Last Updated December 10th, 2018

How To Work At Home With Kids: An Age By Age Guide

How to work at home with kids

Having kids is a major reason for people to decide to work at home. The idea of always being there for your kids and seeing them learn new things is so appealing. But the reality isn’t so pretty for most families. It’s hard to work at home with kids.

How you handle the issues that come from working at home with kids changes as the kids grow. Babies and toddlers will do very different things to your work schedules than teens will.

Work At Home With Kids: All Ages

Some things are true about being a work at home mom or dad no matter the age of your kids. The precise details may change, but the overall needs are about the same.

family hands

Get Help As Needed

I’ll give my number one piece of advice that works for all ages first: Get help when you need it!!

This may mean putting your kids in daycare or getting a mother’s helper or having your spouse help more than they have been. You may also be able to arrange a swap with other parents of young children.

If taking care of your kids is taking too much of your time that you could use to earn money from home, you need help.

Get it.

You may even need some help when your kids are in school or hit the teen years. Getting kids to and from school can eat up a lot of your time. You may also find that you need help if any of your kids struggle academically. It’s not easy to tutor your kids in a subject you don’t remember well yourself.

Flexible Schedules Are Best

The other thing you want to make working at home with kids much easier is a flexible schedule. There are few stages as kids grow up that a 9-5 schedule will work well for you. Most of the time, you want a flexible schedule if you’re going to work at home.

With babies and younger children, their needs are too unpredictable. There’s no way to set up a schedule that will work with their needs. They change too often.

But even when kids go off to school, a flexible schedule is best. How often do you think you will need to pick a sick kid up from school? What about minimum days? And they are going to want to have friends over to play sometimes!

All these things will mess with normal schedules. But if your job or home business allow you to be more flexible, these things won’t be as big a deal. You should be able to switch your schedule to handle such issues.

It also helps to have a list of quick things you can do when you know you’re going to be interrupted. There will be times when you know you have just a few minutes to yourself, and you can make those precious few minutes productive if you plan for it.

Eat Meals Together

As much as possible, eat meals with your kids. You need the break from work and they need your attention.

You don’t have to be the perfect family who eats every meal at the table, but do make sure you take the time to talk with each other during meals. This will be a great way to keep up with what your kids are doing as they get older. Start young and it will be a lifelong habit.

Be Fully Present

Whether you’re working in your home office or playing with your kids, put all your focus on that thing as much as possible. Be fully present for your kids and for your work.

What this means is that when it’s time to play with the kids, you aren’t thinking about work. You’re playing with the kids. Ignore the phone and don’t even think about peeking at your email or social media.

Depending on the age of your kids, it can be more difficult to focus fully on your work, but do the best you can. The more focused you are on your work, the more productive you will be.

Take Time Off Work For Special Things

Kids have a lot of special events in their lives. Some may not seem like that big a deal to you, but they mean plenty to your kids.

Go on field trips with their class when the teacher needs more chaperones. Go to their games if they play sports. Pay attention when they announce that they want to put on a performance for you in the living room.

You can also make special moments. They don’t have to cost a lot, either. Sure, a vacation to Disneyland will excite just about any child, but so will a quick trip to the park, a trip to the beach, or a family hike, depending on the age of the kids.

work at home with baby

Work At Home With Babies

Babies can be both the easiest and the hardest to deal with when you work at home.

They’re easy when they sleep a lot. They’re the hardest to deal with when they don’t.

You never know in advance what your baby will be like. Some work at home parents will have babies with special needs who take up more time than other babies. Other babies sleep less than average and make it challenging to have a productive work at home day.

There are some basics for working at home with babies:

Pick The Right Work Schedule

Most sites I see tell work at home moms and dads that they should get up early to get some work done before the kids are up. That never worked for me – I’m a night owl. So I’ll tell you to pick the right work at home schedule for your needs.

If you’re good at waking up early, great. Do that.

If you’re a night owl, stay up late to work.

I promise you that either way there will be times that it takes a ton of self control to get any work done because you’re exhausted. Maybe you were up half the night because baby was teething. Maybe you’re tired at the end of a long day with a demanding infant.

Either way, if you want this work at home with kids things to work for you, you have to push through and get your work done. Sometimes you will have to tough it out and make things happen because that’s the only way it’s going to happen.

Rest When You Can

The advice to sleep when the baby sleeps is great when you don’t have anything else to do. When you work at home, it may not be such great advice. That time when the baby is sleeping may be your best shot at getting something done without interruptions.

Make time to get what rest you can, however, especially in the early days when baby needs more frequent feedings. If you’re the mom and you’re recovering from childbirth, you need that time to let your body recover, no matter what.

This isn’t always easy, and it’s one of the big times that you should ask for help if you need it. Too little rest only makes things harder over time. Do your best to find a way to get some rest.

This can mean letting some of the housework go. I don’t mean let your home deteriorate into an unlivable, unsanitary disaster area. But many household chores can be delayed for a time or assigned to your spouse or an older child. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Take Care Of Yourself

Ah, those lovely days with your newborn baby that so many people have an image of. Too bad the fantasy isn’t much like reality.

