When to Work?

When you decided to work at home, flexibility probably had a lot to do with it. I know that was my main reason. With John on call 24/7 for the work he does, it made a lot of sense for us to have someone available at all times to run the house and be with the kids. I couldn't rely on other people all the time to get my kids to and from activities, to be available when I wasn't so much of the time, and to run backup if I was running late. It was a huge draw for me and my family.

With tomorrow being the last day of school here, I'm looking at my first summer as a work-at-home mom and going back and forth between reveling in long summer days, and panicking as I wonder when I'm going to get my work done. I'm lucky in that my kids are old enough to fend for themselves if I have to interview someone over the phone, or to entertain themselves at the library or at a friend's house if I need to interview someone in person. If your kids need more supervision, how do you manage it?

When my kids were young enough to nap, I followed my mother's advice and slept when the kids slept. As a work-at-home mom, however, you might have to make your phone calls and scheduling while the kids are down -- or have them spend a little electronic babysitter time. During breakfast and lunch, before the kids get up and after the kids get to bed are also prime working hours.

It's easy to feel a little resentful during the summer as the kids are around all the time while you're supposed to be working. It helps to rejig your schedule to accommodate their time at home -- and then you need to have the discipline to stick with it. When you're with your kids, be with your kids, not composing e-mails or rehearsing sales pitches in your head. When you're working, work -- don't wish you could be back in bed or watching your favorite TV show. Before you were working at home, this is the kind of flexibility you wanted. It's not easy, but the payoff is grand. Would you really rather be back in that office just so you don't have to stay up late to finish your work at home?

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