According to the Australian government website as of June 2018, there are now nearly one million Aussies running a business from home. Home-based businesses are rising in popularity as entrepreneurs see the benefits in terms of flexibility, improved quality time with family, and the chance to maximize family income.
However, working from home is not without its challenges, particularly when it comes to other family members. It can be very hard for children to understand when you are in work mode for a period of your day at home.
So how can you keep the kids productive and engaged while you run your home-based business in an effective and productive manner?
Train your children to be productive
Children of home-based business owners have to learn to find things for themselves to do, but they need some help getting started. In the same way you have created a separate home office or workspace, create a learning station for the kids.
For preschool age and upwards, part of the day can be devoted to online educational games. It is very important to set a time limit on the use of laptops or iPads, though. There are some excellent online educational games linked to preschool and primary school curriculum and learning activities that children can use as well.
If the weather is not fantastic outdoors, you can plan computer time for them with parental controls setting on. You can also set a timer on the computer so sessions will time. Choose internet access settings and games that are appropriate for your child. There are some excellent educational computer games that allow children to learn and develop while having fun as well. Check out The Early Childhood Education Zone for the best online preschool games.
Encourage reading and arts and crafts for pleasure
For reading to become an independent activity, a child needs to have a certain level of proficiency (which is attained around the age of eight). Of course, there are children who are proficient readers at an earlier age and some will take longer. Since you know your child best, determine how to encourage and foster this activity.
Spend time with your children at the local library. Allow them to choose the books they want to read. It is also worth checking out some books yourself as back up if they get fed up with their choices. For the reluctant reader, picture books, arts and crafts books or activity books may engage their interest. Reading choices will empower them to go at their own pace.
Encourage outside play time
It is important to create a safe space to play outside particularly during the warm weather. Making tents in the garden, having swings and play equipment, or sandpits are all great activities that can keep them occupied.
Lunchtimes can be taken up with picnics in the backyard, and you can keep an eye on them with home security technology. Installing affordable outdoor home cameras can offer 24/7 live video with activity phone alerts and a talk and listen feature to get their attention.
Technology can help give you peace of mind that your children are safe and enjoying themselves. If someone does come to the gate or back door, you can monitor the property while you run your business.
Plan ‘imagination’ projects
Depending on the age and ability of your children, there are things you can do to keep them busy. For example, for older kids, encourage them to produce a family newsletter that can be shared with grandparents or aunts and uncles. Get them to include a section on weekly family news, make up a puzzle, or a simple crossword.
For kids of all ages, set up large rolls of butchers’ paper against the garden fence and have them paint a mural. Turn a corner of the garden into a beach area with sand and a paddling pool. Or get them to draw a tropical island with palm trees and colorful birds. Keep a selection of dress up clothes and they can spend their time being pirates or adventurers.
Hold back on toy access
This works well for younger children. Put some toys away for a short period of time, and allow the children to access what is in the toy box or play room.
Jigsaws, playsets, construction toys and board games are all great tools to hold a child’s interest, but they will get bored. That is why you need to rotate the toys, so your children can be engaged and actively seek out the toy box to see what is in store for them during that week.
Arrange play dates
Again, this depend son the age of your child. As you get to know the parents of your children’s friends, you can offer to look after them for one afternoon and they will reciprocate.
For older children, spending time with friends is very important. If you are going to work while they play, remind them of the ground rules. (This is not going to be the case when looking after toddlers).
These are just a few examples of activities you can plan with your family for both you and your children to have more productive days. So, harness the power of technology and start planning. Both you and your children will reap the rewards.
Michelle Ooi is the Director of Home Safety Store, a specialist in home security systems based in Australia. Being a mom of 2 young kids herself, Michelle has learnt to juggle her time between balancing work and keeping her kids occupied on those work-from-home days.