It can be difficult as a new work at home mom or dad to take proper care of yourself. There are days that even finding time for a shower may be difficult, never mind eating a decent meal.

The great thing about babies is that you don’t have to be focused on them every minute that they’re awake. You can do other things while they’re awake.

Make sure baby is safe, of course.

Set up a safe place for your baby for those times you need to take care of yourself. Some parents will set up a baby swing in the bathroom when they need to shower, so that the baby is safe but they can get cleaned up for the day.

If you’re making food for yourself, find a place where you can see the baby, but they won’t be in your way as you prepare a meal. A playpen can be great for those times that you need to be out of the room to get things done.

Work While Baby Eats (If Possible)

I was fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed all my kids, and I can tell you that it was wonderful when it came time to work. All I had to do was sit at my computer and type while the baby nursed. Sure, my typing was a little slower, but it wasn’t that bad.

It probably also won’t be that great an idea if your baby tends to spit up a lot. Can’t have that get into the computer!

This is more difficult if baby is bottle fed, of course. Bottle feeding isn’t exactly a handsfree process. And it gets worse as solid foods are introduced, which is waaaay too messy to do near a computer.

But if things go well with breastfeeding, it’s a huge help.

Try Babywearing

Babywearing is absolutely amazing for being productive with a young baby. They get to be right with you, which is what they want, and you get to work. Baby can nap or listen to your voice as the day goes on.

Babies love to be held. There’s a reason why so many scream when you put them down – they want you! There’s even a study that shows that babywearing decreases crying. That alone should be plenty of reason to try babywearing – hearing a baby cry is stressful.

Don’t forget that babywearing is for both parents.

reading with baby

Work At Home With Toddlers And Preschoolers

Toddlers can be far more demanding of your time than infants in some ways. They want you to play with them all the time! On the other hand, they should sleep better at night and still take pretty good naps during the day, which gives you some clear work time.

On the plus side, they’re learning how to entertain themselves, and this is something you can encourage. Toddlers and preschoolers are also more fun for older siblings, although you’ll still worry when the kids get suspiciously quiet.

Encourage Independent Play

While you can’t leave your toddler or preschooler completely unsupervised, they can learn how to play independently; that is, without your direct participation.

Start figuring out the things they like to do on their own. Which toys are best for this will depend on the child, of course.

Set Up A Play Area By Your Desk

Toddlers and preschoolers love to imitate their parents. If you want work time, you’ll encourage this by setting up a play area right by your desk. Include a small table so your child has their own desk. This is great for those times when they need to be near you but you need to work.

Include things that are similar to things you use. My kids had the use of an old keyboard when they were little. They could pound on it all they wanted.

Crayons and other art supplies that don’t make too much of a mess are also good choices. Keep things organized so they don’t mess up your home office.

For those times that you’re willing to allow screens, you can also include a toy computer or kid safe tablet. Your work time can be educational for your kids.

Obviously, you don’t want your kids just staring at a screen while you work, which is why you should include other toys as well.

Change the toys available to your kids regularly. Toddlers and preschoolers love “new” toys, but a toy can become new again to them if they haven’t played with it for a while.

Make The Most Of Naptime

Toddlers and preschoolers don’t take as many naps as infants, but they can still take some nice, long naps when they’re tired. They also usually sleep better at night.

Make the most of it.

As often as possible, work when your toddler or preschooler naps. Don’t do housework or other things that you can do when your child is awake. Toddlers and preschoolers often like helping with chores, so save those for when they’re awake. Chores take longer with little kids “helping,” but the lessons learned are worth it eventually.

mom at computer

Work At Home With Kids In School

Working at home gets so much easier as the kids head off to school. Suddenly you have fewer interruptions during the day. Things may be a little worse during the time that the youngest sibling has to stare at the older ones heading off to school, as the youngest will be lonely for them during school hours. But once they’re all in school, you’ll have a much easier time working at home.

Do less focused work when the kids are doing homework. This makes it easier for you to stop and help them when needed.

Have a plan for sick days. Kids bring home all kinds of germs, especially when they first head off to school.

I go pretty easy on my kids when they’re home sick. Aside from making sure they take a good nap or two, they have a lot of flexibility in what they can do. If a sick kid feels best watching TV all day or playing on a tablet, well, it keeps them quiet. That extra screen time won’t hurt them, and they may fall asleep because it’s so relaxing.

Work At Home And Homeschool

When you really want to increase your challenges, try working at home while homeschooling. There will be a lot of truly challenging days.

Your lesson plans will need to be arranged so that you know when you can work on your job or home business. Anytime your kids can handle things independently, it’s time for you to earn money.

If your child is working on something where they’ll need your help part of the time but work independently the rest of the time, make sure you’re ready to be interrupted. Don’t work on things that require your full attention or will leave you frustrated when an interruption happens.

You may also find a homeschooling co-op or other group that will make your experience a little smoother. Talk to other parents about trading off responsibilities as necessary. Get help from other parents if you’re weak on a particular subject.

Homeschooling parents need a lot of flexibility from their work at home jobs or home businesses. Homeschooling adds a lot of demands to your day. You will need to be more organized than most with all the demands on your time.

