When starting a home business, you will find it a challenge to separate your business from domestic responsibilities, particularly if you have children. Children will need your attention, talk and play with you, and want to be near you – even if you are working in your home office. Instead of shutting them out completely during your work hours, you can implement ways to childproof and safeguard your office.
Peter Hingston and Alastair Balfour in their book “Working from Home” offer eight tips on how to childproof your home office and make it child-friendly:
1. Make your office close to where your children play so that you are always on hand if there is a crisis
If you have a babysitter or a caregiver, ensure that they are kept busy in some form of play or activity. You may want to create a small area for them with tables and chairs (sort of their own office) where they can color, finger-paint, or play with building blocks while you’re working.
2. Keep everything portable up on shelves away from small hands
Office supplies particularly sharp and pointed objects like scissors, staplers or stapler remover should be placed out of our reach of your child. Make sure that supplies like correction fluid (white-out) and glue, which are flammable and contains ingredients that may be harmful when inhaled, should either have safety caps or be kept in locked drawers. Clearly label what kids can and cannot touch in your office.
3. Keep babies out of harm’s way in a playpen while you are working
If your home office has space, you can work while keeping watch of your baby in a playpen. You can set-up your superyard or playden with lots of toys to keep the baby safe, entertained and happy. If you do not have space, you can set up their play area in a different room in the house, but you may want to use monitors to listen to your baby.
4. Attach locks to drawers and cupboards; simple magnetic ones will do
Tell your child that your office drawers are off-limits to them. For safety and security, install baby-proof locks to your drawers and cupboards. However, you may want to consider giving them at least 1 drawer for their use if they will be staying with you in the office while you work.
You may also want to use power strip protectors so your baby cannot pull the plug out of the socket easily.
5. Tape up, or otherwise, protect your portable drives and backup CD-Roms on your computer
You may also have other expensive equipment in your home office that you need to protect, such as scanners, fax machines, shredders, digital cameras and printers. Your equipment, both electronic and of other kinds, are easy to break, very expensive to replace, but most of all, can pose as hazards to your young children. Make sure that these equipment are out of reach of your children. It is also important to ensure that cords dangling from all that expensive equipment are carefully taped so children cannot pull on them. There are plastic clips or ties that you can buy from office supply stores to keep your wiring neat and secure.
6. Install software that prevents access to your work documents
You may also want to put your computer in a higher area, as well as the phones. Children’s natural curiosity will make them push buttons on your phone or fax machine, pound on your keyboards or accidentally restart your computer.
7. Make your mouse and screen accessible only by password
You may want to make sure that your documents are well protected. Young children love to be involved in grown-ups’ activity that you may not be able to prevent them from typing gobbledygook or (horror!) delete your important files. You can give them an old keyword that they can play with and pretend that they are helping their mommy or daddy. If you do not have an extra keyboard, you can let your children use your computer as a reward for their good behavior at the end of the workday (with your supervision of course).
8. Keep fixed hours so that children know when you are not to be disturbed
But nonetheless, be sure to take a break to spend quality time with your children. It is beneficial to both you and your children to establish clear boundaries between “work” and “family” time. You can cuddle or play with them, or ask them to join you as you prepare lunch. Your answering machine or voicemail can receive any calls from clients or business associates.
If you childproof your office, it’s less likely that you’ll constantly be saying “No” or “Don’t Touch”. You will be able to enjoy your new career, and live your dreams of running your own business while watching your children grow.
Recommended Books on How to Childproof Your Home Office:
- The Smarter Home Office: 8 simple steps to increase your income, inspiration and comfort
- The Consumer Reports Guide to Childproofing & Safety: Tips to Protect your Baby and Child from Injury at Home and on the Go
- How To Childproof Your Home – The Definitive Guide To Making Your Home Safe And Secure For Little Ones
- Baby Proofing Basics 2 Ed: How To Keep Your Child Safe
- 5 Ways to Make Your Home Office Child Friendly
- How Work at Home Moms Can Work – and Take Care of Kids
- How Do You Separate the Home from the Office?
- 20 Tips for Balancing Family and Working at Home
- The Leadership Challenge of Four Generations in the Workplace