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How to Work From Home with a Child

Sometimes food is a necessary incentive to keep the kiddos quiet long enough to make a phone call!

Sometimes food is a necessary incentive to keep the kiddos quiet long enough to make a phone call!

Working from home can be hugely beneficial to growing your business, increasing efficiency and saving money. Where things can get tricky is if you’re not the only one at home during the workday. Yes, I’m talking about those pint-sized “coworkers” called children that can’t yet understand the difference between work time and play time.

For some parents, balancing work and childcare from home is the only way they can make it all happen. If you’re among the lucky ones who can enroll your little one in caregiver program at least 2 days a week, even if just for a 3-hour block of time, you can get a ton done in these golden hours! But what about the other days when your child is home with you like snow days, sick days or holidays? These seem to pop up during the most inconvenient times, turning what should be a simple work task or conference call into an extremely stressful balancing act.

The good news is with a little creativity and flexibility throughout your day, you can indeed find balance in this work situation. Here are some tips to make working from home with your child a success!

Create Fun Activity Kits for Your Little One

Even if you only have a few hours’ notice that your little one is going to be at home with you on a workday (i.e. a stomach bug or big snow storm), you only need a little time to put together some activity kits that will keep those tiny fingers busy (and independent of your attention) as you tackle your most important tasks

For example, bust out the play dough and give them an “assignment sheet” of the shapes or objects you want them to try to create. Create a “craft kit” with all the necessary tools and ask them to create something specific, like a birthday card for a relative. Another idea is to assemble a dress up box with fun clothing items and accessories you have lying around the house (bonus points if it’s something they haven’t seen before!). If you have multiple kids at home, create a contest for the best costume that you will judge once you’re off your call or done with your project. Don’t forget about educational DVDs! Sure, some people may try to make you feel guilty for all that “screen time,” but when you’re in a pinch and just need an hour or so of peace and quiet, you do what you have to do!

Block Off Time for Undivided Attention
Have you ever been wrapped up in an assignment, trying to concentrate, but your toddler is literally tugging on you and begging you for some attention? This is when you know it’s time to take a short break from your computer or phone and give some undivided attention to your little one. Take time to get down on their level and play with your toddler for a while. Yes, this is time you aren’t getting work done, but by investing even just 20 minutes or so into making your kid feel noticed and loved, your reward will be a content child that is happy to play independently again until you can return to him or her.

Utilize Family

To say it takes a village to raise a child couldn’t be more accurate! When you have a young family, you quickly realize the importance of trusted family and friends who live close by. If you can foresee a big project coming up at work or an assignment that will need your full attention, don’t be afraid to ask for help with your little one

A family member, neighbor or friend who is willing to take your child on a walk or simply be an extra set of hands for you in the house, if worth their weight in gold! Not only will you feel calm and at ease while getting work done, your child will also enjoy some one-on-one time with a new “friend” who will make them feel like the center of their world. Even if you don’t have family nearby, build a network of friends and fellow moms who are willing to help you out in an emergency situation. You never know until you ask! I have found people are more than happy to help out a busy mom and give her a few well-deserved moments of peace.

Do you ever have to balance work and childcare on the same days? Share your personal thoughts by commenting below!

 

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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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A Working Mom’s Guide for Achieving Work-Life Balance

This week’s blog shares the personal perspective of Bennis Inc employee, Danielle Gouger. Danielle is our PR assistant and photographer and balances the unique challenges of life as a working mother. Learn more about Danielle here!


A Working Mom’s Guide for Achieving Work-Life Balance

A Working Mom’s Guide for Achieving Work-Life Balance

As a newly single mom of a four-year-old spunky little girl, I began working from home in January of this year, and I am still learning each and every day how to achieve work-life balance.

Transitioning from my former position as a photography studio manager where I worked almost every weekend, many late evenings, and was always on call to support to my team, I find working from home and setting my hours has enabled me to re-prioritize and find a better work-life balance.

I was afraid, after leaving my photography position, that I would not be able to find a career that I was passionate about that would still allow me to be the mother I wanted to be. I am so thankful and grateful at this time in my life to have landed a job with a local Public Relations company that is led by a working mom now of two little ones, who understands and has worked hard to balance motherhood and entrepreneurship.