Enjoy The Advantages

No matter the ages of your kids when you work at home, enjoy the advantages you get from being a work at home mom or dad. It’s a privilege not many parents can enjoy.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated December 6th, 2018

Foolproof Strategies To Come Up With Social Media Content Ideas

Foolproof Strategies To Come Up With Social Media Content Ideas

If you want to succeed with social media marketing for your blog, you need to have a steady stream of content prepared for it. Social media is a great way to bring in traffic, but you have to work for it. It’s not an instant solution for driving traffic to your website. One of the most important steps is to generate lots of social media content ideas to promote your blog.

No matter what the type of content you’re sharing, do your best to include an image. It’s extra work to add them in, but if you get better results from your social media marketing, it’s time well spent.

Images don’t have to be fancy. Use a photo you took for your blog post when possible, and Creative Commons Zero images if you have to. There are lots of sites where you can get free images for your blog.

Different social media sites will do well with different image sizes. Take some time to learn what does well for each and figure out how to adapt your images quickly for each usage.

Your Most Recent Post

This one should be obvious… promote your most recent posts on social media.

Don’t just promote it once. Prepare some variations and plan your promotion schedule.

Your Old Posts

Are your old posts just sitting there on your blog, or are you promoting them too?

Go through your old posts regularly and set them up for promotion Update images as necessary, and confirm that the links aren’t broken.

Also, check the post for new links within your site you can add. An old post may be relevant to a newer post. A quick rewrite to update information and refresh the blog post can help you improve it.

Some of your posts will be evergreen, and you can promote them anytime. Others will be seasonal, and you should schedule them appropriately.

You may also have some posts that don’t ever need to be promoted again. They may relate to events which were current when you wrote them, for example, but are no longer relevant now. If there’s no way to make these posts relevant again, don’t bother promoting them.

social media posting

Other People’s Content

Social media isn’t social if it’s all about you. Take the time to discover great content other people have created that your followers will enjoy.

Retweet people on Twitter.

Repin other people on Pinterest.

Share great content from others on Facebook.

You get the idea.

You can also comment on other people’s social media posts. Comments tend to make the posts do better, and can bring attention to your profile if your comment is interesting or informative. None of that “good post” garbage – say something that matters.

Guest Posts

If you wrote a guest post for another site, make sure you promote it at least as well as you would any of the posts on your blog. You want it to be a good value for the blog that published it. It’s also more eyes on your content, which is a step toward visiting your site. Good all around.

Events

Are you planning an event that your followers will be interested in? Promote the heck out of it on your social media. How often you post it will depend on the particular social media site – you don’t want to look spammy – but if you have something special coming up for your followers, give them plenty of opportunities to hear about it.

social media idea

Infographics

A good infographic can get a lot of attention on social media. It allows you to share more information from your post than you would otherwise. If you design it well, your infographic will be shared often and bring people to your website. Infographics are more likely to be shared than other types of content.

Your full infographic may not be immediately visible on your social media accounts when you share it. Most sites cut images to a certain size until visitors click on them. That’s fine, but make sure your image is appealing even when cut off.

Infographics are a great opportunity to have a little fun with your images. Use interesting graphics with text to catch people’s attention. Humor also helps.

Don’t let the thought of creating an infographic intimidate you. Once you know what information you want to present, there are plenty of tools to make the actual creation easy. Here are some options:

Quotes

If you follow a lot of people on Twitter, you’ve probably seen people who share quotes regularly. That’s because they work there.

It’s not that quote tweets bring visitors to your website – they often don’t include a link to a site. It’s that they have a better chance than many tweets of being retweeted, which brings attention to your account.

You can share quotes on other sites as well. For visual sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, create an attractive image to go with the quote.

Keep the quotes you use relevant to your niche. A quote that inspires people or that makes them laugh will often do well.

Holidays

People love to celebrate holidays, and I don’t just mean Christmas and New Year’s.

Keep a calendar that helps you to track whichever religious holidays you want to post about on your social media. It doesn’t take much to acknowledge a holiday, even if it’s one you don’t celebrate.

You can also have fun with some of the assorted holidays people have come up with to celebrate just about anything, from chocolate to hats to happiness. These days may not be “real” holidays as such, but they’re a great excuse to have a little fun with your social media posts, especially if the day is relevant to your niche.

Product Recommendations

You don’t always have to get an affiliate commission to make a product recommendation. In fact, you will gain trust from your followers if you don’t always stand to gain financially from the things you recommend.

What have you used recently that really worked out well for you? A quick blurb is all it takes, although a picture isn’t a bad idea as well.

Get Controversial

Is something controversial going on that your followers might be interested in? Post on social media about it. State your opinion.

There is some risk to this, of course, as some people are bound to disagree with you if the subject is indeed controversial. But it may also get attention.

Recommend Others

Who do you follow on social media? Why?

People are always looking for great people to follow on social media. When you find someone really worth following in your niche, recommend them to your followers. Not only will your followers appreciate this, so will the person you recommend. This can be great for building online relationships.

social media photo

Videos

Making videos for social media is challenging for most people. It’s hard to get comfortable making them, even if you don’t show your face on camera.

