1. While the kids are in school, begin your work as soon as everyone is out of the house. You might try to find a sitter for less money than you are currently paying to come to your house during the day to watch children not yet in school. College students are usually willing to do this at least 3 to 4 times a week as well as some retired people. Check their backgrounds carefully and call references.
2. Post "Help Wanted" cards at Churches, Christian Colleges and at the YMCA or YWCA. For the college students, specifically ask for the early childhood developmental Majors. These will be the students who will have the most knowledge of your younger children and will be learning new material all the time.
3. Don't answer the phone, let it take a message. Even if you have caller ID. Have a specific time you check them. Unless it is an emergency, return only those pertaining to your work. You might want to get an answering machine where you can screen the caller by listening to the beginning of the message to hear who it is, and then decide to pick up.
4. When the kids come home, you must stop working. It is almost impossible to continue to work when the children are first getting home. They usually want to see you and let off some steam. Some days it will be good steam - and some days it will be bad. Don't worry about it. Once you begin to work at home, it will take adjustment periods on everyone's part (including yours).
5. Change is hard on almost everyone. Many times you will feel lost. Don't let anyone kid you. Don't look at the time spent calming your home -- and kids -- as "missed work!" It will drive you nuts! This time is just as an important a step to your success as anything else, and time spent very wisely.
6. As you become more comfortable in what you are doing, so will the children. If your mind is wandering, they will do anything (and sometimes everything) to get your attention. With your newfound confidence, and more time spent with them, they will soon grow to learn they don't have to have your attention every second. Try to focus as much as possible on your career while they are not home. After everyone is asleep, you might be able to do a little work on the computer -- or paper work.
7. Get organized, let the kids help. Don't be afraid to delegate. Just because you're home doesn't mean others can't help. Don't let them make you feel guilty. We recently moved and my office looks like a tornado hit it! It's driving me bananas! I told my family, "Look, this is my space so please stay out. If you come in, you must have at least one suggestion on how I can get it organized." It's worked pretty well.
8. Even the youngest talker might be able to make a small facelift to your office. Believe it or not, they all will eventually have some good tips. For example - make them feel important and successful: "Do you think it would be a good idea for me to put all my pencils and pens in a cup? This may help me to keep up with them better. How about you choosing one for me?" Go with a child to the kitchen and let him select one, or set out two or three for him to make his choice from. Tell him he made a good selection (don't be afraid to use big words) -- and that it was a great one at that! Just make sure they come in "alone" and have your entire attention during the suggestion period.
9. Take mini breaks and stretch your spine, touch your toes and reach up to the sky (or ceiling).
10. Try to eat properly, exercise and get plenty of sleep. If you can stick to your guns on nutritional food, exercising (if even for a 15 minute walk 5 days a week), and plenty of sleep -- your on your way to success!
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