Home Based Business For Busy Parents

September 29, 2008

Working from home isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be – especially when there are children in the mix! Scraping spaghetti-o’s, off the ceiling when you’re up against a deadline might make you laugh, but it really does happen when you work at home with your kids. If you want the best of both worlds then there are some definite things you can do to make life easier, and make your time at home with your kids more enjoyable.

Stick to a Schedule:

It’s easy to slip into a non-structured life when you are at home all the time. This won’t be good for you, or your little ones. Use timers to keep everyone sane. Set the time for an hour, and then tell your child (if they are old enough) that when that timer goes off you will have lunch, or some on-on-one play time, or whatever. Make sure you and your little ones get to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning. The more you can treat your at-home job like a normal 9 to 5 job, the easier it will be.

Face Your Finances:

Most people who stay at home take a pay cut to do so. Even if you don’t take a pay cut, there are still some complications that will come up while you work from home. If you are freelancing, or running a home based business, then your income could be unpredictable. Clients will sometimes pay late, or you may not earn the same amount of money from one month to the next. This can make budgeting very difficult.

If you are running your own business from home you will have to worry about your family’s finances, and your businesses’ finances.

There are a few things you can do to help overcome the unpredictability:

  1. Have good budgeting software – Whether you use Quicken, QuickBooks, YNAB, or any other software, set aside a small amount of time each day to keep your records straight. The last thing you want to do is forget to invoice someone, or lose a customer’s credit card number.
  2. Have a set place to put your paperwork – Take it from someone who has found important paperwork underneath her laundry detergent. It’s best to have a filing cabinet, an inbox, or a strategic place that is just for your important business papers. It should be an out of the way spot that is unlikely to attract the attention of sticky hands or prying in-laws.
  3. Keep an Accurate Calendar – It’s ok to put business and family activities on the same calendar, since you are now incorporating business and family together every day. You can use a different color marker, or stickers, or anything you want to designate activities, but do keep the calendar.

    It’s easy to let payments, deadlines and details pass you buy if you aren’t careful. Keeping an accurate calendar is just like keeping your invoices and payments straight. Boring, but vital to the survival of your home based business.

Plan Your Vacations:

When you work a regular 9-5 job, you get vacation time, and sick leave. When you work from home you do not. The very best advice that I can give you is do not let your work take up all of your time. If you find yourself working late into the night, working all day on the weekends, or otherwise cutting into your family time, then it’s time to see what you can change.

When I first started working from home, it was a little overwhelming. I was used to quitting at the end of the day, coming home, and doing our usual routine. All of a sudden, that routine was gone. I could work whenever I wanted to, yes, but I actually found myself working more hours per day. I would let little interruptions through the day distract me (“Mama, I’m hungry“, “Mama, I’m bored!“, “Honey could you log online and check the bank account?“) and then I found myself working late into the night to make up the time. That is why I say, have that schedule first, keep an iron fist on your money, and have an accurate calendar – or it will all fall down around your ears.

Also, if the kids become too much to handle during the day, consider hiring an in-house baby sitter to come for a few hours a week. It will cost more, but you may find that you get more of your work done faster with a little help.

Regrettably, there is no real “recipe for success” here. You are going to have to find the balance that works best for you and your family. Staying on schedule, and being organized really is the key. If you can do that, everything will fall into place, and you will be able to enjoy the extra time at home with your kids – like it was meant to be in the first place!


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