If you are like me you are working from home because you chose to be more available for your family. I have three kids, 13, 11, and 9 and now they are home for the summer. What a gift I have to actually be able to share their summer memories with them. We live in a beautiful city with 4 public beaches and 20 km of parks along the water front. It is a dream-come-true for me.
So how do I get any work done during the summer when it can be so easy to be distracted by the needs of my kids? Let me share my three favourite strategies for enlisting my kids to help me with my business so I can have time to do things with them and for them during their break.
Get Their Buy-in
Don’t assume just because they are kids they won’t understand about responsibility and commitment. This is your opportunity to teach them what it really means by modelling the way.
- Talk to them as if you expect them to understand.
- Ask for their input.
- They will have lots of questions so don’t hold back on the answers.
Kids love to be taken seriously and allowing them to know that they are a key part to your success gives them great pride in what you are doing. Don’t forget to praise them when they are doing things right (not just when they are causing distractions). You will be surprised how much buy-in I get from my kids as they grow up in my business.
BONUS – I will even hire my kids to shred paper or organize things on my desk to get them completely involved. This is a real win-win-win scenario. They get responsibility and a little money for completing work, I get help and my business gets potential business partners for the future. It may not be my business they get into, but they will certainly think about business as an option when trying to figure out where they fit in life.
If you want your time respected by others you first have to know exactly what it is you want them to respect. Let your kids know where you work, when you are working, what work they can interrupt and what work they cannot interrupt.
My work day is set from 8 am to 5 pm. This is not specifically when I work but this is the boundary I’ve set for my kids. If I’m in my office they are not allowed to just barge in and start talking. They have to wait until I acknowledge them. This is important because I spend a lot of time writing and once I’m in the zone it’s easy to get distracted and hard to pick up the thought again.
I also have a simple solution for no interruptions. It is the door on my office. If it is open they can come in and wait to talk to me. If it is closed I am unavailable. I tell them it is the same as Daddy being at work, you can’t just barge in to his office. They get that.
My kids will now police each other around respecting my time and space. I will hear someone giving instructions on what can and cannot be done, as if I was not even in the house, during my focused work time.
BONUS – You need to set focused work times for yourself. You will be most productive if you have several uninterrupted 90-minute times during the day. This way you can give yourself time to renew and open the door to be around your kids often.
Rewards for Them and You
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from one of my favourite mentors, Donna Douglas. First she let me know that “even a 2-year old will scrub a toilet”. The insight in this statement was that my kids will help when asked, and it was true. The second was a strategy she used, which was to pay her kids 1% of her income from her company for their support of her in her business.
Their job was to not bother her while she was working, and like I described above, she had boundaries around what that meant to them. It does work. When you say to them, “if I have to stop to help you right now I cannot get my work finished and I won’t get paid”, they know it affects them as well.
BONUS – get them a bank account as soon as possible so you can transfer money directly from your account to theirs. This way they will also learn about saving, credit, and debit early in life. The sooner you introduce them to the tools they will need in business and life the sooner you can start on your succession plan.
They will grow up so fast. If you are as lucky as I am to have this opportunity to really spend time with your kids, then don’t miss out.
There are so many other really great strategies, from getting the right support to part-time nannies. Let us know why you love working at home with your kids and your favourite strategy for dealing with your time and theirs effectively.