One of the biggest disadvantages to working at home has to be coping with the kids. It’s one of the biggest advantages too, but that’s beside the point just now. I’m talking about the times that you just don’t want the kids underfoot.
Especially if toddlers are involved. Home offices and computers in particular need to be protected from toddlers! They may not be able to accidentally download a virus yet, but the damage they can do just by randomly pounding keys is nothing short of amazing.
A childproofed office makes it easier to be productive. You don’t have to worry as much if the kids come in while you’re working, and you may be able to keep them out entirely. The challenge is making it childproof in the first place.
Close the Door
If your home office has a door, closing it is one of the simplest steps you can take to childproofing your work area. Younger kids can’t open it and older kids can be taught not to go into your home office without permission or need.
If you don’t have a door, you’ll need to do a lot more childproofing. Realistically, even with a door you’ll probably want to take more childproofing steps for those times one of the kids gets in there.
Establish Rules About Your Working Hours
If you’re working when the kids are awake, you’re going to need some rules about when they can interrupt you. Younger kids will need simpler rules, and if you’re the only adult in the house when you’re working you need to expect some interruptions.
As kids get older they get better at entertaining themselves and can deal with stricter rules. Tell them they can only interrupt you for emergencies.
Protect Your Computer
The computer is a major asset to most home businesses. It’s not just the value of the machine. It’s all the information on it. You really don’t want the kids messing with it.
If you have toddlers around, make sure they can’t play with the buttons on the front of the computer itself. I’ve gone so far as to cover them with cardboard when I’ve had a computer in reach of a child. The power button in particular often has pretty lights on or near it that draw a toddler’s attention and makes the button irresistible.
You’ll also need to protect your mouse and keyboard. It’s amazing what a toddler can do by pounding on a keyboard, and sometimes it’s hard to undo what they’ve done.
You can also protect your computer from toddlers by setting a password so that you have to login when you’ve been away for a period of time. Choose the time wisely so it doesn’t drive you nuts when you’re using the computer.
If your kids are allowed to use your business computer, set up rules that will protect your computer. Require approval on downloads. Be in the room whenever possible when your kids are using the computer. Talk to them at age appropriate levels about the hazards of the internet.
Keep Cords and Outlets Safe
Kids find cords fascinating. Outlets are pretty neat too. You don’t want them messing around with either.
Most times they won’t get hurt. I’ve had kids unplug things on me, and it’s just a distraction, not a danger. But you don’t want your kids messing with cords, wrapping them around their necks, chewing on them as they teethe, you get the idea.
Find a cord organizer that works for you. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just something to keep the bulk of the cords out of the reach of children.
As for outlets, simple outlet covers do a pretty good job. You can buy covers that protect outlets while still allowing items to remain plugged in.
Know Your Noise Limits
Sometimes the amount of noise your kids make while you’re working doesn’t matter. Other times it’s a big deal.
Buy a noise cancelling headset for your phone for those times that you can’t have background noise on a call. They’re affordable and a big help when you don’t want background noises to make it on the call. They may not get everything if the kids are being particularly loud, but they’re a big help.
Noise can also be a distraction that makes it harder to be productive. Talk to your family about how much noise you’re comfortable with when you’re working in your office.