When you work at home with small children, one big consideration is how you deal with the kids while you’re working. Smaller children need a lot more attention, and it’s not always easy to figure out how to make it all work. The temptation to add a play area to your home office can be enormous. But is it the right decision?
That depends on a few factors. We’ll start with the problems with adding a play area.
Adding a play area for your kids may mess with your ability to take a home office deduction. If you aren’t taking that deduction, obviously this is not an issue, but it’s something to consider and bring up with a tax professional if you want the deduction. I can’t tell you for certain how it works if they only play while your work, but if the kids use your office for a play area or homework at other times, it’s absolutely not going to work. A home office must meet an exclusive use requirement, and letting the kids play in there is going to mess with that.
Kids at play are distracting. Possibly less distracting than wondering what they’re up to in the other room, but still distracting.
This can be a huge issue if you’re on the phone a lot, whether as a customer service representative or talking to clients on your own. Kids playing can be anything from a minor distraction to the reason you lose your job. Know whether or not you can afford the distraction.
There are risks to having your child play in your home office too. Odds are there are a lot of power outlets with cords coming out, your chair may have wheels that can roll over small fingers or feet, kids may knock things down. If you want your kids in your home office, make sure you look at how you can make it safe for their age.
Of course, there are advantages as well.
Kids Are Right There
This can be a huge advantage with small children, if they let you work. No worries about what they’re getting into. They’re in easy reach if they need you. They get to spend time with you even though they aren’t your main focus when you’re working.
You’re Setting an Example
I believe that work at home parents can set a very good example for their kids. You’re showing them how to make work a part of their lives, how you help support your family. I like making sure my kids know that there’s more to life than being a mother, even when I’m prioritizing motherhood.