10 things to remember for the single, ‘Stay at home’ parent who still wants a career.
1. It’s possible. You can do both and you can do both well.
2. You and your clients will adapt. Great client relationships are built on mutual respect. Your clients work with you because they want to. And so, like any good relationship, the respect flows both ways. If you can deliver great work, hit deadlines and manage expectations there is no reason why you can’t operate in a traditional client environment from an otherwise highly untraditional one.
3. Your child will adapt too. Amazingly even very young toddlers will give you a break if you ask them to. It may involve some cleverly timed distraction and bribery but they soon learn that “Darling, Mummy is on the phone” is a sign that it is time to go and play elsewhere.
4. It’s cheaper! Let’s face it, wherever you are in the world child care is expensive. Whether you have a nanny, an au pair or put your child in nursery, having them at home is nice for you both, and for your pocket.
5. Days like these are inevitable. We all saw a fantastic glimpse into the ‘working from home’ Dad’s world last week: http://bit.ly/2mRC99j Days like this will happen, how you deal with them is what people remember. Smile, apologise, move on. If you have achieved #2 above even a live video interview with the BBC is salvageable!
6. Eat! You know that 5pm dinner time, the one for toddlers and ‘old people’? Well guess what– you eat then too or you’re not going to eat. Cook your fussy monster something you can eat and enjoy too. Forget the fish fingers (they’ll eat what you put in front of them if you separate it in one of those over-priced plates that makes sure the spaghetti doesn’t touch the veg)!
7. Know when to ask for help. Sometimes we think we can do it all. We’re super heroes — single parents who keep our s**t together and keep our work and life in perfect balance (sometimes). But you are going to find times when you need to ask for help. This might mean rescheduling a meeting by half an hour so you can get your offspring to a minder, or timing ‘that call’ with their nap. Sometimes it’s simply asking a friend to take them to the park. You don’t have to do it alone!
8. Keep certain things off limits. Make sure there is an area in your home that is off limits to said toddler. It probably isn’t realistic to keep them out of your office (or even away from your desk) but if they know they “musn’t touch Mummy’s computer” then you might just avoid that gibberish email that got sent to your entire address book.
9. Take breaks. There’s the chance that your toddler actually seeing you work during the day (rather than being oblivious to it if they were elsewhere) means that they will think Mummy or Daddy is “always working”. Make sure you schedule enough breaks throughout the day to pay them attention and do things together, even if it means nipping onto the wifi at the local soft play.
10. Let them help! If they are having one of those days when they just want to be with you and you have a tonne to do, set them up next to you and let them mimic what you are doing on a computer or tablet. Let them know they are doing a great job of helping you do your work.