For many parents, the ideal combination of career and family is to work at home part time while caring for their children. Finding the right combination of childcare and workload is key, as well as researching the details of starting a small business. Here’s some tips for parents who want to set up a successful home business or take on part time work out of their home while caring for their children.
Determine Where You Will Work
Separating work and leisure time can be a challenge for anyone who works from home, but is especially difficult for parents who have demands pop up from their children at unexpected times. If you can, set aside a specific room, desk or corner as your workspace and tell your family that when you are there you are not to be interrupted. This will be easier for older children to understand and agree with, so flexibility is required with preschool kids who need more individual attention from you.
Finding Additional Child Care
When you know how much time you will need to manage your workload, ask yourself whether you will need some additional childcare to help you meet those hours. Don’t forget to schedule some downtime for yourself as well. If you need to work every hour in the evening after your children have gone to bed, parent burnout can set in quickly. A nanny share or childcare swap can be a great way to get a few hours a week to focus on work with minimal childcare costs.
Finding the Right Kind of Work
Choosing what kind of work you want to do from home depends on your individual talents and previous work experience to some extent, but working from home can also be a great time to try out a new career path. Working as a freelancer can be a good option for parents with skills in computer programming, web design, editing, writing, graphic design or photography. Medical and legal transcription can also be done from home. Be wary of any work from home scheme that requires you to buy large amounts of product to sell to others or anything that asks you to pay money up front for work opportunities as these are usually scams.
Starting Your Own Business
Many parents who work from home run their own business. Starting a small business can give you the autonomy and freedom that you need when balancing work and parenting, but it’s important to get good information on what is required from small business owners in your country. Canada Business is a government website that provides information for current and potential entrepreneurs in Canada. U.S. Small Business Administration provides information for small businesses in the United States.
Working from home has unique challenges for parents. It is especially important to be a self-starter and to be committed to actually working during the time you have set aside for work, instead of relaxing or catching up on housework. There will be times when a child gets sick just when you’ve got a big deadline coming up. Despite the challenges, working from home can be a good way to find the right balance between career and family for many parents.
By taking the time to set aside clear time and space for your work, working at something that fits your life and researching your government’s requirements for small businesses if you choose to run a small business from home, working from home can be a dream come true.
Originally published on Suite101 on Jan 16, 2009