Why toddlers and computers do not mix – what to avoid when you work from home

I should have seen it coming.  It was a glorious hot summer’s day and I’d promised the kids a picnic in the park.  But the temptation to check my Inbox was far too strong.

As any homeworking parent knows too well, juggling work and the summer holidays is no mean feat.  You have to somehow entertain the kids, keep them out of mischief and keep your work ticking along at the same time.

work from home - what to avoid when working from home

It’s simply easier to keep the computer switched on.  That way, you can sneak in some work while they’re quietly watching daytime telly.

“Mummy’s just finishing off this one thing, darlings.  Won’t be a moment.”

We’ve all done it, haven’t we.

But as we all know, it never stops at just one thing, however hard you try.  One thing seems to lead to another, and then another, until before you know it, a whole hour has slipped by!

And that was my downfall.

I’d pushed that one quick thing just a bit too far.

By the time I had finally torn myself away from the computer and tiptoed into the kitchen to pack lunch for the picnic, one two-year-old little madam was clearly very hacked off.

I waltzed back into the living room, feeling quite proud of myself that it was still only one o’clock in the afternoon.  We could still get a decent picnic in after all.

But my triumph turned into confusion at the sight of 36 little black tiles scattered all over the floor, and then into horror, at the sight of little madam and her ‘Handy Manny’ toy screwdriver hovering over the keyboard.

True story!

That was four years ago, but it’s a lesson I have never forgotten.

Toddlers and computers do not mix.   Get an office!

So in celebration of  Work From Home Week, that – and these 4 other tips – is what you should avoid when you work from home.

 

A Lack of Boundaries and Balance

Creating a physical boundary between office and living space, would have gone a long way in preventing the unfortunate mishap I found myself in four years ago.

If you don’t have a dedicated room as your office, make a point of letting your kids know that ‘this is mummy’s or daddy’s work area’ and that it’s VERY important, so do not touch.

Better still, treat yourself to attractive office accessories, such as filing trays, letter trays, storage boxes, etc, as this will serve as a visual reminder as to what’s off limits.

Having a dedicated office space will help you to be more productive too, as you’ll feel more inclined to get into work mode, and not lounge mode.

 

Little Or No Routine

You obviously don’t need a rigid timetable.  You’re in charge of your working day, so you can pretty much work whatever hours you want.

But conversely, this could also work against you, as if you’re not careful, you could have a haphazard approach to your working day –  a little bit here, a little bit there and then knock off for another cuppa.

I’m usually up by 5:00/5:30am to make a start before the kids wake up.  Once they’re at school, I’ll work solidly until 3pm, when it’s time to collect them again.  I may continue working at 8pm once the younger ones are in bed, but I tend not to work much past 9pm anymore.  My mind clouds into a fuzzy, foggy mess after that, so I wouldn’t be very productive anyway.

I don’t think it matters how many hours you work – whether you favour a long working day or a short one.   After all, work doesn’t feel like work if you’re loving every minute of it.

It’s more important to create a routine that you and the family are happy with, and one that is both productive and profitable for your business.

You won’t build a profitable business if you’re wasting two/three hours a day chatting with your mates on your social platforms – that’s for sure!

 

No Support Network

Working from home can leave you feeling isolated, so don’t neglect professional networking – both online and off.

I’ve found from personal experience, that not everyone in your immediate family or circle of friends gets why you work for yourself.  “What! No paid holidays, no paid gym memberships, no subsidised travel?”  (Let’s face it, they probably think you’re not really working!)

So do surround yourself with like-minded, self-motivated, g0-getters, just like you.  People who understand how tough it is trying to make a living from something you’ve created out of nothing.

Don’t neglect your social network offline, either.  All work and no play makes Jack or Jill very dull indeed.  So book time in to catch up with friends and family, so that you can properly unwind and recharge the old batteries.

 

No Quality ‘Me’ Time

An important part of successfully running a business is being able to take a step away from it all, in order to make important decisions about your future.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 year’s time?  What plans are you making for growth?  That doesn’t have to mean business growth – you might decide that you want to keep your business small, which is perfectly fine.  But what about your personal growth and development, what opportunities are you allowing for yourself to improve emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, or physically.

You owe it to yourself to explore those opportunities when they arise.  You can’t if you spend all day, every day buried deep in busywork.

Why not mark a day in your diary – almost like booking a special appointment with yourself – when you spend a little time alone.  Just you, your thoughts and a Journal, so that you can reconnect with your goals and plans for the future.

 

And in the meantime, keep the kids away from the computer!

 

About Mary Cummings

Mary Cummings is a business woman, mentor, writer and mum of three, dedicated to helping aspiring parent 'preneurs start and run their own successful businesses - whether it's monetising a hobby or starting a business from scratch - her aim is to help them do it successfully and profitably.

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