Depending on your comfort level, there are a lot of ways to make videos. If you’re comfortable with going live, for example, Facebook Live or Instagram Stories may be good choices.

You can post other kinds of video on YouTube or other sites. Pinterest allows business users to upload videos now as well, although you can simply pin the video from YouTube if you prefer.

Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are a way to interact with your followers by setting up a hashtag for your chat and telling everyone when to use it.

Plan ahead by having a variety of questions you can post to the chat, and give people time to answer. Retweet or respond to as many answers as possible.

Some people even set up prizes for their Twitter chats to drive more interest in the chat. You can have participants sign up in advance in order to be eligible for the prize.

Ask For Advice

You may want to be the expert in many ways on your blog, but we all need advice at times. When you have a question, post it on social media and encourage people to share their solutions.

Behind The Scenes Of Your Blog

Do you ever share what really goes into making your blog work, the challenges and triumphs you have as you work?

You may want to. It’s a great way to make your social media account more personal.

I don’t suggest posting constant complaints about problems you’ve run into. You can be too negative when you let people go behind the scenes. And while allowing people to see that you struggle with things too is a good idea, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that.

Behind the scenes posts can be fun. A blooper reel of a video you were making might be fun to upload, for example.

You can also share what your workspace looks like and how you set it up, or talk about how you create the great images and posts your fans have come to enjoy.

Giveaways And Contests

People love free stuff. It’s just that simple.

You don’t have to come up with a huge prize to get responses to a giveaway. Obviously, the bigger the prize, the more people will want it, but even a $20 gift card can get some good attention on social media.

You may be able to work with a sponsor for giveaways and contests as well, or with blogging groups. This way you don’t have to spend so much money on it, and you’re not the only one promoting the giveaway at first.

Most giveaways require that visitors sign up for a newsletter, share the post on social media, or taking a photo and posting it on social media with a relevant hashtag. Exactly what you should require entrants to do will depend on what you think will work best for your giveaway. You want it to be easy and fun to enter.

Take some time to review laws in your area regarding giveaways and contests. You don’t want to get into legal trouble.

phone

Cool Photos

Did you just take a photo you love? Share it on your social media even if it’s not directly related to your business. That sunset photo, picture of your cat doing something cute or whatever else comes out well can do well on social media. There’s also the classic photo of your dinner when it just looks that delicious.

Memes can also be fun to share. You can even create your own if you like. But even something created by other people may get shares and likes. If your social media accounts make people smile, they’ll probably keep following you.

Be careful when sharing photos that aren’t yours, however. You don’t want to run afoul of copyright laws. Some uses may be considered fair use, while other uses break copyright laws.

Memories

What was it like when you first started your blog? How have you changed? How has your blog changed?

it can be interesting for followers to see how a site has changed. It’s also an opportunity to open up about challenges you’ve overcome while growing your online business.

Quick Tips And Challenges

Do you have a bit of advice to share that isn’t enough for a blog post but is still interesting? Share it on your social media.

This could be something as simple as challenging your followers to do something on a particular day or a bit of advice on handling a life obstacle. Keep it simple and encourage your followers to respond to the tip or challenge.

Polls And Quizzes

Have you ever noticed how often polls and quizzes get shared on social media? When they’re done just right, it’s pretty amazing how many people will respond to them, even when the results have no real meaning. I mean, does it really matter which Disney Princess you are?

You may even get some useful information if you make the poll or quiz relevant to your niche. Make sure you have a solid privacy policy in place and respect your users and the information they share with you.

User Generated Content

This idea won’t work for every blogger, but if your followers share pictures or reviews about your products or blog, share them on your own social media.

First of all, this shows that people like what you’re doing. It’s proof that you’re doing something right.

But it also makes the person who shared with you feel good. You’re paying attention to them. You noticed what they said about your site or product. That will make them an even bigger fan.

Statistics

Have you come across an interesting statistic for your niche? Share it!

People like interesting statistics. They often share or like them on social media.

Now That You Have Your Social Media Content Ideas…

Getting social media content ideas is only the beginning. You also need to know how to use it.

Content that works well on Twitter, for example, may flop on Pinterest or Instagram. People use Facebook and LinkedIn in entirely different ways. Your social media content ideas must be adapted to each platform you use them on – you can’t do the same thing on all of your accounts.

Besides, you’ll annoy your audience if all your social media is identical. They expect different things on different platforms, even if they follow you multiple ways.

Creating a spreadsheet for your posts may help. I prefer to set mine up for each social media platform. Then I list the blog post title and the promotion dates.

For content that is seasonal, such as for holidays, back to school and so forth, set up spreadsheets that will help you remember to promote them in advance of each event.

Use Social Media Scheduling Tools

You don’t want your social media marketing to eat up your entire workday. While it can be difficult to commit to paying the cost of some social media scheduling tools, they’re often well worth the cost when it comes to time saved. This way you can spend more of your time coming up with social media content ideas, rather than on scheduling them out.

While there are a lot of great choices out there, I use just two – Hootsuite and Tailwind.

Hootsuite can be used to schedule content to run on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. There are also apps you can add in to extend Hootsuite even further.

