“Is it really possible? Can you really run a successful Virtual Assistant Business from a home office AND manage to have kids at home? How do you do it? ”
While I have researched countless blogs and advice for Work-at-home Moms, I have yet to find any advice that actually WORKS.
Have set hours? Yeah right, until the school has the nerve to throw in a PA day!
Have strict boundaries around business time and family time? PSHAW! When your kids want something from you they want it NOW. Not when your office hours are over. Most of us are left feeling guilty about not working enough AND guilty about working too much.
I say, to heck with that. Do what works. Even if it goes against everything the ‘experts‘ have told you about entrepreneurial parenting. Even if it’s a little ‘cray-cray’. Here are some of my tried, true and tested tips and techniques for managing:
1. Always let your phone go to voicemail. Never pick up that call while kiddos are home – even in a seemingly quiet state. If you make this mistake, your kids will know instantly and world war 3 will break out in a frenzy of scream-crying. Similarly if you have to make an important call, I suggest locking yourself in the bathroom first. With the shower running – this will ensure you drown out ANY background noise shenanigans.
2. Get used to the idea of serving cold cereal for supper. I actually am one of those strange sorts who ENJOYS cooking. And I love vegetables. And while I’m all for cooking big, healthy, home made meals for the family, sometimes, when you run a business from home, it just isn’t possible. You WILL end up having the 10 year old pour bowls of cereal for the younger ones. More than once.
3. Enlist the help of a babysitter. In no way am I suggesting you fork out cash for a live-in Nanny (although that sounds appealing). Nope – you need to suck up big time to the grandparents. They are your best bet to take the kiddos out of your hair for a few hours. Give them prezzies to show your appreciation often! If that’s not possible, you might consider paying an older child a few bucks just to come over and play with your kids for a few hours. This works especially well on summer breaks when EVERYONE is bored. Finally – ignore the advice of the parenting experts and use the TV as a sitter. I find this works best when you stick a movie on (they last longer). Throw in a bowl of popcorn for guaranteed quiet!
4. Embrace the mess. Just accept the fact now that your house is never, ever going to be clean and tidy again. Or at least not until the kids leave for College.
5. Know that your office will become everyone’s favorite place to play. Even if you have the most pimped-out playroom on the planet, your kiddos will prefer to play in your office. While you put together your client’s 6-figure launch, Barbie and Ken will make their new dream home under your desk. In fact, your foot will probably be their sofa and you will have to train yourself to drown out the loud conversation they are having through the mouth of your toddler. Following that you will also become a human jungle gym. For best results, learn to type while toddlers are climbing you.
6. Understand early on, that you are going to become a shift worker. You need to get used to the fact that your workday no longer ends at 5pm. Oooohhhh noooo…it’s just getting started! You still have to make a healthy dinner, bath tired and cranky humans, read 101 Dalmations for the thirty-eleventh time and put together healthy school lunches for tomorrow before you can even THINK about finishing up that client work! Your Virtual Assistant work will often take place early in the morning or late at night (after kiddos are asleep). There’s nothing wrong with that! Making your own hours is part of the amazing-ness of being a VA!
Can you have an at home Virtual Assistant Business with kids at home? Yup – absolutely. I do it with 3 of them. But understand that you will never be typical. Be creative. Laugh at the moments that make you want to cry… and love every minute of it.