More and more mums are working from home and running their own businesses, but how do they keep their professional life from interfering with their parenting and vice-versa? asks Corryn Barakat, the founder of Milk and Love.
The secret to successfully combining your business and parenthood is to create boundaries between work and home, build a village of support, and revise what success means to you. Let’s see how that can work in practice.
Communication 101 With A Baby
Every mum who’s been at home on a call has found at some point that her children suddenly create an interruption that’s impossible to ignore. So, what do you?
For day to day communication we recommend you begin by owning up to your situation. Explain to your clients, colleagues, etc. that you work from home and that while you try to keep things flowing during calls, sometimes your kids need your attention immediately.
We’ve found that if you’re upfront about this, that nobody minds. In fact, they’re often very supportive if you have to cut things short for your kids. (This is doubly true if the person you’re dealing with is also a parent because they’ve been there too).
On the flip side, if you know you have an important meeting coming up then make sure you have someone else to care for your kids and work with the door closed (and locked!). If possible, you can book into a co-working space and get out of the house entirely. Let your caregiver know that you have important calls that can’t be interrupted unless there is a medical emergency.
Babies And Meetings: Can You Bring Your Children To A Meeting?
We’ve all heard how productive meetings on the move can be (Steve Jobs was a huge fan of walking meetings!), and happily this works well with young children as well! Grab the pram and head out for your next one-on-one meeting and get your ideas flowing.
If you must have a sit-down meeting, think about options for your child. If there is no other caregiver available, then work out how your child will stay happy and busy with minimal attention from you. Can you have the meeting at a playground location or a café with play equipment? Can you bring snacks for your child?
If you just can’t avoid taking a child to a meeting, let people know what you intend to do ahead of time. Get their feedback on how to make the meeting work best in these circumstances.
Explain anything that you feel will help the meeting go more easily from your end too.
After the meeting, seek people’s feedback and ensure that you take anything valuable on board. There’s no reason a child shouldn’t be able to sit/sleep through a meeting and if that’s how things turn out – people are more likely to be supportive of your choices to bring them to work in future too.
When Baby’s Not Feeling Great: How To Deal With A Sick Baby And Your Work
There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is a great time to call on your village. Can your partner take the day off work? Is there other family or close friends that can help out? Can you work for only part of the day (or take the day off altogether)? In cases of extended illness you need to allocate your time and the available time of other caregivers and work with what you have.
Don’t be afraid to use some modern conveniences to take care of your sick child. For example, you can always consult a telephone doctor’s service in the first instance and your baby doesn’t need hospital or a check-up.
It’s fine to get medicine delivered from online or telephone ordering services too. You don’t need to desert your home office for these things.
However, if you have a client meeting scheduled or anything that requires you be away from home at a time when you have no alternative caregivers; it’s time to be direct. Pick up the phone, explain exactly why you can’t come, offer an estimated time when you can get things done and then stop worrying.
Most people are not going to give you a hard time for caring for a sick child. Those that do? You might want to seriously consider whether you want to work with them in the future. Your children come first. Don’t feel bad about it.
Use boundaries to created dedicated time for your family, and dedicated time for your work. Trying to do both at the same time is a recipe for getting nothing done. Nurture your village of support so you can lean on others to help out when you need it. Remember that you are not the only person available to look after your kids, and kids benefit from having close relationships with other adults. For the control freaks among us, remember that if someone else is looking after your kids, put in your headphones and don’t try to get them to do things your way! Let it go and use the time to focus on your work.
Finally, the best tip is to revise what success means to you. Babies grow up quickly, so if you can scale back your work to enjoy this stage while it lasts you won’t regret it! Change your expectations and enjoy each stage as it happens. It’s not as hard to balance the needs of your children with the needs of your job as long as you take action to minimize the impact of one on the other. You can be a great parent and a super professional. We have faith in you.