I mostly use Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I tried scheduling my pins with it, but I found that integration difficult to use.

Tailwind for Pinterest, on the other hand, works great for me. It is so easy to schedule pins out with Tailwind. It’s well worth the subscription. I save a ton of time using it.

Most tools are cheaper if you pay at least a year at a time. This may feel risky, but there’s also usually a free trial, so you’ll know what you’re getting into before you commit a lot of money.

There are still things I do on each social media site itself – not all of my social media interactions are done using tools. I post on a lot of group boards on Pinterest, for example, and most require that you share other content from that board. Can’t schedule that on Tailwind – I have to go to the site and do it myself.

Scheduling tools not only make it faster to schedule your social media content – they help keep you from spending an excessive amount of time on these sites. If you had to go to each social media site every time you wanted to share a post, you’d probably get sucked in too often. Social media becomes a time waster all too easily. Keeping it at a distance except at those times you’re deliberately being social is a huge help.

If you haven’t tried a social media scheduling tool, I suggest you try one now. Take a free trial and find out how much faster you can schedule out your social media. Your life may become much easier.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated December 3rd, 2018

So You Want To Quit Your Job And Work At Home…

So You Want To Quit Your Job And Work At Home...

You’ve reached that point where you don’t want to work outside the home anymore – you’re ready to quit your job and work at home instead. There are many reasons why this can be tempting – the need or desire to care for young children or elderly family members, a too-long daily commute, a job that just really isn’t what you want. Whatever the reason, it’s rarely a good idea to just quit and hope a good work at home job comes along. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into first.

First, let’s look at some of the roadblocks you may face, some of the things that make working at home perhaps not quite as pleasant as you may think. If you’re considering working at home, after all, you’ve probably already thought of most of the positives. It’s the negatives that really determine whether or not you can successfully work at home, however.

Lots of Scams

This is the big one, and hopefully something you’re already aware of. It’s very easy to be scammed when looking for ways to work at home. You really have to be careful, and do your research when considering potential employers or business opportunities. The overeager and desperate fall for work at home scams all too easily.

This is why it may be safer to quit your job after you’ve found a legitimate work at home job. You won’t be so desperate if you still have money coming in.

While many work at home scams are easy to spot, others are more challenging. Sometimes you may not realize that you are in the process of being scammed until during the supposed job interview. Scammers will use the names of legitimate remote employers to hide their scams and build trust.

Anytime you apply for a work at home job, make sure that you’re communicating with the person or company you think you’re communicating with. A Gmail address is one of many signs that it may be a scam.

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Benefits Aren’t Always Available

Not all work at home jobs offer benefits such as health insurance. If you’re the one providing coverage for your family, this is a really big deal. And it’s not just health insurance; it’s dental insurance, a 401k, paid vacations and so forth that aren’t so common when you work at home. If you need benefits, you’ve just cut way down on your potential employers. If you want to work for yourself, you’ll have to figure out deal with these things all on your own.

My husband gets the usual benefits from his job, so for us, health insurance isn’t a problem. Retirement savings in my name, on the other hand, are an issue we need to pay more attention to.

A part of why a company may not offer benefits is because they hire remote workers for part time positions only. Other times you may be considered an independent contractor.

That said, there are a number of remote employers who offer benefits. Make this a part of your search if you need benefits.

Isolation

Many people find working from home too isolating. You have no coworkers stopping by when you’re at home, only the other residents of your home. Many people find this far too difficult to deal with and eventually decide they’d rather go back to work outside the home. Others find it perfect. It’s not too bad for me – I’m more of an introvert, but even I sometimes feel the need for more interaction with other adults than I get.

There are a lot of things you can do to handle your feelings of isolation when you work at home. Social media can be a start, as can sites such as Slack. While you have to balance your use of these with having a productive day, they can give you a bit of that social time you would get if you worked outside the home.

Planning time out with friends outside of work hours can also help. It won’t always be possible to get together with people in person, but that’s true no matter where you work. Just do the best you can.

woman thinking

Too Many Distractions

There are a lot of distractions in your home, kids, pets, television, internet access, neighbors, etc. Quick distractions turn easily into longer term issues if you aren’t careful.

I found it to be a huge help when my kids went off to school. Suddenly I had hours of work time with no kids underfoot. It didn’t help with the other potential distractions, but every bit helps. There’s no stopping the cats, however. They love to be distracting.

Controlling distractions involves limiting social media, keeping the television and streaming media turned off, and enforcing boundaries with family and friends. It’s not always easy. But if you want to work at home successfully, you have to do it.

No Supervision

No one is checking up on you when you work at home, at least not directly. Your employer may pay attention to your productivity, or you may have a customer service position that requires you be on the phone at certain times, but there’s still no one right there able to see that you’re slacking off. Some people work well without supervision; others absolutely need it.

You have to accept the responsibility that comes with greater independence when you work at home. Many people find a to do list very helpful in making sure they get done all the things they need to do each day.

work at home distractions

Flexible Hours

Yes, flexible hours can be a negative, a big one! It’s very easy to work too many hours or too few when you have complete control of your schedule. Be ready to keep control of your work hours as you follow this more independent path, for the sake of your income as well as your family time and free time.

