In theory, working at home is an ideal situation. But in reality, it's difficult to balance the needs of your family with the needs of your clients.
Phones, fax machines and e-mails have no common courtesy, nor does your client really care about your personal situation. You are simply a means to an end consisting of a telephone number, an e-mail address and a 1099 at the end of the year. For the most part, you are not afforded special considerations and must respond to their needs or your business will suffer.
Long before I began my career as a writer, I was already a work-at-home mom. I provided outsourcing solution to a variety of clients, which included bookkeeping, personnel records, reports and creating employee handbooks and mission statements. Initially my clients were leery; it was a time when home businesses were just emerging. I went to great lengths to establish and maintain my associations. Part of my success was the perceived illusion was that I was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Continuously, I had to prove my home life did not interfere with their business needs or deadlines.
One day, as I absentmindedly brushed my son off and repeated the phrase, "just a minute" for the fifth time, I suddenly realized why he had no concept of time. That "minute" I was speaking of was hours away, at best. The business I built so that I could be at home with him was also the business that was taking me away from him. I turned back to my computer to complete the report I was working on and my son returned to his video game in frustration. It was then I realized my solution was only a paragraph away.
I was experienced in writing mission statements for my clients. These leadership tools are used in the corporate world to define goals, values and purpose. A successful business takes commitment, resources, responsibility, problem solving, honesty and hard work. Doesn't that also define raising a child? Parenting consists of all those factors and so much more.
As in any business, the business of raising a child will bring accomplishments, successes and rewards, but it will also have it's share of conflicts, disappointments and setbacks. However, when it comes to the business of family the stakes are much greater than a new client, a contract, a promotion or a raise; they involve the wellbeing of your child.
The emotional difficulties of childhood serve to build strength, courage and character. But to a child, these conflicts may feel catastrophic if they have no one to turn to. You can help prepare your child to cope if you take time out each day to remind him how much you love him, express your commitment to his wellbeing and provide positive affirmations that help foster confidence.
Just as you keep focus on your business goals and rise to meet your company's mission statement, keep focus on your personal goals as a parent. Run your family business with the integrity and respect of a healthy, thriving corporation. Define your ideals, set plans to action, keep communications open and reward success. Encourage individuality, praise creativity and share the wealth. Be positive and proactive. The business of family is one to be celebrated and cherished. It may not be listed as a FORTURNE 500, but it is the most important business of all.
A PARENT'S MISSON STATEMENT
The purpose of this Mission Statement is to express my love, support and commitment to you. As your parent, I promise to help you achieve your dreams and goals by providing you with a safe and nurturing environment. I respect your opinion and I encourage your creativity. I will be there to praise your accomplishments and comfort you in your disappointments. I promise to accept you as you are, support your decisions and honor you as a special and unique individual. You have the right to a safe and happy childhood and as your parent, I am committed to providing this to you.
TIPS FOR WORKING AT HOME
The luxuries you dreamed of as a work-at-home mom can quickly lead to burdens unless you are organized and scheduled. This schedule consists of a balance between business and family and activities should work in harmony with your child's needs, not against them.
• Define your work area and organize it so valuable time can be spent on the task at hand.
• Determine quiet times, such as early morning or after your child goes to bed. Use this period to complete tasks that need the most concentration.
• Set a start and finish time for your workday.
• Allow a full day off from work each week and stick to this schedule as much as possible.
• Start each morning by talking with your child about the day's events. Include your child in these plans. By informing him of your activities, he will be comforted in the knowledge that there will be time for him.
• Remember that you are entitled to breaks, lunch, vacation time and even sick time. You are the boss.
• When it comes time for your break, stop working, compliment your child for his cooperation, and spend the next block of time enjoying the moment.
• Record an "out to lunch" message and set your phones daily. Even if you are sitting at your desk, do not answer the phones. Your clients will become accustom to your schedule.
• If you need to run an errand, but are concerned about missing an important call, don't wait around stressing, forward calls to your cell phone.
• Consider hiring a babysitter a few hours per week to read or play with your child or do a special craft.
Most of all, remember your priorities as a parent and your commitment to your personal mission statement. When your child needs to talk, be grateful he or she is turning to you. Keep the lines of communication open, there will come a time when they need you for more than a glass of milk and a snack. And when that time comes, they might not be able to wait, "just a minute".
Patricia Gatto and John De Angelis are the authors of MILTON'S DILEMMA, the tale of a lonely boy's magical journey to friendship and self-acceptance. As advocates for literacy and children's rights, the authors speak at schools and community events to foster awareness and provide children with a safe and healthy learning environment. For more information, please visit Joyful Productions at http://www.joyfulproductions.com
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