biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: How to Run Your Business While the Kids are Out of School

by Stephanie

Today’s Biz Ladies post is by Jennifer Dunn from Outright.com, the online resource to help manage your business finances. Today Jennifer offers tips and tricks for balancing your work-life and mom-life when the kids are out of school for the summer. Thanks for sharing your advice, Jennifer! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

There are only so many hours in a day. As a crafter, you want as few distractions as possible, especially when you get into “the zone.” Time is money, and the more you spend it dealing with other stuff that isn’t involved with your company, well, the less you have of both!

This can be exponentially worse when you work from home. When you have an office space, you’re able to do what you have to do and buckle down. At home, looking away from your computer can give you dozens of other things to think about. Suddenly you see all the clothes to be folded, shelves to be dusted, and bills to be paid.

When the kids are home for the summer, forget it. How are you supposed to get anything done with them running around? You might as well just give up for the summer, or send them away to camp.

If you play your cards right, though, you can get all your work done AND have time for the little ones. It just comes down to maintaining a healthy balance of work and family time. But how do you achieve this?

Careful Planning

The big problem business owners with kids run into is that kids are very unpredictable. One second they’re hanging out watching Dora in the other room, and the next they’re hanging from the rafters in your home office. There’s no real way to predict how they’re going to act on a minute-to-minute basis.

But think of it like this: Your kids desperately want your attention because they love you (and they’re bored). The only thing they want when they burst into your office is for you to acknowledge them for a little bit.

With a little careful planning, though, you can (mostly) prevent this. If your kids are in school, they should be approaching the age where you can reason with them. So try to negotiate a little agreement.

Fun Agreements

Kids don’t want to do anything that isn’t fun — it’s part of being a kid after all! So your agreement with them has to keep their interest. For example, let them know why these boundaries are in place.

“Mama has to work and make money. Why don’t you help me out? You guys go do these fun activities, and it’ll be like your work! For payment at the end of the week, we can go to that place you really like.”

We’re not above bribery, is what we’re saying. That probably shouldn’t be your first line of defense, but we all know it works with kids most of the time, especially when they’re super rowdy.

Above all else, make sure there’s a definite boundary between “home life” and “work time.” Let the kids know that when you’re in your home-office space, you are not to be disturbed. You can do this with a closed door, or if you have to work at the kitchen table where you’re easily accessible, wear big noticeable earphones or a funny hat to let the kids know you’re buckled down.

When you leave work, dedicate your energy to your family, and leave the work in the other room. It may be tough at first, but they’ll get it, and you’ll be able to get things done and have a happy, balanced life.

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  • This is EXACTLY what I struggle with in the summer! I try to give my kids priority but it’s a difficult balance. Thanks so much for the article!

  • Love this! I actually just posted last week on how to work from home with toddlers (and actually get things done). Working at home with kids can be a challenge but nothing a little planning, flexibility, and a few late nights can’t help. :)

  • This was a timely post, when the kids are with me from 7am-8pm creativity is zapped. I just don’t have the energy for new ideas. But over the summer I have noticed a few things we can do together, like shop at thrift stores. And I definitely let them watch a few cartoons :)

  • I’m going through this right now with my kids. It’s very challenging and this post couldn’t have come at a better time.

  • Great ideas – I have learned that summer months are always my most difficult. I have however incorporated mundane tasks into job/activity minders for my two youngest who are right now ages 8 and 12. They have been working for marbles for me for the last 3 years. Sometimes they take labels off, clean vases, open my boxes all for the price of a marble. Once they have collected a certain amount of marbles they are allowed to turn it in for a reward prize that has been calling their name. I also dish out marbles for being quiet while mommy is talking to her clients, or playing outside for a specified time, the list is extensive. It lets them know that there are rewards for any task no matter how small.

  • Working at home with kids is much more difficult than most perceive. Even with older kids home, now you’re tempted to join them! I find myself saying things like, “Don’t watch that without me,” or “I want to see that movie too…” which is also distracting. Add the dishes, laundry, dog, etc. and it’s very hard to focus. Especially for those of us with adult onset ADD, as I like to call it. In fact, my son is leaving for college in 9 days and he’s calling me to come watch True Blood as I’m trying to finish up. Gotta go… (btw, he was only allowed to watch that after he turned 18 so don’t judge too harshly)

  • Thanks for all the great comments, guys! @Polly Klein – when you said “working for marbles,” I at first thought you mean they were working for little pay. Then I saw you meant ACTUAL marbles. Too funny!!

  • Being a work-at-home mum certainly has its challenges and the hours of the day just do not seem to be enough. And with a baby on the way, things are getting a bit more uphill. Although managing an online (family) business is starting to give me the perks of having more time on my side, however it could be quite tedious at times, nonetheless. Balancing work and homemaking can be quite trying, but I’m sure that the fruits shall definitely be sweet in the end. :)