hours. Remember, too, to resist all temptations to vacuum, Facebook, or chat on the phone during office hours.

Let the toddler help. When I sold Avon and Shaklee, my toddler helped me package the orders. If your business has any jobs for little hands, let your children help. Older customers, too, love it when junior delivers their order. If you don’t anticipate a lengthy visit, take the little guy along.

Set up a junior workstation. If you bake, set up a play kitchen. Give your little baker her own blob of dough. If you craft, have a small workbench equipped with leftovers from your projects. What young child can resist fabric or paper scraps, glue, or beads? If your business is clerical in nature, set up a small desk with supplies and an old phone. Anything found in mommy’s desk is attractive to a preschooler. If you must get some work done while they are about, encourage them to take orders or pay bills.

Take your work with you. I never leave my home without a folder of stories that need editing. If any of your work can go in a bag, take it to story time at the library, tumbling class, or even the dentist. Take the children to the park and work while they enjoy the playground. If you invite some of their friends to join you, I guarantee your interruptions will be few.

Hire a sitter. If the budget allows, have someone come over while you work in your office. If she came mid-morning, she could play with the children in the backyard or take them for walks through the neighborhood. Then she could feed them lunch, put them down for a nap and leave once they fall asleep. If you cannot afford a paid sitter, schedule a few work hours while you spouse is home.

Call on Grandma. Though she doesn’t want to be a full-time babysitter, my mother loves to have special days with the grandkids. When time is tight and the deadline looms like a scary monster in the closet; or if you need to meet a client, send the children to grandma’s for a morning of baking, gardening or crafting.

Implementing these ideas won’t keep junior out of your printer paper. But they will definitely afford you the peace of mind needed to get some work done. So, don’t waste your time dreaming of the big, yellow bus coming up the lane. Enjoy your children and your business, too.

Do you work at home and take care of your children at the same time? What are some of your favorite tips? Leave a comment below!

Photo by Elizabeth/Table4Five

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  1. 20's Finances

    Great tips. It is always important to make use of those closest to you. They want to help you out and it is nice to get a lot of work done while someone is watching the little ones.

  2. jbledsoejr

    great post! trying to homeschool and build a business from home is what we are working through now…it is a challenge, but can be done. I myself try the Sunday evening planning and to get as much work done early in the morning or just after the kid’s bedtime when they are sleep. I love the idea of setting up a junior workstation as well.

    • Carol J. Alexander

      The nice thing about a family business and homeschooling is that as the children get older they can work themselves into a job, apprenticeship, helping the family and learning at the same time. Hope all goes well for you.

  3. Evan

    The Wife works from home, and I was home when my company lost power for a couple a days…I have NO idea how anyone does it!

    Great tips but man is it hard to take focus away from the kid

    • Carol J. Alexander

      It’s always nice when the hubby gets a new insight that increases his appreciation for us stay at home moms. 🙂

  4. Household Budgeting

    I applaud you, Carol, for bringing this out and helping others get a grasp. Every child should learn entrepreneurial skills young as when they are older will possibly depend on those skills to survive.

  5. Briana @ 20 and Engaged

    These are things I have to keep in mind when I have children, since I plan to be a work at home mom. I’ve always wondered how they do it, but now I see!