The Family Business
By Chris, Marissa and Alexandra Arnold
As printed in definingWomen Magazine Sept/Oct 2013 issue
Many women struggle to balance the need to work, either for financial reasons or for personal fulfillment, with a desire to spend as much time with their children as possible. This struggle has lead many mothers to find ways to work from home. One path that mothers often take is through starting a home based business. Mothers who have a home based business have a unique opportunity to create a family business that their children can be involved in from an early age, which can teach them valuable skills that will serve them well into adulthood.
When you are working at home and have preschool aged children they tend to be playtime adjacent. The children are nearby doing their own independent activity while Mom is working her business. During these times the children start to pick up on Mom's professional skills such as phone presence and focusing on a task.
As they get older they can be more involved in the business itself. Elementary age children can help prepare marketing materials like brochures and sample packets for distribution or sort products. They begin to get an idea of when multi-tasking is a good way to get things done and what types of tasks require more focused attention, which is an important time management skill.
Pre-teens and teenagers can help with administrative tasks like entering orders and accounting. Assisting with administrative work exposes the child to important business and computer skills, which they can then use to earn some extra money helping other small business owners and of course take those skills with them into the job market.
Once children are old enough to work independently you can begin to let them know what needs to be done, but give only general guidelines on how to do it. This allows them to build their creative and problem solving skills and gives them some freedom to find the work style that fits them best. You can even let them have a hand at the types of projects that come up a lot in home businesses, where you need to create something that doesn't yet exist, or tweak something that isn't exactly the way you want it.
Watching Mom interact with customers and business associates shows the child how to communicate with other people effectively as well as how to interact with people who come from different backgrounds. Participating in business activities helps the child see how to choose the appropriate behavior for different situations.
Lastly, when we work away from home we often leave a lot of our work life at the office, but when home and work are the same your children get to see more of the ups and downs of your job and how you deal with it. It's important for children to know that no job is perfect, but how you deal with the speed bumps in business make a big difference.
Along with all of the valuable lessons your children learn from participating in a home based business, they also benefit from having Mom available when they need her, while still getting some of the independence of children whose parents work away from home. As with all choices we make for attaining work/family balance, a home based business it may not be perfect, however it can be a great way to set your children up to be successful adults.