It is quite difficult to do two duties: to work full-time and be a caring, involved parent. The key to successful management lies in disciplined schedules and time management skills. Find ways to do both successfully here.
Negotiating for flexible hours
Leaving your current employment may not necessarily have to be a pre-requisite to shifting your office to your home. Depending on the nature of your job, and the work culture of your organisation, you can always negotiate for flexible hours or work schedules even while with your present job.
An effective way to achieve this is to communicate the proposal from your employer's point of view. Help your boss see how the benefits that such an arrangement would bring to the company will outweigh any adjustments that may need to be made. Work out a contract whereby you are required to attend office for a set minimum number of hours in a week, or certain days in a week. Thankfully, many employers today themselves realise the potential advantages of granting employees greater flexibility and your boss may actually think that it is a great idea. If not, well, at least you tried.
Cashing in on your skills
What are the opportunities available to parents who wish to make the shift? The best options, say career consultants, are those where you can apply the knowledge and skills that you have already acquired in your current job. Whether you are a financial researcher, marketing consultant, editor, or graphics designer, find out avenues open to you to market your talents. Surf the internet, scour the Yellow Pages, and make a list of the companies or organisations that you think are likely to require your services. Then, get together an impressive resume, and contact them. Show them samples of your work, or projects you have handled in the past, to convince them of your ability to deliver.
Making ends meet
Many parents are attracted to the option of working from home, but doubt whether the returns will be adequate. They fear that they may never be able to equal what they are earning from their current employment. While this is not necessarily true, working from home also provides you with a great opportunity to save money. Working couples often run up a huge bill paying for the various services dictated by their working lives. Working from home means that many of these expenses are eliminated and this itself can make working from home quite viable.
Areas where you stand to save costs may include:
- Day childcare, either in the form of a creche or a nanny
- Domestic help, including a cook, chauffeur, maid, etc.
- Transport or commuting to and from work
- Eating out or ordering meals
- Labour saving options such as ready-to-eat meals, etc.
Making it work
These are some tips to make working from home work for you.
Plan and maintain a routine: Maintaining regular 'office hours' is always a good practice, even if you are working from home! If you think that being your own boss will allow you the luxury of working to suit your moods or impulses, think again. People who successfully run home-based ventures agree that disciplined schedules and time management skills are absolutely essential. Where you benefit, of course, is in the flexibility that allows you to plan a daily schedule to accommodate your family's routines. For instance, you can time your lunch hour to pick up your child from school, or take a break in the evenings to take your child out to play.
Have a special workplace: Working from home should not mean that you laze around on your couch with your laptop. Convert a room, or a corner of your home, into an office or work desk. This will not only help you get into the mood for work, but is also important to let your children know that you are working. Allow your children to be around as long as they learn to keep quiet and not disturb your papers and things. Keeping some 'office toys' such as a toy phone, computer, paper and pens is an excellent way to encourage them to imitate you and pretend to be busy so that you can work without being disturbed.
Encourage children to help: If you have somewhat older children, you can always encourage them to help with your work. You can teach them to turn on and shut off your computer, or file papers with your help. They will enjoy the sense of importance that comes with it, as well as start learning the skills that they will require as they grow up.