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How Do You Work From Home with Children?

Aug 17, 2007
It is the dream of many people to work from home. I have been working from home for the last 12 years and my husband has worked from home off and on for the last 30 years. There are many things we enjoy about it, but other things that make it more difficult than working in an office for someone else.

If you want to work from home the first thing to do is to determine if you have the personality and work style to do it. For extraverts who thrive on frequent interaction with others, home is not the place to work. You need to be a self-starter and motivated to work hard if you want to work from home. There are many distractions that can keep you from being productive, and there is no boss looking over your shoulder to see whether you are playing computer games or working.

Make sure your work area at home is set up to be conducive to work. Do not work in your bedroom if you can help it. Set up a desk and work area in the corner of the living space or a spare bedroom. The bedroom where you sleep should be separated from work so you can relax there.

Many people want to work from home in order to spend more time with their children. This is an admirable desire, and something that can be achieved, but children can also be the biggest distraction when working from home. Infants do not know that you need to get your work done, they just want your attention when they need something. If you have an infant you will need to work while they sleep. Since you won't be getting enough sleep yourself this will be difficult, but since you would have the same problem in an office it is preferable to work from home at this time.

Toddlers are the most difficult. They need to know that you have to work. Give them toys to play with and make sure they are where they can be watched. Our youngest daughter once got stranded at the very top of a step ladder in another room while my husband and I worked and might have fallen off if a colleague had not happened upon her while he was looking for us. Work will come in short spurts when you have toddlers.

Pre-schoolers will begin to understand the concept of working from home and will probably want a file drawer and a few rubber stamps, pens and markers so they can work from home, too. This can be a wonderful time of togetherness for you and your young child as they learn the values that drive you.

Once the children start school you will have longer stretches of time to dedicate to your work, but more and more, the day will be cut short by the need to rush to after school activities. Because you work from home it may be assumed that you will always be available for the field trip, the homeroom party, the PTA office. If you enjoy those things go ahead and volunteer, but be aware that you may be finishing your work after the kids' bedtime and you will still have to get up soon enough to get them to school the next day.

Now, with an 11, 13 and 14 year old at home and two grown children out of the house we still work from home. The girls go to three different schools, which start and end at three different times. They have different interests and are involved in activities at different times and on different days. My husband gets them all to school while I get started working, then I pick them up while he continues working. We both take them to their activities and lessons.

We are happy to work from home at this time because we are here when the teenagers have friends over, and we are able to provide transportation for them and attend their activities. While they do their homework we are able to continue working at a desk near theirs and we can answer questions when they come up. We are close to our three daughters because we have been home with them most of their lives. Of course, we have not avoided all the angst that goes with being a young teen girl, but we have been here for them when they are in the midst of the drama. Sometimes work is interrupted, but they are the reasons we have made the choices we have, and we believe the choice was worth it.

If you do not have unreasonable expectations, such as "I would be much more successful if I could work from home," or "I can get my work and housework done at the same time if I work from home," you can succeed. Just remember that it is often more difficult rather than easier to work from home than it is to work in an office.
About the Author
Lynn Doxon is the mother of two stepsons and three adopted daughters. She writes books and manages an online business at www.lynnd.payitforward4profits.com as well as helping her husband with his architecture and real estateinvestment business.
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