Being a parent isn’t always easy, especially when a job is involved. I currently have four kids and three businesses. I learned early on that although it was difficult, there are some great tricks that make things easier. I’d like to share three of those with you today.
Tip 1: Make a routine.
Regardless of your kids’ ages, children like routines. Take time out of your busy day to hang out with your family. Make a detailed calendar or daily schedule, complete with fun stickers and activities.
“Mama will work after this game,” I’ll tell my children, pointing to the calendar. “Then you’ll have time playing with blocks. If you play nicely, you can put a sticker up here, to say you’ve done a good job . . . like Mama. After that we’ll make lunch!”
Kids often understand far more than we give them credit for. They like knowing what’s going on. If we have a game plan, and our children feel like part of it, they’re much more likely to enjoy the routine.
Tip 2: After You’ve Made a Routine, Make Work-time Fun
Once, after a party, a friend asked my daughter what she’d do after leaving. “I’m going working with Mama!” my daughter said, so excited about her part of my work-life. She could earn a sticker for completing a task, and hopefully I could get some good work done in the process.
I told my friend about our routine. “But what tasks does she do while you work?” my friend asked.
“That’s the fun part.” And it really is. I figured that I work six days out of every week. For any day that I can’t simply wake up early, or work after the kids go to sleep, I realized my kids would need activities to keep them busy, while still helping develop their growing minds.
One day we took a trip to the toy store. We looked at Lincoln Logs, K-NEX and many other toys. I found the products that most interested my kids and bought at least six of them—one for each workday.
There’s a designated day and time when my children can play with each of these special toys. They’re limited to once a week, but that’s what makes the toys so much fun—they literally can’t wait for work-time on Monday because they get to play with building blocks, or Tuesday because they can play with Littlest Pet Shop. I know this might sound overboard to some parents, but it works for us. The kids don’t get sick of these designated toys anymore, and they enjoy my work-time.
I set a timer, and after we’ve finished working I praise my children for a “job well-done.” Then they get a sticker to put on the schedule.
This really works!
Tip 3: Help Your Children Feel Involved & Stay Consistent
Even using these great ideas, kids get bored easily. Don’t forget to take work breaks. Whether you’re just giving your children positive reinforcement, new play ideas, or telling them they’re loved, it’s always good to remember that kids are still young and growing. They need validation. Sometimes a small hug, or simply taking a few seconds to bring your kids their favorite snack, can mean so much. These little moments will make the day continue running smoothly, because the key to being a successful work-at-home parent is to help your children feel involved. Tell them you’re working toward a goal together, and it’s amazing, but they’ll really want to help Mommy or Daddy succeed.
It’s equally important to stay consistent. One thing my children love most about our routine is that they know what’s coming. We work during the same time every day. They know what toys will be played with on certain days. This gives them a sense of control and comfort. By feeling that control, they’re much more understanding about what Mommy or Daddy has to do that day. On some days I swear my little boy thinks that he made the work schedule—but that’s great, it means that even though I have to work at home, he can still feel just as involved, important and loved.
I hope these tips will help you. They’ve done wonders for me in the last six years. I’ve found that working at home can be stressful, but it can also be fun, when using the right routines.
Good luck and happy parenting.