Of Kids and Working Spaces

This morning, as I was tearing out the door for an early-morning meeting, I discovered I was out of to-go coffee cups. So I had to leave the house with my steaming-hot coffee with one Splenda and a shot of hazelnut fat-free creamer in a sippy cup. Yes, we’ve reached new depths around here.

My plastic, heart-covered coffee cup got me thinking about mixing kids with your office space, and work in general. It’s funny, some folks (usually the ones with young kids or grandkids themselves) will talk about kids all day long, and some bristle at the fact that you are even at child-bearing age.

Here’s my philosophy: if you work from home mainly to be more available to your school-aged children, you really have to take extra steps to maintain an extremely professional fa├žade (depending, of course, on the line of work you are in. I follow a blog of a lady I went to college with http://www.annamariahorner.com/ and part of her charm is the fact that she produces an absolutely beautiful product while managing a household with five kids).

This means you need to lose the giant photo holder from your key chain with pictures of your darling children, don’t let little Johnny pick up the phone at home, and don’t regale clients of how you are late because Suzy Q forgot to brush her teeth this morning so she missed the bus.

Lest you think I’m too harsh, let me share this story that perfectly makes my point. A few years ago, I had a client who was around my age, no kids, not married. Gorgeous gal, blazing her way up the ladder in the corporate world. She was always kind enough to inquire about my kids and how they were, and I always gave the perfunctory “They are amazing, thanks for asking!” Then we moved on to business talk. Don’t get me wrong – we had a great relationship. She’d share the latest about her new boyfriend, her crazy brother, her wonderful godchildren. So one day when we were on the phone (not a scheduled call, just a quick question kind of call), and I had given her three times the heads up that I needed to go – she was clearly not getting the hint – I said, “Hey – I’ve really gotta run, my kids are going to be at the bus stop wondering where I am!” She was great when we got off the phone – or so I thought. I got a call from my boss the next day, who prefaced the call with “this is ridiculous, however, clearly this woman is uncomfortable on some level that you work from home and have responsibilities to your children.”

This case is extreme, but since then, I’ve been clear with clients on two things: I’m all yours from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., but after that there’s a good shot that little ones are going to part of the picture.

And while I’m working I stay 100 percent focused on building their business. Even if I am drinking my coffee from a sippy cup.

Have a great weekend! AMD

"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."Abraham Lincoln

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