If you’ve found a new job you can do from home to spend more time around the kids, congratulations. And even if you’re still just thinking of it, here are some tips that will help you put the particular challenges of home work in perspective.
- Hang a Do Not Disturb Sign. Only women can work and take care of kids at the same time. It’s a big generalization, but dads just aren’t as good at multi-tasking or breaking up the day into little 15 minute chunks of time. We need longer stretches without interruptions to be productive.
- You’re going to need a sitter if you’re going to be productive at home. The good news? If you don’t have to travel or leave the house for work, you may be able to get by with lower priced neighborhood kids (12+) helping out to mind and distract the younger kids while you work. Don’t feel guilty if you do use help to take care of the kids while you’re slaving away in your home office. Working from home does not mean they will be playing under your desk a la John F. Kennedy while you solve the world’s problems.
- Get some equipment. You’re going to need some industrial strength file cabinets. Ikea has nice-looking ones that are cheaper than what you’ll find at the Office Depot. Consider establishing your office out of high traffic areas, or at least buying a file cabinet with locks to prevent young kids from pouring juice into your files.
- Get the skinny on taxes and deductions. Computers that do double-duty can’t be counted as business expenses. Go to www.irs.gov/business/small for more information.
- Establish tech support and a very strong computer backup system. Take it from a
“hard drive loser,” paying mega-bucks to resurrect a destroyed hard drive with no backup is a frustrating waste of money. If you have a PC, many people recommend the Geek Squad. We recommend a Mac. They have a cheap 3-year tech support plan, but the machines mostly run themselves.
- Set some boundaries. If you’re staying at home to be with the kids, try to make sure the plan still allows you to spend time with them. If working from home is too stressful, either financially or for lifestyle reasons, it may not be your best option for spending quality time with the kids.
- Keep up your network. Stay in touch with friends in the traditional workforce in case you need to go back. You may want to consider starting an online network for work-at-home dads since nothing like that really exists.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t make working from home an excuse for all-day snacking and avoiding the gym. Program time in your schedule just as you would if you had a traditional job.