Making an effective work at home schedule for yourself is vital. While your schedule may be set by your employer in some cases, other times it’s entirely up to you. It’s up to you to figure out how to make all this work. Experiment if you have to so that you find the most effective work at home routine you have.

Income May Not Be Stable

Depending on what you do, your work at home income may not be as stable as your outside the home job income was. Home business incomes are rarely all that stable, especially in the early days. Jobs may pay on production rather than hourly or salary, and can also be highly variable. If you need a more stable income, make sure the job you take can provide that.

In the years that I’ve worked at home, I’ve earned as little as a few hundred in a month, and as much as $10,000. If I relied too much upon a particular number, we could have a lot of problems. Fortunately, we have a stable income from my husband, and while it’s not sufficient on its own, it’s enough that mine can vary without hurting our financial position significantly.

switch to home office

Once You’ve Faced The Negatives…

If the negatives haven’t scared you off, it’s time to look at making things a reality. As with any other job hunt, you’re better off if you start searching while you’re still employed. You’re less desperate for work this way, less likely to fall for scams because you need the money so badly, and many people believe you look better to potential employers if you’re currently working when you apply.

There are a number of things you need to do when you want to get started working at home. Planning your job hunt out is a huge help.

The first thing you need to do is update your resume for your work at home job hunt. Remote employers look for some of the same things other employers do, but they also expect more independence and initiative from their employees. They’re looking for people who will thrive without supervision.

The best work at home jobs for you will usually be related to what you do right now. Sometimes making the switch to working from home requires a complete career change, but look for positions that relate to skills you already have. It will make your search easier.

If you don’t have the skills for the remote jobs you want, get them! This may be something you can do before you quit your job to look for a work at home job or something you do after.

Jobs such as medical transcription and medical coding, for example, require training. You have to pay for that training yourself – employers won’t do it for you. But with training and possibly some outside the home experience, these may be great career choices.

You will also need to set up a home office. How you go about this will depend on the kind of work you will do from home. Do you need absolute quiet and privacy, or can you have other people come in while you work? These things make a big difference.

laptop

Be Ready For A Long Job Hunt

Many people find the amount of time it takes to find a work at home job frustrating. What they forget is that it takes a long time to find an outside the home job too.

One common estimate for job hunting is to expect to take one month of job hunting for every $10,000 a year you expect to earn.

This isn’t exact, of course. It varies tremendously by industry, the timing of your hunt and many other factors. But it gets the point across.

Job hunting isn’t fast. You’re fooling yourself if you expect otherwise.

If you need things to get moving faster, you have options. You may not always like them, but they’re there.

The first is to get an outside the home job if you’re unemployed at the current time. Earning money is a necessity for most people. Don’t dismiss opportunities only because they aren’t ideal.

You can also take on freelance opportunities. The work may not be as steady as you’d like, especially when you’re just starting out, but once again, it’s better than nothing. And sometimes freelancing can pay better than working for someone else. That freelance business you start might just be your new career.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 26th, 2018

How Do You Balance The Holiday Rush With Your Home Business?

How Do You Balance The Holiday Rush With Your Home Business?

The holiday season is a hectic time for most of us. Not only are there all the usual things to deal with in terms of running a home business or otherwise working at home, there are all the extra delights the holidays bring. Extra shopping. More demands for family time, especially with extended family. Lots of events to consider attending. Traditions to follow.

All this makes it difficult to balance the holiday rush with your home business.

Sometimes the holidays really throw a wrench into your plans to follow a normal work schedule. There’s so much to be done, and you’re usually the one with the flexible schedule expected to handle it.

It gets even more difficult when you’re looking at the things you enjoy doing. You may feel more motivated to do the fun stuff and less motivated to work on the things that bring an income in, at least until you start thinking about the incoming bills.

This isn’t something that people who work outside the home always understand. They can work their usual hours and handle all the holiday stuff, no problem. Why can’t you?

It’s more challenging to deal with the holiday rush when you work at home because you often aren’t working standard business hours. You may work a part of the day, then again at night. You may work weekends. Or maybe you work when it fits into your schedule.

That flexibility means your work hours often take a hit when life gets busy. It’s so much easier to hit the store during the day in the middle of the week when more people are at work than it is at other times. You take less time on errands that way. The only problem is that you take away work time.

How Do You Decide How Much To Work?

It’s helpful to decide how much work you need to do to keep up the income you need to have at this time of year. There’s no one answer to that. If you have a lot of passive income, you may be able to let things go for a while. If you earn based directly on the work you do, you will need to work as usual, especially if your family badly needs the money.

This takes sacrifice if a lot of family events are at times you’d usually be working. That’s the life you chose when you decided to work at home. You may be your own boss, but that often means being a harsh taskmaster. Find a way to get that work done.

For many home business owners, working later at night or starting your day earlier in the morning may be the answer. You have 24 hours in a day no matter how much you need to get done.

christmas laptop

Know When To Take Time Off

We all need time off, and the stressful holiday season is no exception.

