I don’t know how many of you work from home but the challenges that come with it are monumental, especially when you have a 3-year old running around. Shortly after my son was born, I decided to return to college to pursue a long uncompleted bachelor’s degree and my wife and I made a decision that I would stay home with my son to save money on day care. So basically I have been a stay-at-home dad and full-time student for the last 25 months and as my son has gotten older I have learned a lot about working from home with kids present. Â As I near graduation I’m also trying to develop a business from home so it looks like this will continue until my son starts school and I wanted to share what I’ve learned to see if it can help others.
You need to work when they sleep
When he was little this was easier but as he got older the nap periods got shorter and my productivity suffered. It helps if you set a schedule early so they know when nap time is and you know when you will be able to knock out some work. You can also get more work in at night after the kids have gone to bed.
Get out of the house, often!
A couple of days a week I work from a coffee shop after my wife gets home from work. I’m writing this now from one of those coffee shops. If you can afford it, hire a babysitter for a few hours a week during the day to get some free time. Sometimes a local church may have a Mom’s Day Out program that offer’s inexpensive childcare during the middle of the day. I found one near my house that is $20/day for about 3 hours of childcare from 11-2.
Find other people to interact with
When you work in an office you get to bounce ideas off other people. You learn from interacting with your peers and you lose that when you work from home.
The last point is a big one for me. I’m not a very social person and don’t work well in an office environment. I don’t do office politics well and I tend to be more interested in working for me than a boss or a company, but I digress. I need a group of like-minded people that I can learn from and bounce ideas off of.Â Social networks are great for this but they can be huge time waster, too. How many times have you gotten on Twitter or Facebook and 2 or 3 hours went by? I found something better. Forums!
Now I can see you saying, “Chris, forums are so Web 1.0!”. Yes they are, but they were the original wiki. The knowledge contained in a forum centered around a specific niche or industry is astounding. You can drop in when you want and search all the discussion post for an area you are stuck on and you wil likely find an answer. If you can’t find the answer, you can post a question to the forum and get input from all the members. This allows you to learn from other people and get that back and forth of bouncing ideas off each other that is so beneficial.
Another problem area is motivation
When you work from home you need to be self-motivated. It’s real easy to lay on the couch and take a nap or turn on a good action movie on Netflix when the kid is sleeping. No one is going to make you write that blog post or browse the forum looking for info on how to draft up a contract. I get around this with personal development products.
I’m a really big fan of personal development. I watched The Secret, read a few Tony Robbins books, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and they have really helped me figure out why I do certain things. Once I knew why, I could plan for that and work on changing that behavior.
I recently started an internship for a company that is doing a Groupon-style site that sells personal development products. I only bring it up because this week our product is Chris Brogan‘s (Dad-O-Matic’s founder) Kitchen Table Companies(KTC). This site is the forum for people like myself, people building a business from home. Whether you are working from a home office or the kitchen table while the kids are sleeping you can now get advice from other’s doing the same.
KTC is place where you can go to get that motivation and the forums are a place to interact with other work-at-home moguls like yourself. Normally Kitchen Table Companies is $47/month but right now at DailySuccessDeals.com we are offering the first month for $9.97. I’m not going to go into a sales pitch you can go check out the site yourself and see the testimonials from current members. I think for the price of 2 cups of Starbucks you get a chance to try it out and see if you get value from tapping the knowledge of others who have gone before you.
(Disclosure: I am an unpaid intern for DailySuccessDeals.com and Dad-O-Matic is not being compensated in any way for running this post.)