the idea of working at home appeals to us because we don't want to leave
our children with strangers for the better part of a day. Child care
expenses can take a huge chunk from a paycheck. Still, working at home
with small children can be difficult, exhausting and presents a unique
challenge. Boundaries overlap and blur. Formerly "work time"
and "home time" was clearly defined, now time runs in a continual
line forming an everlasting day. Integrating your work schedule with
your child's can be done with a little effort and patience on your part.
take a look at your child's present schedule, are they in a child care
center? What do they do there? Are they used to you being home with
them all day? How does that compare to your new schedule? Do you have
to be "on the clock" during specific parts of the day? How
can you combine the two with the least frustration for you and your
remember children have short attention spans. Plan your children's day
with lots of small age appropriate activities instead of a few big ones.
Include simple arts and crafts that can be done without direct supervision.
Break these down into segments: coloring time, TV time, reading time,
lunch time, craft time, etc. Let your child choose times and activities.
Keep your children involved with planning the day.
possible, use a timer. Depending on your child's age, start with short
time increments like 15 or 20 minutes. When the timer rings, spend 5
minutes with your child. Gradually increase your work time until you
reach your desired level. Although more effort is needed from you in
the beginning this can be highly effective in the long run. It's almost
like planning interruptions! Only do this if you are reasonably sure
you can be consistent. When children see you respect the schedule they
are far less likely to disregard it themselves.
Go to work. Ready yourselves in the morning, pack lunches, get in the
car and drive around the block. No car? Walk a short distance. When
you return, you are arriving at "work". Make a game out of
it, children think this is fun! When work's over, do the same to come
"home". This helps define the day for you and your child.
lunch with your children. Outside picnics are fun and break up the monotony
of being inside all day. This will benefit yourself as well!
child care with other work at home parents in your area. We need a certain
amount of social interaction, adults as well as children. Making friends
with other work at home parents and cutting out the cost of child care
can be a winning solution for all.
a nanny or a relative for a few hours each day. The expense may be worth
it if your job demands your complete attention for long periods of time.
gentle. You are bound to be interrupted with questions and small problems
at the least convenient time. It's ok. Keep your focus. The reason you
are working at home is to spend more time with your family and/or to
make extra money without paying child care. Gentle reminders are less
stressful on all. It takes time to acclimate ourselves and our children
to changes in the household. Give yourself and your family some breathing
room. It won't happen overnight, still, you can successfully work at
home with small children and get your work done!
2001 JoAnna Gilford