If you’re feeling tired or burned out, it’s time for a break, even if you have a lot more to get done. You will be more productive after you’ve taken a break. Don’t stare at your computer monitor, getting nothing done just because you’ve told yourself you need to get a certain number of hours of work done today. Staring at the monitor doesn’t count as work, it only counts as wearing yourself out.

Also, make sure you aren’t overdoing the holiday fun too much. If you’re stressing about decorating your home just right or baking all of the perfect holiday treats, it’s not so much fun anymore. The holidays, no matter which ones you celebrate, should be enjoyed by all. That includes you.

If you have clients, let them know as soon as possible what your vacation schedule will be. It’s a huge help for them if they know that you will not be available certain days.

When in doubt, give yourself a little extra time off from clients, rather than too little. You don’t always know exactly when life will be back to normal during the holidays – they’re hectic and rarely go exactly as planned.

And then there are all the little events you may need to attend, such as

  • School concerts or other performances
  • Family gatherings
  • Holiday events with coworkers – yours or your spouse’s
  • Getting together with friends and/or neighbors.

These don’t go away just because you didn’t clear time for them in your schedule. Take that time off to enjoy the fun and social side of the holiday season.

Consider Hiring Help

If you just can’t get it all done, this is a great time of year to hire help, whether it’s around the house or for your business.

Hire a housekeeper to get your home clean enough for company if you don’t have the time to do it. Hire someone to hang those Christmas lights on the house.

You may also want to hire someone to do the writing for your site, some research, or whatever else you need help with. You’re better off with this option if you’ve done it before and have either a regular assistant or know how to find good help. Otherwise, it can add to the stress. Teaching someone how to meet your expectations is not easy.

Don’t Hold Yourself To Unnecessary Deadlines

If you’re running your own business, most of your deadlines are the ones you set. You’re the one who knows if the deadline is necessary or just something you set for yourself.

If it’s not necessary to keep to the deadline, don’t! Give yourself a break.

I don’t mean give up and ignore all your deadlines. You still need to get things done and have productive workdays. But there will be times when it makes more sense to ease off on a deadline to get something ready for the holidays.

This takes planning well in advance. If you have clients, they need to know early on that you won’t be putting in as many hours as usual on their projects.

The first thing you should focus on each day is getting the things done that MUST be done. This will give you more flexibility to work on the things that don’t have to be done right away.

Can You Get Ahead Of Schedule?

One way to balance the holiday rush with running a home business is to get ahead of schedule. It’s tough, but if you can do this, you’ll have more time when fun things start happening.

Here are some of the things you can do to get ahead of schedule:

  • Work 1-2 extra hours a day
  • Brainstorm blog post ideas for the season
  • Create link roundups
  • Write extra blog posts and schedule them
  • Update old blog posts and repost as new (this post was originally written in 2010!)
  • Design social media images
  • Plan social media posts, including variations on titles and text
  • Schedule out your social media using tools such as Hootsuite and Tailwind
  • Schedule promotions for your email list
  • Repurpose content for marketing purposes
  • If you ship physical products, prepare them for shipping so all they need is a shipping label.

holiday decor

Get Your House Ready

Somehow, amid all the work you need to do in the holiday rush, you need to get your home ready for the holidays. This is something you should do outside of work hours, of course.

Sometimes that includes preparing your home office to be a guest room. It may be time to get that space company ready, not just productive work ready. Make sure you prepare an alternate space for those times when you need to work while your home office is a guest room, or be sure that your guests understand that you will be working in there at times. Just how well that will work depends on your guests.

Decorating your home for the holidays can be a break from work. Take the time to enjoy yourself and your family. Create memories.

Depending on the kind of home business you run, this may even be inspiring. You may be able to share some of your holiday preparations in a blog post, for example. Think of things you do for the holidays that relate to your niche and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Prepare To Work As You Travel

If you’re traveling to visit family or just take a vacation during the holidays, you may decide that you want to keep working while you’re away from home. There’s often downtime when you’d just be sitting around anyhow. If you want to use that time to work, make plans to do so.

If you don’t normally work on your laptop or tablet, make sure that the equipment you’re bringing with you has everything you need in order to be productive. Also, know when you’ll have wifi available and when you’ll need to use your smartphone’s data connection.

It’s a good idea to bring along an external battery charger when you’re traveling. This will keep the worries about having enough power for your tech to a minimum. Buy one that’s good for several charges on your phone or other devices. Some of the better ones will even have a plug for your laptop.

Don’t assume that you can do heavy duty work while traveling. You will have much less work time available to you, so whatever work you do while away from home should be things you can work on with distractions around you. Major projects can wait for when your work at home schedule goes back to normal.

You will also need to talk to those you’re traveling with or visiting. Make sure they understand what your plans are. If you’re at your parents’ house, you don’t want them upset that you keep disappearing into the bedroom to work rather than sitting and chatting for the entire visit. Let them know that you’ll need some of that time to keep your home business running.

And be sure you spend a good amount of time being social with the people you’re with. That’s the whole point of the trip, isn’t it?

Prepare For Sick Days

The weather is getting colder, and everyone around you is bringing cold and flu viruses home. While you can get a flu shot to cut down on the odds that you get the flu, or help shorten it if you do catch the flu, there’s nothing you can do about it if you catch a cold but deal with it.

