Summer is upon us. If your kids are still in school, it won't be long now before their summer break begins. It's always been a time of year I look forward to and dread, all at the same time. I love the time I get to spend with my kids and the acitivities we get to do together in the summer, but I dread the impact having them around all the time has on my business.
I know that probably 99% of my readers are also moms (like me) and find that running a business while parenting their children is a daily struggle. During my live events, I ask for a show of hands of how many of them started their direct sales business because of their children (to be home with them, have more flexibility, etc). Almost every hand in the room goes up. Then I ask for a show of hands of anyone who feels like now their direct sales business keeps them from their children or takes away from their parenting time. Again, every hand in the room generally goes up. The very reason you started your business can become the thing you sacrifice when your business starts to take over your life.
So, I've assembled 5 tips that may make it easier (at least on some days) to find the balance between work and children. Some of these tips may only work if your kids are old enough to reason with (Okay, I know I question whether or not my 15 year old falls into that category sometimes, but you get my drift).
Decide when you're going to work, let your kids know, and then STICK TO YOUR COMMITMENT TO THEM. Kid's generally behave much better if they know what to expect. Set office hours and let your kids know when you're working. Then (if you're really brave), give them permission to tell you to stop working if you're in your office when you're not supposed to be.
Make sure your kids understand the importance of what you're doing (and make sure you're doing important things while you're "working"). I was a single mom for most of my self employed life and my boys have always understood the importance of what I do (as in, if I can't do my job, we don't have a house to live in, food to eat, or new skate boards that are ridiculously expensive). They get it and they generally respect my time. Now, if you're sitting on Facebook playing Farm Town or chatting on the phone about what happened on America's Got Talent last night, they might just wonder how important your work really is. So stay in integrity with them (and yourself) and if you say you're working, make sure you're working.
If your kids are little, find something for them to do while you work (besides watching TV or playing video games). A few great ideas that worked well for me? I had a box full of cool toys that they only got to play with when I was on the phone. I took the box down when I started making phone calls and they were done playing with those toys when I finished my phone calls. It got to the point where they looked forward to me being on the phone for business because it meant they got to play with the Play Dough or have a water balloon fight.
Get your kids involved. I'm sure you've heard this before, but I'm recommending you take it to the next level. One of my clients years ago actually had her children choose large items that they really wanted (something like an Easy Bake Oven or a new bike) and she offered them as incentive prizes. They posted photos of their chosen treasures right alongside the photo of her incentive trip and tracked their progress with huge glass jars. Every time they behaved in a way that supported her business (like being quiet while she was on the phone or not crying when she left to do a party) they received $1.00 toward their prize. If they stepped it up and actively helped her (like putting labels on catalogs or putting stamps on envelopes) they got $2.00. The money went in the jar and they were able to actually visually track their progress toward that coveted item.
- Use a timer. This tip worked great for one of my clients as well. She would tell her children she needed to get on the phone or the computer, that she was going to work for 20 minutes, and she would set an egg timer for 20 minutes. She told them once the timer went off, as long as they were quiet and let her work during her time, she promised she would spend 20 minutes with them, playing or reading or going for a bike ride, whatever they wanted. She could easily get several stress-free, uninterrupted hours of work done each day, 20 minutes at a time. (You may need to adjust this time either up or down, depending upon the ages of your kids).
Even though these are great ideas, just know that there are going to be days when nothing works and you just have Calgon moment after Calgon moment. You may even (gasp!) end up yelling at your kids. The greatest advice I can give you when that happens is to chalk it up to the fact that you're only human, forgive yourself, apologize to your kids (ALWAYS apologize to your kids!) and move on with your life.
So, I think it would be great if you shared some of your ideas with us. How do you work around your kids and still stay productive?
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Julie Anne Jones is a well known direct sales keynote speaker, corporate consultant, coach, and trainer. For nearly ten years, she's been sharing her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and tools for success with direct sellers all over the world, both live from the stage and through social media and internet training. To learn more about Julie Anne, her products and services, and to read more blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.