This article is part of our SmartBiz Loans® series to highlight topics of interest to our community.
Many small business owners we speak with operate out of a home office and have children. Daycare, after school programs, summer camp and babysitters can be very cost prohibitive and it’s often necessary to run your business while kiddos are around. Stock photographs of a happy mom tapping away on a computer or making a phone call with a baby on her lap are not realistic. If you’re struggling to get it all done, review our tips and tricks to make working with kids around easier.
Set Realistic Goals
If you’ve decided today is the day to put your head down and finish a 30 slide PowerPoint presentation, you might be in for a rude awakening. Believe it or not, no matter how much you try to explain to your kids that you have work to do, they don’t care. They want food, attention, a friend to play with, etc. Take a look at the projects that are on your list – tasks that used to take an hour might take much longer with kid interruptions. Plan accordingly.
Organizing your week is important. Procrastination when you have kiddos at home is not a strategy that works. Sit down and plan your week in advance as much as possible. Don’t forget to build in extra time for unexpected things that might pop up. To help improve your productivity, try one of 5 time trackers recommended by Entrepreneur.
Become an Early Bird
If your schedule allows, get up an hour before the kids wake. Uninterrupted time and a cup of hot coffee can help you finish projects or get a big head start on your day. Not a morning person? If you’re a night owl, hit the computer after the kids are asleep. Just be sure that you’re getting enough rest to be alert and productive for the children and your company.
Build a Support System
There will be days when you just can’t do it all. Network with family members and other parents to establish an emergency plan for childcare if needed. Have a few babysitters on speed dial that are up for a last minute job. Some communities have drop in daycare facilities. Even if you never use the service, go ahead and get registered so you’re ready to go if a drop off is needed. KidsPark is one national franchise that allows drop in daycare by the hour.
Do an overall audit of your business systems and processes. Are there any you can automate or cut out completely? The QuickBooks blog has an excellent article on how to automate, streamline and simplify small business tasks.
Keep ‘Em Busy
There are activities you can plan for your kids that won’t break the bank. Check out this excellent list from BuzzFeed: 33 Activities Under $10 That Will Keep Your Kids Busy All Summer.
Explore Outside Help
Are there tasks and projects you can turn over? Consider bringing on a remote assistant. Assistant Match is one company that hires out professional office assistants and freelancers with specific skill sets. The cost can be much less than childcare. Look at companies like TaskRabbit for running errands or other small jobs that take you away from your core duties.
Set Yourself Up
Do you have a workspace or do you carry around your laptop and work wherever you can find room? It’s a good idea to have a dedicated area so the kids know when you’re sitting in that space, you’re all about business.
Reward Good Behavior
Did the kids stay quiet during an important phone call? Don’t let good behavior go unnoticed. Kids respond to a wide variety of rewards. Find out your kid’s currency – is it a special date with mom or dad, ice cream or time on the iPad ? Make a chart to track behavior and stick to reward promises. Psychology Today has a good article about reward charts that can be helpful as you implement your system: The Dos and Don’ts of the Sticker Chart.
Structure is healthy for you professionally and personally. Set specific times for TV, outside play, inside activities, meals and rest. Post the schedule in a prominent place so the kids know what to expect during the day.
When you are with your children, really be there. Try to take an actual break and leave the business on the back burner. It’s good for the kids and good for you!
Remember the Big Picture
Time flies for parents and small business owners. Difficult times with kids at home will pass. You’re setting a great example for your children as a successful entrepreneur. Embrace this time as much as possible and focus on the positive. Hang in there – it will get easier!
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