With the current world wide isolations in place, because of COVID-19, many of us are now working at home, be it our own business, or for a boss and, for many, this also means having the kids at home. The two can mix quite amicably but it can take time to settle into a routine. Believe me, I’ve done it! Having brought up five young daughters who were aged 7-13 when I started my business in 1994. They’re all grown now, four are married, three with children, and are working at home, doing very different things to me. They followed their passions and found businesses that worked for them.
But, what about in those early days? I find that when there are three or more children in a household they’re more likely to keep each other occupied and less dependent on their parents for attention – depending on their ages, of course. I know it can be harder if there’s just one or two children at home. However, if they’re at an age where they can follow directions and have the ability to help you, why not put them to work in your home office too, just for an hour or two, a few days a week?
What kinds of things can they do? Kind of depends on what type of work you’re doing, but for me, they did the following:
- Folding and stuffing letters into envelopes
- Putting stamps on envelopes
- Sorting envelopes into groups of 20 and put rubber bands around them ready to take to the post office (I did a lot of mail-outs back in those days)
- Filing of paperwork
- Simple data entry into a spreadsheet or database
- Typing up their own resume under guidance, for future use, based on what they had been doing in the office
- Copy typing a document
- Answering the phone
- Photocopying documents
- Filling conference bags for an upcoming conference, and so on.
I’m sure you get the picture. There are lots of things that could be done by your children if you think about it long enough. Even if your work isn’t office-based but something else. However, it is important they get paid for their time – this is an ideal life lesson for them about the value of their time and being paid for that time. Just as you are paid for your time. Suggestions I make are:
- Set an hourly rate
- Give them money for pay each week, or
- Put money into their money box, or
- Put money into their bank account on a weekly basis and show them the growing balance, or
- Keep a spreadsheet tally and once it’s grown enough, purchase for them something online – something they want to spend their earnings on
Our children need to feel valued and having them help you in your work not only teaches them new skills, but also helps them to feel involved and a part of what you’re doing daily. Instead of it being so isolating for them, it’s more inclusive for you all. I’d love to hear what they’ve been doing for you at home while you work.
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.