This new position offers me the creativity I need to thrive in my career and also the flexibility to work from home so that I can spend more time with my daughter. But it’s important to note it takes organization and time management to make it all work! Here is my guide for achieving work-life balance as a working mom, based upon my personal experience thus far.

Get Focused

Balancing work life and personal life means being effective with the time you have to work. Simply put, I don’t allow for distractions! Concentrating while working from home can sometimes be challenging with all the distractions of wanting to do other things, so it’s important to treat work time as sacred.

After I drop my daughter off at her daycare down the street, I come home, turn my laptop on, pour a second cup of coffee, and get started with my work day with checking my email. Now is the best time for me to get focused and dive right into my workday tasks. Having a great work environment is proven to facilitate productivity, so when working from home, it is important to create and maintain whatever type of environment helps you focus. I have personally found that having a designated office area in my home has helped me to be more focused and separate my work and personal life.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!

I’ve always been a planner, but once you have children it is so much more important to plan and keep a schedule, not only for yourself but kids need a routine, too! The most beneficial tool I use in my everyday life, besides my cell phone, is my calendar. Penciling in appointments, meetings and activities, really gives me a realistic view of my time. It’s important to factor in driving distance between places!

Also, you need to allow enough time to settle into an activity. For instance, when I take my daughter to daycare in the morning, it takes us some time to say our goodbyes to make sure we are both comfortable with her acclimating to her day. One final element I like schedule in my day or week is catch up time. This allows for life’s unexpected moments that, even with planning, can and do happen with work and especially when raising a four-year-old!

Prioritize

Watch for patterns in your day. Are you more productive in the morning or the afternoon? This is an important question to ask yourself when prioritizing your day and week.

I personally get more accomplished in the morning. So in my case, I try and tackle harder tasks in the morning as that is when I get my best work done. I also try to maximize my time by breaking down my day into smaller, bite-size tasks. Doing this allows me to get a lot more accomplished and to stay focused on the task at hand.

When it comes to household chores and errands (yes, they’re a necessary evil), I try and write a list for the week and pick two things to accomplish off my list each day. This prevents these responsibilities from piling up over the week and overflowing into my previous “family time” over the weekend.

Finally, as a single mom trying to balance work and life, you can sometimes forget to prioritize yourself. It’s important to take even 20 minutes for yourself each day, whether that’s catching up on a favorite TV show, going for a walk, or simply sitting in peace. Taking that little time for yourself allows you to be more available and present to do everything else you need to do as a working mom.

Close Down for the Night

There is a saying “every day has a new beginning,” so I believe there should be an end to every night. It is important to try and accomplish as much as you can off your daily to-do list to prevent these tasks from flowing into the next day and making tomorrow more overwhelming than it needs to be.

I try to get my workday accomplished by 5 o’clock now, so that once I pick my daughter up for the day I can focus the evening on her. Right before leaving the house, I will once again go through my emails to make sure I haven’t missed anything and then close down for the day. Once I pick her up, we will occasionally run a small errand or I will complete a household chore before supper. Except for Tuesdays; this is a night fully dedicated to her as she goes to her gymnastics class that evening and I love to be there and watch her in her element!

I now make it a priority to sit down with my daughter for dinner, and the rest of the evening we spend quality time together before bath and bedtime. Once my little one is sound asleep, I will give myself some time to read a book or catch up on a favorite show, as I have learned you deserve some “you” time the close the day. We work too hard not to reward ourselves with this! Finally, as important as it is to close down for the night, on Friday’s after I wrap my day up, I try to close down from work for the weekend, and leave what can wait to Monday.

