Success — One Diaper at a Time.

When I started my business, I had warm, cozy feelings about working at home. In my mind, I saw myself working more in a mobile office really (from my minivan). Exciting thoughts. It all seemed organized and linear while projecting out from the dream world.

Add three toddlers to that dream. The twins, who just turned three, and one trailing at two. Thus, the minivan.

My wife, understanding saint that she is, freaked a little when I decided to start something from scratch. But, still we saw this as an opportunity for the both of us. She had been staying at home with the children since they were born. She hadn’t gotten much help since we are a good distance away from families. I ached sometimes going to work and knowing how difficult it was for her to do it all alone during the day. This new adventure was giving her a chance to get out of the house and work again. We both knew it would be a while before I brought much in.

I had been feeling restless in my cubicle for a while. By the time I left, I had checked out. I never wanted to work isolated like that. Plus, I wanted the freedom to see the outdoors, take a break whenever I needed it, and see my family. Coming home and starting my little project was my chance to get to know my children. To walk in my wife’s shoes and emphatize with her.

I literally laugh now at how naive I was about working at home. Or, driving around from place to place for clients with kids music playing in the background. Or, typing away at my laptop from the dining room table while the kids watch Elmo. Or, pulling over at key locations to change diapers.

At times, I have truly felt that no one on this Earth has started a business the way that I did. No, I was in the one percentile of idiots that had no idea. Who did I know that was stopping at the park and checking their email while pushing their toddlers on the baby swings? I didn’t know anyone who was literally spending all their drive time with their children.

This has forced me to look at business in a unique way. Here are some things I’ve learned:

1. I’ve been forced to implement creative ways to balance my work life and my play life.

When I was working for another employer, away from home, I had tunnel vision. There were times I could go whole days without calling and checking in on my wife. We had promised each other we would never get there. When I got home from work, I had become stuck in work mode and wasn’t very fun to be with. Plus, the kids were already dressed for bed when I showed up. Working from home, with three toddlers, has taught me to take time away. It’s been a hard lesson in that I am a very focused person and I want to finish something after I start. My children, however, need my attention. Rather than let them beg for it, I indulge them. I find if I do that rather than shoving them aside and pushing through, I have been refreshed. Their love tank has been temporarily filled and I have had a meaningful encounter with them. A relationship building encounter.

2. I’ve learned how to let my children help.

At an office away from home, I didn’t have “distractions” pulling me away from a project. Other than meetings, which I admittedly hate. But working from home is interesting because you have to juggle. I have found one way to get my children involved and make them feel like I am interacting with them is to find ways they can help. I even had them help organize my expense receipts for the last quarter. No kidding! “This receipt goes over here. Good job!” If I’m with the on the road, I find ways they can help me there. I can see it building little workers out of them. They LOVE to help. 

3. I’ve learned to be strategic with work time. 

Starting a business is not for the faint-hearted my friend. Most people I’ve done business with go to bed at odd hours of the morning and wake up at even odder hours. Now I know why. You just have to find time to work when you work from home. The glorious hours of non-interruption are those when everyone but you is asleep. That is when you can tap away at your keyboard without guilt. You can invoice. You can answer emails. You can do your spreadsheets.

4. I’ve learned to take my time.

By nature, I am the type that responds out of impulse. A customer needs something, I’m out the door. I schedule everything for TODAY because I want to take care of people. With children in tow, you just can’t do that sort of stuff. Not if you want to be attentive to their needs (and they come first). I have to schedule things together for the next day at times so that I can be the most effective for my customers and be the most caring for the kids. No great business became great overnight. I know that Integrity my company will not become great overnight.

If you have experienced something similar to what I’ve described with my start up, God bless you. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t seem to get work done because of your children. Learn creative ways to leverage your time with your children. After all, we don’t have them forever.


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