As half-term swings around once again, many parents who work for themselves will be trying to keep their business going whilst also spending time with their little ones – indeed, many parents balance these demands all the time. Helen Keightley, a real business mum, gives her tips on how to work from home with children around.
Working from home is hard enough in itself but even more demanding as a self-employed mother of young twin boys!
I’m sure many of you reading this will empathise with me. I am the owner of Bambino Beads Limited, designing and making children’s bespoke jewellery. I am a new company so I am therefore trying to spend as much time as possible getting up and running. Not only do I make all the products, I design and maintain my website, do all my own PR and advertising and try not to spend all day tweeting!
The pressures of working from home can be tremendously demanding with split loyalties between your home and your work.
For example, do you send that email or just put another load of washing in, or maybe start to think about what you will be having for tea tonight? Devote quality time to the children or just push the vacuum around for 20 minutes? It is very hard when you are sitting at home trying to work and you can physically see the household jobs mounting up around you and can hear the children calling to be entertained. Of course, you don’t want your children to feel abandoned and resent you for always working.
My children are at an age now (five) where I can say to them, “Mummy just needs to send a few messages” and they understand that means half an hour on the computer! I try to sit with them while they are playing and respond to emails from my telephone in between reading stories to them, playing snakes and ladders or building lego houses. If I didn’t do this, my business would suffer, as would my time with the children.
I think it is important during longer holiday periods that you try and plan ahead and make time for both your family and your work. My top tips are:
• Find out about local play schemes where you are able to leave your children for a few hours – local leisure centres normally run activity days for a cost of approximately £3 per child. Not only do you get time to run your business, your children have a great time and don’t feel like they are being ignored!
• Batch cook meals the week before – I normally try and do some batch cooking, such as spaghetti Bolognese, braised steak, casseroles etc. that can be frozen and simply defrosted as needed. This leaves you more time to spend with your children rather than slaving over the cooker for hours!
• Block out times, i.e. a whole morning or afternoon, in your diary where you turn your phone off, don’t check your emails and devote your time just to your children. You will feel like the best mum and your children will love you for it. You can easily make up those few hours in an evening when they’ve gone to bed.
• Exchange child-sitting with friends who work too – if you know of other mums in business, why not offer to help each other out by taking care of each other’s children for a couple of hours at a time? Not only will you be helping each other but your children will get to play with their friends too.
You are in business to build a better and secure future for yourself and your children. At the same time, your children are only young once so enjoy as much of their growing up as you can – before they can shout at you for always working!
Find out more about Helen's business at www.bambinobeads.co.uk