Separate Mom and Business Roles
3. Set Boundaries
If you don't learn to keep your roles as mom and businesswoman separate, giving each your full concentration for a set amount of time, you'll never feel like you're doing either well. To separate mentally from the rest of the house, set up a private office area, recommends Lauren Kohl, an attorney and mom of two in Newton, Massachusetts. She works out of a converted closet, a kid-free zone that helps her to detach from the rest of her house. If she can't see the dirty rompers in the hamper, she's less inclined to leave her desk to launder them, she says. Plus, it helps you disengage from your job if you have a door to close. If you don't have an office, try making a list of everything you're going to do the next day, leave it in your work space, and walk away. "You're doing something to turn work off," says Durst.
Another tactic to adopt when you're in business mode? Dress the part. Aimee Samuelson, a Portland, Oregon, mom of two, who runs a marketing business out of a converted garage, dresses as if she's going into an office when she's on the job. She knows if she works in her pj's she won't concentrate as well and might get distracted by household tasks between conference calls. Not everyone needs a suit on to feel more professional -- sometimes taking a shower and putting on makeup and a clean outfit will do the trick.
4. Keep Kids Entertained
Renee Belbeck, a WAHM from Columbus, Ohio, and C.E.O. and founder of the National Association of W.O.M.E.N. (Women, Owners, Moms, Entrepreneurs, and Networkers), discovered a simple rule when her children were toddlers: "If I gave them a little quality time, I'd get two hours to work." She says the rule still holds true, even though her children are now 10 and 6.
Her other kid-centric tips: Set aside a few cool toys that your kids can play with, or arrange playdates or special movie viewings only during "Mommy's work time." If your children have something to look forward to, they'll be less likely to interrupt you. You can also try setting up an activity center in your home office so kids feel as if they have their own designated place to do projects while you catch up on e-mails. If their interest in that fails, create a "boredom bowl," suggests Durst.
If her kids ever felt like they had nothing to do, she'd tell them to choose a slip of paper from the dish. Some instructed them to build the tallest Lego tower, others told them to clean their room. When they got older, she'd include them in her work by asking them to put away files. "You need to have an open-door policy and involve them in any capacity they can handle," she says.