According to the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey, the amount of women choosing to work from home has increased by 45% since 2005. However, managing your workload whilst nurturing a baby, toddler or pre-schooler can be complicated; meaning a definitive balance between your work and family is essential. Considering becoming a work at home parent? Check out this guide on how you can enjoy a successful working life from the comfort of your own home alongside raising your children.
Analyse your Employment Options:
Although not all jobs are adaptable for working-from-home circumstances, there are several available to suit your situation – working from home is completely possible. Here are some examples of appropriate jobs for work-from-home parents:
- Virtual administrative assistant.
- Graphic designer.
- Web developer.
- Independent sales representative (Avon).
- Customer service representative.
- At-home travel agent.
- An independent reseller (Signature Books).
- Freelance writer/blogger.
Conduct thorough research of the jobs you are considering before making an informative decision to ensure your new position will be compatible with your child’s age, for example – if you have a new-born baby, working a 9-5 schedule as a customer service representative would be impractical due to a babies need for more constant observation and attention; which would make answering customer service telephone queries difficult.
If you have young children, consider the following factors to determine which work-from-home employment is appropriate for you:
- How many hours a day are you realistically able to work?
- What time of the day are you able to start work?
- Which companies offer flexible working hours?
- What jobs comply with your daily child care routine?
Produce a Schedule:
Once you have decided on your home career path, start producing a daily schedule that allocates specific timeslots for both your working hours and parenting duties. Line your day up carefully with set “office” hours to determine when you will complete certain tasks depending your children’s routine.
Naturally, looking after a child can be unpredictable, so be sure your daily plan allows for possible interruptions – if they interrupt you during an important phone call, ensure there is time available in your schedule for the call to be reallocated.
If you have a young child at home, or especially more than one, moments of pure silence are rare. Working while your children sleep is perfect for completing work and allowing complete focus. For parents who regularly need to make/return phone calls, try timing your phone calls around their nap time; this way you’ll avoid annoying your employer, for sadly not all are understanding when it comes to children. Organise your child’s naps around your required working hours if possible.
Set up an Office:
Learning to keep your role as an employee and parent can be difficult, but it is vital. Failing to provide your full concentration to both responsibilities will result in them overlapping and improper completion of tasks. Mentally separate yourself from the rest of your house by setting up a private office area – it doesn’t have to be fancy, merely secluded enough to distract you from household chores.
Once you have a designated office area, use signals to let your children know when you don’t want to be disturbed, for example – tie a ribbon to an object or use a colour coded system (green – available for interruptions and red – do not disturb unless it’s an emergency. Avoid locking yourself away completely, for although it might seem convenient, your children could find the isolation stressful and therefore cause further distractions.
Entertainment is Key:
Let’s face it, boredom is something children frequently complain about, which is disastrous when you’ve got deadlines to meet. Renee Belbek, founder of the National Association of W.O.M.E.N (Women, Owners, Moms, Entrepreneurs, and Networkers) discovered a simple solution while her children were toddlers: “If I gave them a little quality time, I’d get two hours to work”.
Set aside some of their favourite toys to play with whilst you’re working, arrange playdates or special work-time entertainment (watching a movie) – children with something to look forward to are far less likely to interrupt. Try creating a designated activity centre in your office so they can be near you without causing disruptions. Other ideas include designing an activity bowl full of tasks your children can accomplish (build the tallest tower) and possibly including them in your work when they’re old enough (putting away files); this will encourage supervised independence.
Technology is predominantly portable nowadays, meaning you can work almost anywhere. Work in the garden or a nearby whilst your children play; this allows you to have complete supervision of your children and also increases variation in their activities.
Instead of dealing with problems when they first arise, deal with them beforehand. Enforcing gentle rules are essential for preventing your parenting responsibilities from overflowing onto your work. In comparison to an infant, it is perfectly acceptable to teach older children not to expect immediate and constant attention, so keep working if there isn’t an emergency. Educate your children on what they are allowed to touch in your office and make them aware of the behaviour expectations within your working environment.
About the author:
Gina Hutchings is Digital Marketing Consultant at Receptional. She has over 12 years’ experience in a variety of marketing fields from IT and engineering to design and finance. Many of the fields she works in are predominantly male centric and they benefit from a female viewpoint.