The flexibility that often comes with working at home is great. You can really be there for your kids when they need you.

The only problem is that sometimes other parents want you to be there for their kids too much. A little is one thing but too much interferes with your work schedule and can feel like a burden. It’s really hard to say no once the habit is built, but sometimes you have to.

Then there are your own family and friends who can expect that you’ll be able to help them out whenever they need it. This can be incredibly disruptive to your daily routine, but when they know your schedule is flexible, they don’t like to take no for an answer.

When to Say No

We all like to help our family and friends when they need us. The problem is defining when they need our help versus times that they need to find another solution because it’s taking too much of our own time. You have to know it’s okay for you to speak up when you can’t help out because it doesn’t fit in your own schedule.

Watching someone else’s kids is one of the most common issues for work at home moms, and whether it works for you or not depends on the situation. Watching a baby takes a lot more care than watching an 8 year old who plays well with your own 8 year old, and that’s a very different situation from watching an 8 year old who doesn’t get along with your own 8 year old.

The main point to remember is that if you don’t take your at home job or home business seriously, no one else will. If watching someone’s child or children interferes with your ability to earn a living, that’s a problem. You can’t watch their child, or at least not without appropriate compensation, and if you earn enough from your work, there may not be reasonable compensation that can be paid for the loss of work hours. Not that you can’t be there for emergencies, but when daily or even weekly visits don’t work out, speak up!

Even if you aren’t earning much, your ability to work and eventually create an income makes your work time worth something. Don’t treat your business as less than serious just because the income isn’t there yet, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s less just because the income isn’t there. The income won’t be there until you make your business work. That takes serious, focused work time. You can’t be doing too many things for others when you need to do your own work, just as you wouldn’t if you were working a job outside the home.

In fact, that’s not a bad criteria in a lot of cases. If you wouldn’t be taking time off work to help from an outside the home job, is it a situation where you should be taking time off your at home work? You should be treating your at home work just as seriously.

When to Say Yes

Sometimes you’re going to say yes when people ask you for help. Hopefully it’s something that fits into your work schedule, so you can still get the work done while helping someone who needs it. Other times, it’s just that the need is that great.

When it comes to watching someone else’s kids, sometimes it’s to your benefit to agree to help. That would be when having another child or children over means your own will need you less, and so you can work more. That usually doesn’t work out if done on a daily basis, in my experience, but occasional friends over have given me some wonderfully quiet days with my older kids. They’re having too much fun with friends to be trying for my attention. Better yet, friends often want to trade times, so you can get still quieter time by having your kids at their friend’s house. That can be worth a little lost work time.

Overall, the most important thing to remember is that you have to take your work seriously to get others to take it seriously. That’s how you can decide when to help out and when to remind people that you’re working just as they are.