5 Important Tips In Being A Career Mom With A Home Office
By Elizabeth Traub
What is my reality of being a career mom with a home office? I have this #SavvySocialTip tweet I like to send out that goes something like this, “Share your journey that others may learn from you.” It’s an important tweet. Why? If we only see the icing on the cake, how do we learn the ingredients that made that cake? In running a career we are all going to be doing it just a little differently. Having worked for over 20 years in my own business, here are five very important tips I have learned in being a career mom with a home office.
1. Set healthy and realistic boundaries with your clients & your team.
It is easy to get lost in your work, and jump to return every email, call, tweet, post or comment, and attend every single meeting. I schedule all of my clients. I give realistic times, uninterrupted by kids, that I can invest my time with them. If you do not do this, you will be a slave to other’s people time and you actually condition people to not value your space and time. Your clients do not need to know that you did not work on Monday, and instead were out playing at a park on Friday. What I did was “conditioned” my clients, and still do today. Letting all my clients know that I am typically available on Tuesday & Thursday for phone or skype meetings. This means I could schedule my parenting time at school, play dates, & doctor appointments. In addition letting your teams know specifically when you are available. One thing both my client and team do know is that through text or email, I can pretty much get back to you while swinging a child at the playground, or swinging a golf club on the course. Establishing healthy boundaries allows for not just balance, but a higher concentration of productivity towards a project you are not having to stop and start over and over.
2. Schedule your phone & meeting appointments around your kid’s schedules.
For me this was very easy. I scheduled all five of my kids for naps. We ate at the same times each day. In order to have an affective work environment I had to create this kind of schedule to respect my client time and my sanity. No one likes to hear a fussy child on the other end of the phone when important business decisions are being made. When you create this kind of schedule it becomes a habit for the entire family. I also cut out blocks of time in that scheduling of my kids time. I scheduled two hour blocks of just being mom, doing the dishes, laundry, coloring and building Lego’s. All the mom stuff we do.
3. Bring your children into your workspace when it’s appropriate.
My kids have grown up in my work space. They have learned at an early age to respect my space when they were brought into it. As they grew older they were able to travel with me as an assistant. They have sat in on meeting with VP’s and learned how to take notes around the conversation. They learned how to navigate a cab in New York City, and come around professionals and serve others. Today, that young girl who traveled with me helping prepare for client presentations is now my Editor in Chief.
4. Do not let your clients run your business.
I respect the fact that someone wants to hire me for my services. I will always honor and take pride in the work I have been given. In order to run an efficient and productive business I cannot run to every need around the clock of a client. In doing so, focus is distracted and you will be off-balance. Those distraction and lack of balance begin to affect all your work and the pulse of your family. I had a client tell me once, “You need to be available for me 24/7”. He called me constantly demanding my time. I had to let that client go. There are times when there ARE major projects, trips to make, when I am working and then yes, 24/7 is what we are all giving to make a project work. Even those times are planned. I can build those blocks of high demand into my schedule.
I had a client who needed me to be in New York two weeks before my 5th child was born. That was an important project. With the respect and honor I give to my clients it is then returned. I did make that cross country trip. I love that my client had chocolates, mints, bottled water and tums for his pregnant representative.
5. Keep Space Open for the Unexpected
Today, as I have been pondering and writing this article, I completely subscribe to this one last tip. Keeping space open to come alongside and engage with new people and allowing time to play with my children. All added value of fun to my day. I was able to be part of a radio show request. I was able to email pictures for a magazine request. Both opportunities would have been missed if I did not hold space open. Holding space to catch up, play or make new connections.
It is important to find what works best for you when working out of your home. It was easy to crank out five tips. I have been working in these parameters for over 15 years and love how this kind of value and respect for my business allows others to know where I am an when I can connect. What is one tip you might add to this list. I am always open to learning new tips in in being a career mom with a home office.