Toughing it out rather than taking a sick day can be a big mistake. You may end up sick longer than if you had simply taken a day or two off. It’s hard to be certain, of course, as you can’t compare the two directly.

If you’re sick enough that it’s hard to work, take the day off and don’t feel bad about it. You’d do that if you worked outside the home, wouldn’t you? The smartest thing you can do is give yourself time to get over the bug.

enjoy holidays

Remember To Enjoy the Season

No matter which holidays you’re celebrating this time of year, remember to enjoy them. Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking about work when you’re supposed to be having fun. The work will still be there when you come back to it.

Step away from the smartphone as well as your computer. You truly do not need to be available to your business 24/7, especially during the holiday season. A 2012 survey found that many professionals keep in contact with their work by smartphone for 13.5 hours a day and 5 hours a day on weekends dealing with email. 51% of consultants in one survey checked email regularly even on vacation.

Take a break!

Spend time with family and friends!

Work will be there later.

Taking a break from work will help you enjoy your holidays more, and you’ll be more refreshed when you return.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 19th, 2018

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

I’m seeing the secret sister gift exchange all over Facebook right now. I have a few friends who are participating, and it just makes me wince. Simply put, the secret sister gift exchange is a pyramid scheme, and illegal.

A lot of people don’t understand that. $10 seems like such a small risk, and it is. But the odds of receiving the promised 6 or 36 gifts is poor, especially since it depends not only on how well you recruit people into it, but how well your recruits bring people into the deal as well.

How Is The Secret Sister Gift Exchange Supposed To Work?

The basic premise is so simple. You send your gift to the person whose name appears at the top of the list you receive. When you send the list to your recruits, you remove the person you sent a gift to, and put the second person’s name at the top. Your name becomes the second name on the list.

There is often a push to do this quickly so that everyone gets their gifts in time for Christmas. Your six people send to the top of the list, and their people, now totaling 36 people, send gifts to you. It sounds wonderful.

Legally, however, this falls under the same laws as chain letters and lotteries. It’s not something you want to mess with. Not many people will get in legal trouble for doing the secret sister gift exchange, but why try your luck? It’s a federal crime, according to the Post Office. It also may be a crime by the laws in your state.

If you have any doubts, check out this notice on Facebook from the USPS. It explains things pretty well.

Do The Math

If you do the math on the secret sister gift exchange, you can quickly see why it will quickly run out, even if everyone finds enough people and everyone sends their gifts. Both of those are pretty iffy themselves.

Six people each finding six people means they need 36 people. Those 36 people need a total of 216 people, who need 1296 people. Keep this going for five more levels, and you need 10,077,696 people. That’s a difficult number, but not completely impossible. Highly unlikely, of course.

It only takes 13 levels to get beyond the entire population of the planet. Even assuming some people participate more than once, it’s not going to happen.

This means it won’t take long at all for people to have trouble finding someone to send gifts. Many people who try to join in won’t get anything in return. Most will simply fail to get a full six people sending gifts, and their people in return will have trouble finding enough people.

You might get a few gifts, but usually, that’s it. Between the number of people needed for everyone to get their gifts and the difficulty in recruiting people, it’s just not going to go that well.

There are also gift exchanges where the focus is on wine. It has the same problem as this one. Just don’t join in. The wine version also presents challenges in shipping it legally.

Talking Friends Out Of The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It can be hard to call this out as a scam. I’ve seen people call friends names for trying to explain why the secret sister gift exchange doesn’t work or is illegal.

I would imagine that most people have trouble admitting the problems with the gift exchange because they’re already invested in it. They’ve promised to send a gift to someone else, or have even sent it already.

It’s worth a try, even if the friend who posts the gift exchange won’t listen. Someone else might.

Be polite when you try to discourage friends from this. No one will respond well if they feel foolish. You should also remember that the people participating don’t mean to scam or cheat anyone. They’re trying to do something fun. No one in this means any harm by it.

That doesn’t change the legal issues. Or the fact that eventually there are people who won’t get anything in return.

Then there’s the risk in putting your personal information out there for random people. You may know all the people you recruit into the gift exchange, but it’s the people they recruit who will be sending you gifts, and they’ll get your name and address too. Are you comfortable with that?

Alternatives To The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It may be better to suggest setting up a basic secret Santa gift exchange, where everyone in a group draws a name and buys for one other person. No grand promises of dozens of gifts. Just a simple gift exchange among friends. It’s much simpler and legal when you avoid the chain letter aspects of the secret sister gift exchange. Best of all, you know that everyone gets a gift.

If you want something to feel good about, donate to a local cause. There are lots of wonderful causes out there, and even a $10 donation will be welcome. You won’t get a gift back, but you will have done something good.

As illegal actions go, this is a minor one, and I doubt many people ever get prosecuted for it. But why take the chance when a simpler gift exchange works just fine?

secret sister infographicClick for full size

The secret sister gift exchange isn’t the usual kind of scam I write about here, but it’s popular enough I consider it worth a mention. If you’d like to learn more about work at home scams, take a look at the ones I’ve covered on this site.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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