Q • I've been working from my home for one month and am having problems with keeping my kids busy during my work hours. This is not what I expected it to be. It's harder than I would have imagined. How can I have some sort of balance between work and kids at least four days a week?
From a reader • If you can hire a babysitter to watch the kids while you work, it will make things much easier as it gives you the time you need to stay focused. I work from home and cringed at the thought of having to find someone to watch my kids so I could have uninterrupted time for work, but once I did it, everything fell into place. - Catherine S. in Norfolk, Virginia
From Jodie Lynn • Whether you're working from home for someone else or for your own personal business, having kids underfoot while trying to do so can be a slippery slope. You're definitely going to have to find a way to have a set schedule, hopefully without too many interruptions. Finding someone to help watch the kids and keep them on a schedule of their own — and away from you — during work hours is extremely important, as the reader above suggested.
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Depending on your kids' ages, you might be able to get away with a neighborhood teenager who already has babysitting experience.
Here are some other suggestions that might work:
Prioritize. Have set goals every day. Write them down and mark them off as they're done. This helps to not only know what you want to get done but also gives you the feeling of making headway.
Stay organized. Being at home makes some people feel like they don't need to be as organized as they were at the office. However, it's still highly important, if not more so. Organization comes natural for some but for people like myself, it can present challenges.
Take mini breaks. Taking a short break here and there throughout the day can be a lifesaver. Even if it's just to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water or perhaps just to stand up and stretch, remember to do it. Don't forget to eat lunch, either. It's important to eat in a different room, if possible. Sometimes when we take a little breather away from our work, we can think a bit better when we go back to it.
Allow for a couple of interruptions. No matter how organized or focused you are, there is always a chance that the unexpected will occur, especially if there are kids at home. The most important thing is to remember not to get too emotional or overwhelmed if something does come up. The last thing you need to do is have an explosion around your kids. Having patience and showing them how not to have a meltdown in the face of an unexpected disruption is crucial.
CAN YOU HELP?
A couple of our neighbors have asked our soon-to-be 11-year-old son if he wants to mow their back and front yards. They're offering him $40. He's very excited and thinks he can do it but he only has a little experience in mowing. Is this something we should let him try or is he a little young?
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Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.