Although many women work from home to spend time with their children, the kids sometimes make it difficult to meet deadlines or complete assignments. Below are some tips from Ladies Who Launch members on keeping both your little ones and your finicky clients happy.
Use Nap Time Wisely
If you're lucky enough to have kids who nap, take advantage of the hour or two that napping affords you. "I work during naptime so I don't have to split my focus between work and my kids," says Joanne C. Jensen of Boston, who runs M&E Ideas, LLC. As the naps get shorter, "work in 10-minute intervals," she advises, "so at least you get one thing on your to-do list accomplished." And don't feel bad about breaking out the DVDs on occasion. Most importantly, "remember that the days are long, but the years are short," she says. "Children grow up so quickly. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and restricted by the lack of time, focus on laying the foundation now so when the children go off to school you're ready to swing into action."
Invest in a Sitter
It may seem like an unnecessary expense given the fact you're home, but hiring a sitter a few mornings or afternoons a week will give you time to reply to important emails or complete assignments that require your full attention. "It's almost like I store up the work and inspiration -- prewriting, I guess -- so that as soon as my daughter, Willa, is occupied, I go to work like a bullet," says journalist and author Gayle Forman. Still, sitters don't solve all of your problems. "When I'm home, Willa wants to be with me. I can't work from home if she's home, and interviews are out of the question." That's why when the going gets tough, the tough get going -- to Starbucks or the nearest Internet cafe.
Consider Day Care
Kimberly Silk had her son, Tom, 2, home with her until he was 14 months old, and up until that point she worked part-time during his naps and after his bedtime. But as he got older and more curious, it became increasingly difficult. "I was sleep-deprived and felt I wasn't doing anything well. Home life and business life both suffered, so I began putting Tom into day care three days a week, then four. Now he's there full-time." Silk says the setup works for her, though families with more children may save money by hiring a full-time nanny.
Make Every Day "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work" Day
Rather than locking her 4-year-old daughter, Sunny, out of her workspace, Nichole Hirsch Kuechle of Minneapolis, who runs My Healthy Beginning, LLC, has encouraged her daughter to work alongside her since she was an infant. "At first the space within my office closet provided her a little nook, as she likes forts and quiet corners," Kuechle says. She also hung a clear plastic hanging shoe storage bag from the closet door, so Sunny had access to crayons, old envelopes, and small pads of paper. When her daughter was 2 1/2, Kuechle gave her a broken-down laptop that she placed on a small table alongside her desk (which slides neatly under it at night), so Sunny would have her own workspace. "I feel it's important for her to see me both as a mother and as someone with an important work life," says Kuechle, "and I love including her in that world."
Text by Michele Shapiro