I work full time outside of the home. (Staying home is a career choice, not a moral imperative; please don't criticize my choice to bring home the bacon, and I won't criticize your choice to fry it up in pan, so to speak.) It works well for our family, except during the rare times when my husband is out of town and my kids are also out of school. That happened a few weeks ago, at a point when I couldn't get time off from work. The solution: request permission to work part of the week from home. With my kids there. On deadline.
It seems like a good time to revisit the whole "working from home with your kids but without losing your mind" idea. Here's are a few ways to manage without adversely affecting a.) your liver or b.) your reputation. Keep reading for my tips.
1. Give them some work of their own. My 5-year-old, a newly-minted kindergartener, is thrilled with the idea of homework. Hahahaha! That'll change. But for now, I'm going with it. I've downloaded a ton of stuff from some of my favorite educational websites for kids, and tossed in a Kindergarten-level word-search or 70. She works on them while I work on, um, this. My 3-year-old? He's into drawing pictures and playing with matchbox cars, both of which he can do under my desk — fine, the kitchen table — while I work.
2. Make a schedule (and share it with your kids). Work is, well, work. And kids are, well, kids. Kids — especially little ones — don't understand why the work is so important. Rather than make them feel second-best, tell them that you're going to spend half an hour doing whatever they want, and then you have to spend an equal amount of time (or more) doing the work thing. Be prepared, however, to do at least a some of your work with a 3-year-old on your lap.
3. Break out the goodies. No, not candy. Keep a box of small toys, puzzles, coloring books, and activities handy — ones that your kids don't usually get to play with. The novelty makes them "special," and "special" means that they'll hold your kids' attention longer — which means that you can get a little more done.
4. Employ electronics. Now is not the time to worry about keeping the TV off or the Nintendo DS under lock and key. Yes, watching back-to-back (to-back-to-back) episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba isn't ideal, but it won't hurt them much (really — studies say so). So break out the Wii and let them have a tournament. It's OK.
5. Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Late last week, with school back in session but my husband still away on business, I had to go into the office — there was no way around it. And my youngest son spiked a 102.3-degree fever at preschool. I had to ask a friend — a breadwinning working mom like me — to pick up my boy for me. She works around the corner from the school; I work 90-minutes away with traffic. I felt horrible having to ask for such a favor, but she understood and was happy to help. She knows I'd do it for her in a heartbeat. Your friends get what you're up against; lean on them if you have to, whether you're stuck in traffic or facing deadline from home, and be willing to be leaned on sometime down the line.
— Lylah M. Alphonse
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