For most of us working out of our home is a massive advantage – and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. But as a parent, maintaining a barrier between work and family is a significant challenge. Just by being home you open yourself up to running your kids errands, myriad homework questions and the overwhelming blare of video games in the background.

It isn’t easy juggling the demands of parenthood with those of running your own business, but it can be done. What are some guidelines you can use to get the best of both worlds: being there for your kids while still maintaining a work environment in which you can be productive?

The most important thing is to be realistic about what you can achieve and whether you are prepared to infringe on family time to achieve it. From personal experience and feedback from numerous other entrepreneurs, we’ve created a few guidelines for you to consider:

1. Separate your time. Try separating work days and family days. An answering machine with a business message takes care of business phone calls on family days.

Of course, sometimes you can’t avoid doing work on family days. If you need to, make sure it doesn’t become a regular thing and try and arrange for some fun time for the children, either while you work, or when you have finished. You don’t need to mention to your clients and prospects that your day is filled with ballet practice and visits to the park. Just say that your calendar is full on that day and suggest another day and time.

2. Child care can be a good thing. Don’t feel bad about leaving your child in someone else’s care. It pays off to put some real effort into finding the quality care, even if it’s just one day a week. While you’ll likely do research and have some referrals, trust your instinct on the places you visit and the caregivers you interview. We’re all different and only you know what’s right for you.

3. Manage time with thoughtful goals in mind. Even when we are efficient in using our time, we may not be effective we do things right but we don’t do the right things. Often, we don’t plan and schedule activities that move us toward our goals, especially our personal ones. We simply move from one reaction to the other, never really giving much thought into the fire drills we’re responding to whether work or personal ones.

Try thinking about your children as an actual goal, much as you would your work. Similarly, treat your business like one of your children by giving it some of your undivided attention and letting it grow at a pace to fit in with your family.

Being a business parent means that there will be times when you just can’t avoid parental responsibilities, especially when children are sick. If you have a large network of family and friends to call upon, this may not affect you too often. For the most part, people will be understanding and will appreciate your honesty.

Most important, take it easy on yourself as you begin to establish a new routine around your business and childre’s needs. Know that with these important tips in mind, you’re well on your way to establishing a healthier, more productive and balanced lifestyle.

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