Every woman who simultaneously tries to be a dedicated mother and run a home business knows that it can be quite the handful. The stress of the situation can impact not only on you, but your kids as well. Your kids may feel like they have to share their mother with the business, and with the time and dedication that running a home business demands, your division of time may not always seem fair. While there is no personalized manual on how to deal with this tricky situation, there are a few effective strategies we can discuss.
One important thing for working mothers to consider is that there are healthy and helpful ways to involved your kids in the business. Their involvement can vary from bringing them in for small, fun tasks to sharing larger objectives with them depending on their age and their general interest. With this process, the necessary time you put into your work can be shared with your kids, giving them more mom-time as well as an important role in your business. If that’s not enough, with the model of entrepreneurship and possibility that you give them, you are instilling business skills that can lead them straight to success later in life! Here are some valuable tips on how to integrate your junior partners.
Getting the Kids Involved
Forming a Junior Entrepreneur
There are many ways to get your kids involved in your business. Start simple! Older and younger kids alike can contribute to tasks like organizing a work space or sorting office supplies, packaging or stuffing envelopes and voting on color or design choices. These activities can be a fun responsibility for your kids while helping you out in the process!
This involvement, even in minute ways, can instill fundamental experience for later in life. Letting the kids in on some of your business burden can help them develop a sense of personal responsibility, empathy, modesty and gratitude. In Katie Roiphe’s essay “The Alchemy of Quiet Malice” about single motherhood, she says “Kids of mono-parental families have more and earlier opportunities than their peers to recognize that adults have stories and sensitivities and struggles of their own. In today’s age of imperious, entitled super-children, the kids of single parents often grow up a bit more modest and humane.” In the same sense, children who grow up in entrepreneurial environments where everyone has to pull together to make the from-home business work have similar experiences and develop these valued traits. These children have the opportunity to directly observe their parents working, facing uncertainty and wresting with difficulty and are more prepared for facing these challenges themselves later in life.
Creating a Role of Independence
Older kids will generally be more interested when you offer them a role that makes them feel important. While they may have no interest in organizing paperclips, they could jump on opportunities where they have a say in decisions and feel like their contribution is valued. Maybe you can ask them to help out by designing a structure and overseeing a fun project for the younger kids. Put emphasis on the fact that this is a leadership role and that they have the creative liberties to come up with something both fun and educational.
If you are worried about the amount of independence that you are handing out, there are ways to bring balance to the situation. Try letting them make the ultimate decision based off of options that are given by you. Ask them which color should be most prominent on your business card; pink, red or blue. This method can allow them to feel empowered while you still ultimately have control of the situation. This way everyone is happy!
Another thing to consider is that teenagers are the targets of a wide range of marketing. Because of this, your kid might be the ultimate inside source for offering a intuitive sense of what works. This “partnership” can be extremely valuable for both parties. Bring your older kids back to the drawing board and ask them to help you brainstorm new offerings or marketing strategies. Be sure to acknowledge their contributions and ideas - this lets them know how significant it is to the business to have their input and shows your gratitude for being such an important part in this process.
Organize the Presentation
A good way to make sure that your children’s efforts in your business are properly recognized is to fix a family hour in the beginning of the week where everyone can come together to communicate. At the beginning of the meeting, let your kids have the floor. Let them give you a lowdown on what they have accomplished in the previous week, voice any grievances or concerns and make requests about anything they would like to do differently this next week. Remember that praise for a job well done can make the task ahead more pleasant. Once you and your partner have heard the kids thoroughly and addressed their concerns you can communicate their tasks for the upcoming week. Recording information on a white board or paper stuck on the fridge can help everyone stay on track.
Sometimes you might find that providing incentives can be helpful for creating a fun and motivating work space for your kids. It is important that their responsibilities are balanced off with equivalent or greater rewards to let them know how vital the job is that they are doing. Incentives can vary according to the age of the child. For small children, filling up the piggy bank with a small allowance can be thrilling.
Your weekly family hour is a good time to offer incentives. Create a goal for the business and end your meeting on a note of promise and surprise: announce a fun activity for you and your family as a celebration when your goals are reached! It can be something like a trip to the zoo or a family picnic. When you invest your time to prepare these types of incentives it demonstrates how much you appreciate their hard work.
Praise Publicly, Scold Secretly
This is a golden rule: Make sure to dole out a generous amount of specific praise about what your children do well in a public setting, and make recommendations for improvement in their job performance privately.
When you do have to offer suggestions for how they could be doing a job differently, a one-on-one situation is ideal in creating a positive dialogue. Be sure to include positive feedback with the negative and offer a good explanation of what the issue is. In this situation, asking your kids for their opinion in the matter can help them stay more in tuned with you and ultimately foster a better response.
Highlighting their achievements is essential in the process of getting the kids involved in your business. Frequent praise of their good work in front of family and friends will boost the kids’ morale and confidence, while also creating an urge in them to continue their hard work. Hopefully as your kids become comfortable contributing to your business, your time will feel more manageable and your new Junior Partners will be able to hang out with mom!
How about you? What ideas do you have for getting your kids involved in your business? Tell us in the comments!