How do you achieve balance as a working mom? Share your personal thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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The Life Lessons of Parenthood

Until now, my sole focus has been on nurturing my business, growing relationships and enjoying married life. I had more than enough time to pour into hobbies, passions and leisure. Don’t mistake where this is going. I enjoyed this chapter of my life – every day of it, but I also knew I was ready to experience something more than just myself and my business. I was ready to experience parenthood…

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Just a little more than two months ago, life provided us with the greatest gift we could ask for – a healthy baby boy. As I am sure every parent can relate, he is our personal pride and joy. He is also where we pour nearly all of our love and time right now. Though I am far from a seasoned mother, I have already learned quite a bit. This knowledge is nothing I could have anticipated, but has had a great impact on the way I view life, family and even business. Here are the ten life lessons parenthood has taught me in two short months:

It’s possible to multiply time.

I’ve always been efficient with my time, but parenthood has taught me how to do this to an extreme. It’s amazing what I can get done during a single nap hour. Procrastination is a luxury that simply doesn’t exist in our house anymore. I know that whether it’s household work or client work, now is always the best time to do something because I’m never quite sure when my next free moment will be.

You will cry over spilled milk.

When you feel like you’re always racing against the clock to accomplish as much as you can in the least amount of time, even a minor set-back can trigger a meltdown. And as any mother knows, every ounce of milk represents energy, time and nourishment for your little one. When milk spills, you will most certainly cry over it.

Give yourself 30 minutes more than you think you need.

Having a child is the ultimate excuse to be late. Anyone with kids is extremely empathetic to the fact that the most unexpected things can and will come up. But parenthood didn’t override my need to be on a schedule and run as close to on-time as possible. I’ve found that no matter how well I have my day planned, an extra 30 minutes can always be used. Before, when I would plan for something taking 5 minutes, I know it’s more likely to require 35.

When rest finally presents itself, you will learn to fall asleep within 15 seconds.

Free moments are hard enough to come by, but an even harder task is deciding whether you should catch up on work during this time or catch up on your zzz’s. Sooner or later, the desire to sleep will outweigh all other options and when it does, you will learn to close your eyes and doze off in a matter of mere seconds. Before parenthood, it would take some TV and tossing and turning to fall asleep, now it just takes closing my eye lids.

The little things will become the biggest things.

Never did I think watching someone raise their head or kick their legs would illicit cheers and praise. But as a parent, watching your little human grow right before your eyes is absolutely exhilarating. This has taught me that life’s smallest moments can create the biggest memories. It’s all relative to what that achievement means to each person – and to a mother, I am easily awe struck by these milestones.

Patience can be learned.

I was never a patient person and long ago I let go of the idea that I would ever somehow morph into one. I thought it was a virtue I simply didn’t possess. Above all things, parenthood has taught me a whole new level of patience. Before, I would easily become frustrated when things took longer than I anticipated or didn’t go exactly as planned. Now, I find myself calling upon a new level of calm to overcome such situations – often with a joke and a smile.

Progress is always two steps forward, one step back.

As sleeping patterns slowly begin to stabilize and feeding times spread further apart, I look forward to every ounce of progress we make. But these small victories aren’t a straight line of progress; rather it’s more like two steps forward, one step back. Some days I feel like I have this whole parenting thing down and other days bring me to my breaking point. Whether today turns into a good day or a bad day, I do know one thing for sure—it won’t last more than 24 hours and tomorrow can and will be completely different.


There’s no room for ego.

Just weeks ago, the thought of singing, humming or cooing in public would have made me feel nervous and awkward. Now, I make silly faces and funny noises so regularly I hardly notice whether I’m in front of a crowd or not. Parenthood has taught me how to be utterly goofy all in the name of child entertainment and to never mind what anyone else thinks about it.

You are always being watched.

Long before children can do anything else, they can watch. I have no doubt that my every movement and every sound are being recorded by a very impressionable mind. My actions will only continue to be studied with each passing month and year. If I wasn’t one before, I am certainly a role model now – and this means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Life is a precious miracle.

Above any other life lesson I could anticipate learning, this one carries the greatest impact. I always felt that I had valued life, but never until I became a parent did I realize just how miraculous the gift of life truly is. Parenthood has given me a profound appreciation for life at all ages. I feel so blessed to have a healthy, thriving child. Watching him get to know the world day by day will become the greatest memories of my own life.

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Meet the newest partner of Bennis Inc, Holden Scott Shirley, born May 11, 2013

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Life

 

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