Dad trying to work with kids.

Finding a balance between work and family is vital when working from home.

If you have a family – especially toddlers – working from home can be difficult.  It’s easy to be distracted with family members in the house making noise, interrupting you to ask questions, coming in and out of your home office, etc.  It’s also very easy to constantly think about work and neglect spending time with your family.

There are several measures you can take to keep you and your family sane and to ensure you get enough work done to pay the mortgage.

  • Establish boundaries. Keep a set schedule and have a set place to work.  Tell your family that you are “at work” during these times or when your home office door is closed.  Tell them not to interrupt you unless it’s an emergency.
  • Make sure your family understands how important your business is to you. This is simple: just be honest.  Tell your family that your business is important, not only for your happiness, but also to keep a roof over their heads.  If you have young children, you might tell them that your work is important so you can buy them toys.  🙂
  • Be flexible if you’re a stay-at-home parent. If you have toddlers running around, you will probably have to take frequent breaks.  This isn’t such a bad thing, as a break can refresh you and allow your kid(s) to go another stretch of time without  you.
  • Work when your family is sleeping or busy. Get up early or stay up late to work when everyone else is sleeping.  Try to be flexible and work any time you have a spare moment, like during the kids’ afternoon nap or evening play rehearsal.

  • Get help from your spouse. This seems like an obvious point, but it still can be hard.  If your spouse is gone at work all day, you could watch the kids during the day and then your spouse can watch them while you work evenings.  The important thing is to help each other and work it out as a team.
  • If your business is struggling, get additional help. It might seem silly to pay for a nanny or babysitter when you are home anyway, but if your business is not making ends meet because you’re too distracted, it might be worth it.
  • Keep a balance between work and family. This is easier said than done, and honestly it just takes practice.  Working at home blurs the line between work and play.  It’s easy to work too much and it’s just as easy to play too much.  You have to find your own balance where you can get enough work done to pay the bills and also spend meaningful time with your family.  While you’re figuring this out, I recommend keeping a spreadsheet that records what you do every 30 or 60 minutes of the work day.  This makes it really easy to see if you are balancing your time well.

There’s a lot to juggle when working from home with a family, especially if you have small kids.  Implement the ideas above as best you can, maintain a balance to avoid burnout, and you’ll be fine.  It may be hectic, but remember to enjoy it!  That’s why you are self-employed and why you started a family: because both are enjoyable and enrich your life.