Tips for working when the kids are around

As every mumpreneur out there knows, if you don’t work around the kids, then you won’t get much done at all. And you know what else working mums are all too aware of? That working around the kids is far easier said than done!

That’s not to say it’s impossible or that you have to be superhuman, however. Providing you’ve got enough tricks and tools in your arsenal to keep the kids quiet, occupied and entertained, you can get to ticking off your to-do list.

So how about some ideas then from fellow mums out there on how to pull it off successfully? We’ve got just that. Virtuzone reached out to a number of our mumpreneurs who have registered UAE companies with us, and brought together a “top 10” list of ways in which you can get work done while the kids are around (or at least have a better shot at getting work done!).

Below are 10 suggestions we collected from the feedback we received. Now again, they may not work every time – maybe not even half the time. But they’ll certainly give you a better chance to get cracking on things, whether it be that presentation, that sales call, that email inbox that needs cleaning out, and on and on and on.

1. Mumpreneur R.T. says “Be honest”: Now this one really depends on the age of your kids, but assuming they are old enough to understand, then straight out explaining things to them is often a very effective tactic. Kids have a sense for when something is truly important and affects them as well, and so sit them down and tell them why mum’s work is important for the household.

2. Mumpreneur J.A. says “Work when you can, not when you want”: While it may be desirable to work a “normal” day, sometimes with kids in tow it’s just not possible. That’s why any budding mumpreneur must be prepared to work what some may consider “unsociable” hours. If you need a solid hour or two of focus in order to get that project finished, then 5am or 9pm may be your best shot.

Any budding mumpreneur must be prepared to work what some may consider “unsociable” hours.

3. Mumpreneur B.R. says “Incentivise!”: Offering incentives works just as well in business as it does in parenting, and because you’re anyway combining the two, it has to be worth a shot, right? If you need a period of concentration to get a particular task finished, explain to the little ones that – providing they can keep themselves occupied in the meantime – in two hours’ time you’ll take them out for a treat.

4. Mumpreneur J.T. says “Make the most of naptime”: This one depends on the age of your child or children, but if naps are still a part of the routine, then take full advantage of them and work your schedule around these wherever possible.

5. Mumpreneur R.L. says “Set some hard and fast rules”: One of the main advantages of being a mumpreneur is being able to work without losing that quality time with your children, so shutting yourself off from them for long periods somewhat defeats the purpose. This is where setting rules can be a big help. Use a whiteboard to write out your top five rules, for example, such as “1. No talking whatsoever while mum is on the phone”, or “2. Quiet games only when mum is typing at her computer.”

Use a whiteboard to write out your top five rules, for example, such as “1. No talking whatsoever while mum is on the phone”, or “2. Quiet games only when mum is typing at her computer.”

6. Mumpreneur M.K. says “Get creative”: A well-stocked arts and crafts draw can be a godsend for the busy mumpreneur. Introduce set creative times so you know when you’ll have a chance to work. Most kids love building things, and if you turn it into a bit of a game whereby you “award a prize” at the end of it, you might just get lucky enough to have full (and quiet) cooperation for an hour or more.

7. Mumpreneur S.A. says “Share your office space”: If you want to keep the kids close by but have a hefty list of things to do, why not set them up with their own workstation in your office? While mum is happily working away, the kids can be playing their favourite computer game, watching cartoons (with earphones of course), or even learning something new from one of the many kid-friendly, educational sites across the web.

8. Mumpreneur V.B. says “Shower the little ones with attention”: As any mum knows, there is only one thing guaranteed to make a child scream for attention – and that is those times when mum’s attention is elsewhere. That’s why working around kids is all about balance. Sure, you need periods of undivided attention on your job, but make sure you also fit in plenty of undivided kid time in your working schedule too. For example, every 30 or so minutes go and sit with them and ask them with genuine interest what they have been up to. Let them show you what they have built or drawn or learned. Then after a few minutes you can get back to that computer for the next stretch of work.

9. Mumpreneur F.L. says “Face reality and know when it’s just not going to happen”: Sometimes – however desperately you might need it – you’re just not going to get that alone time you need with your laptop. But that’s fine, don’t beat yourself up about it. Shut the laptop down and take the kids out to burn off some energy. Head out for a long walk, a bike ride, a swim – or any other activity that will satisfy your child’s need for a bit of mum time. After all, if you can’t beat them, join them. Then, once back home, explain that mum needs to catch up on her work. Kids respond well to that kind of tradeoff.

10. Mumpreneur L.K. says “Put them to work!” Why treat them like kids when they could be mini-employees? Sure, you can’t expect children to do any of the real heavy lifting when it comes to the running of your business, but is there anything they could help mum with? Have a think about what tasks you could give them to keep busy – folding flyers or letters, stuffing envelopes, and basic filing all come to mind. Not only will this particular tip give you time to focus on work, you never know – you could be planting the seeds for the entrepreneurs of the future.

Have a think about what tasks you could give them to keep busy – folding flyers or letters, stuffing envelopes, and basic filing all come to mind.

Mastering mumpreneurship

So there you have it, tips from the pros themselves!

Now with all that great advice, just a reminder that the keys to making it work – as with most things entrepreneurial – are flexibility, balance, determination, and a whole heap of passion.  And, of course, the one attribute that mumpreneurs need more than most in the world of business: the patience of a saint!

There aren’t, after all, many business owners or CEOs whose daily schedules include diaper changes, school runs and regular feeds. The fact is that being a parent and a businesswoman is essentially like trying to hold down two full-time jobs. And if you have more than one child, make that three or even four jobs.

However, as millions of mumpreneurs around the world are showing us, it is doable. And having acknowledged at the outset of this article that it can never be easy (and is at times close to impossible), the fact is that you mumpreneur frontliners out there are making a success of both family and business while contributing billions of dollars to economies around the world.

So perhaps you are superhuman after all.

About the author: Sophie Roberts, Partnerships Manager
About the author: Sophie Roberts, Partnerships Manager

As Partnerships Manager at Virtuzone, Sophie coordinates relationships with key partners to provide a support system for clients as they launch their business. Sophie also oversees the PR and events for Virtuzone, finding new opportunities for the team to meet budding entrepreneurs in the UAE. Having worked in B2B marketing and events in Dubai for 5 years, she is a strong believer in the power of networking and strategic partnerships in driving business success.