This article was first published in Flying Solo in June 2008. See the article here.
I currently have two jobs: one job is paid for with money, and the other with love. This article provides five rules to help working parents.
I am a working parent and, like many other solo business owners, I combine working from my third bedroom, also referred to as my “office” to clients, with changing nappies, making peanut butter sandwiches and reading Peter Rabbit for the zillionth time.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, but to make both jobs succeed I have to abide by these five rules:
1. Designate work and family days
It doesn’t matter whether you work full-time or part-time, Monday to Friday or any other combination; what matters is that everyone, including you, knows which days you will be working. It’s good for your child/ren to know when they will spend time with you. If I have to work while my son is at home, which is inevitable sometimes, I set a deadline for how long I will work (for two hours while he sleeps, for example). I then try very hard to stick to it.
2. Don’t feel guilty about childcare
I don’t want to start a childcare debate here, but I think childcare is good. To work effectively you need a certain amount of undisturbed time. I use a combination of family care and formal day care. This way my son gets to spend quality time with his grandparents, as well as develop with a peer group. Meantime I get four days a week in which to work and three days to be a mum.
3. Switch off when you’re not working
Try not to work on your designated family days, that way you will feel as if you’ve had a break. Your family will also feel like they have your undivided attention and it’s a great opportunity to do activities together, like swimming classes, going to the library for story time or visiting the park.
4. Set aside work space
While not necessarily a point for working parents only, it is important to have “work” space and “home” space if your office shares the same address as your house. However if working with your child/ren at home with you, I recommend making space for them within your office so they can be near you. I have toys in my office to amuse my son while I am working.
5. Embrace both rolesI
t is easy as a working parent to feel you are slacking off as a parent, or in your business, or both. The best solution to this is to remember why you started your business in the first place. Whether it was to follow an innovative idea, stop commuting, remove yourself from office politics, or spend more time with your family; whatever your reason it pays to remind yourself so you stay focussed.And if that doesn’t work, I always find a hug from my son reminds me that he loves me and thinks I’m great at what I do!