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When EPs Have to Get to Work

Finally, the doorbell has rung, the babysitter is here, and it's time to get down to business. But how do you get to work when your toddler knows you're just in the other room?

© 1997, by Lisa M. Roberts

Parents don't have to leave the house for their children to experience separation anxiety. For most families, this occurs most often at bedtime -- but when parents work at home it can happen at "work time" too. How do you handle the transition when you switch your hat from Dad or Mom to Professional without even walking out the door?

In a word, creatively! Here's a few suggestions:

1. Have your child design a sign for your office door. When it's turned one way, she can come in; when it's turned the other, she knows you can't be interrupted. Then once the babysitter is over, let your child "tuck you in" your office, close the door behind her and turn the sign. Let her walk away from you instead of you walking away from her.

2. Try to find a babysitter who enjoys arts and crafts projects. Then save these hands-on activities (finger painting, sand art, clay molding, etc.) only for when your sitter comes. "Talk up" the activity beforehand, so your son just can't wait for the babysitter to walk through that door!

3. Ask your child to make you something special for your office while you're working. Say, "Mommy has to work now, and I'm going to miss you -- will you make me something pretty so I can put it on my desk while I work?" Then put his creation -- with great fanfare -- in a special spot on your desk. Decorate your office walls with your children's drawings and paintings so they know you're thinking about them even when you close your office door.

4. Take a few moments to transition the babysitter in before heading to your office. Treat her like you would a relative or member of the family...sit down with her and your child for coffee and milk to discuss what's happening that day. During this time your child will be mentally preparing for you to "leave." Then slip away when moods are intact and the babysitter is distracting your child with a fun toy or activity.

5. If your baby/toddler/pre-schooler CRIES anyway, non-stop, remember the lessons learned during bedtime separation anxiety:

  • Develop a set, up to 30-minute routine (15 minutes before babysitter arrives & 15 minutes after) surrounding this transition time.
  • For the first few days with a new babysitter, let your child cry (if you are confident your babysitter is competent!). If you have to, come out in 15-minute intervals for reassurance, stretching to half-hour intervals until the crying stops. Remember, it may take a few days before your child knows what is expected of him, and what to expect of you. But if you stay consistent, he'll settle down into the new routine.

6. If your pre-schooler/school-age children ask, "Why do you have to work?" take the opportunity to teach them a lesson in economics. Say, "If I work today, I'll get paid tomorrow." Then the next day take your child on errands: first to the bank to deposit a check a client gave you, then to the store to purchase some household product your child can relate to. Once they understand the importance of your work, they will respect the time you put towards it more. And don't forget to share the rewards of your work with them -- through small but special treats and celebrations!

© 1997 Lisa M. Roberts, all rights reserved. The above article is an excerpt from How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business, a title highly recommended by La Leche League, Home Office Computing and the Family Christian Bookclub. Order your own copy today!

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