What do you do when your kid becomes a ham?

Part of me wants to just laugh…

My daughter just turned seven last month, and she is starting to become a bit of a ham. She’s never been very shy like me, but she has shy days—and though she’s generally outgoing and will wave at or approach anyone, she’s not been one to interrupt all of the time, “steal the show” from a teacher, or need the attention on her much—until now.

Yesterday during parent and child singing class, she couldn’t stop talking, telling jokes, or trying to get her teacher’s attention. It’s the same in her weekly music class; though we aren’t in the room, I can hear her teacher regularly reminding her to stay on task rather than change the subject and want to chat. I think it’s great, on one hand, that she wants to have conversations with all of these people—and I want to laugh when she’s hamming it up, telling jokes, asking why Captain Nemo’s ship is called “The Naughty List”…

But then again, I think this could be a response to me spending less time with her. I’m writing for two companies plus publishing fiction with a company now, which takes a lot of time to self-promote on blogs and social networks.

I’m doing interviews in the time that we normally just play together, and I find myself asking for a few more minutes constantly before she gets my attention. Perhaps this hamming is simply a cry for attention since she’s not receiving nearly as much as she is used to—and a gentle reminder to me that I need to manage my time a bit more wisely.

So parents out there who have “hams” for kids who do need more attention, how do you give it without sacrificing sleep? I did that for several years, was hospitalized, nearly died, and am just not willing to put my body through it all again.

I believe in giving kids what they need, but I am also thinking she is in need of a sibling—something her father and I cannot give her anymore due to the early preeclampsia I contracted during my pregnancy with her. Adoption or foster care is an option that we have thought about for years, but we still aren’t sure about it yet—are you ever really sure? If so, we may never be ready; if not, perhaps we already are.

I would love to hear from parents who have kids who need attention and how you manage to balance work and parenting, especially if you also work at home or homeschool like we do.

The thanks you get

Maybe I really should just start charging for random things…

My best friend is always getting on to me about charging for my “services,” whatever they may be—tutoring, proofreading, beta-testing, researching and generally helping people out. I find jobs for people, edit resumes, and do tons of things that I don’t get paid for.

I’m OK doing this for friends—though sometimes it does get tiresome, especially when it cuts into my own work or family time—but lately it seems like everyone wants a piece of me. Some even want my husband to fix things for them for free, as well. I suppose you can never pass up free, but it also sometimes feels like we are being taken advantage of.

Tonight we had to make a difficult decision that we keep changing our minds about. We adopted little Luna, the runt of her litter, only because she was going to be going to the Humane Society; we had intended to only adopt her brother, Noke. After eight months of loving this little thing—she’s so tiny, still!—it has become apparent that not only do we have too many cats (five!), but that it’s also just not a safe environment for Luna. The others bully her, hissing and fighting; it’s gotten so bad to where she has bite marks and scabs all over her neck! The vet agrees that we just have too many cats fighting over territory and humans and we need to find her a safe space. So for now, we are having to keep her separate from her brothers and sister.

I explained this—albeit a bit more briefly—on Facebook this evening, hoping some friends might offer help or at least pass on the message. A couple of them did, which I am very grateful for; this is a sweet kitten who needs a home. That said, some friends “left” the conversation—without even replying—and a couple of these people were friends we’ve just done big favors for, favors that not only took time (one an entire evening we had together), but also time afterwards in cleaning, buying replacement materials, and other tasks that were out of both time and pocket for us. We do this, and you can’t even say, “Thanks but no thanks,” or, “Sure, I’ll pass on the message?”

I think the time for freebie help for friends who only want to talk when they need help is over in this house.

Limit Your Work Hours

It's the key to maintaining your sanity
If you want to survive as a freelancer working from home, my #1 suggestion to everyone I talk to is that you should limit your work hours. Decide what hours you are going to work, and work only during those hours. It sounds a lot easier than it is!
When you don't have bosses or coworkers hanging around watching you, it's easy to spend half the day watching videos on YouTube, or just mindlessly surfing the web and hanging around in forums. You look up at the clock and realize it's almost noon and you've accomplished nothing. Gonna have to work until 7 or 8PM to make up for it!

This starts a long slide down the slippery slope that erodes the barriers between your "work life" and "home life." It's not until you have left office culture that you realize how useful it is to A) have clearly-defined working times, and B) have a whole entire separate location where work gets done. 
When you set yourself a hard and fast deadline for ending the work day, it forces you to tighten up your work practices earlier in the day. You can look ahead and tell that "If I want to get that project done by 6PM, I had better start working on it now!"
Having a distinct end time also helps solve the "blahs." We have all had days in the office where we were just running out the clock until we could go home. That doesn't happen when you are your own boss - if you aren't working, you're not getting paid! But strangely, being able to look forward to a specific time that signals the end of the day can give you hope. Like a cart horse with the barn in sight, you may find yourself picking up the pace as the pre-determined end of the day approaches.
Most of all, be sure to set yourself a sane work schedule. It's easy to get over-committed as a freelancer. And it's a good problem to have! But study after study has shown that the less time you spend working, the more work you get done. You do more in a 40-hour work week than you do in a 50 or 60-hour work week, counter-intuitive though that might seem.
No matter what, be sure to draw your boundaries between "work" and "home," and defend them with your life. It may be hard to resist the urge to put in a little extra time on a Saturday afternoon, but you'll be doing yourself a favor if you use that time to relax instead.

3 Steps to Maximize Your Success

If you are determined to be successful at working from home, there are some steps you are going to have to follow. All of the steps can be modified to fit your personal needs, but omitting one all together will make your earning potential shrink. The following steps should be followed, either before or right after, starting your work from home career.
  1. Dedicate a Space: The most important factor to your success is dedicating a workspace.  It will make that part of your home feel more like an actual brick and mortar job. Limit distractions in that area to help you focus on the task at hand.


  1. Follow a Schedule: One of the benefits of working from home is that you can usually set your own schedule. The best way to maximize your earnings is to set a schedule and stick to it. Even if your schedule changes every week, it will still help you focus on your work and limit daydreaming.


  1. Let Others Know you are working: A lot of people think that since someone is working from home they can drop everything at a moment’s notice. Make sure that you turn off your cell phone, stay off Facebook, and limit contact with the family while you are working. Let them know that it is an actual job and you need to actually be working in order to make money.


By following these three steps you will be able to focus better on your work and earn more money. Make sure that everyone knows you working schedule and understands that they need to limit contact during work hours. By having a home office you will feel more like you are at work, and less like you are twiddling your thumbs in your pajamas.

Where to Start Your Work at Home Adventure

Top three companies for newbies

The first thing that most people ask when starting their work from career is how to start. There are some companies that will hire complete newbies, and some that require you to have experience. One thing to consider is whether or not you want to work as an hourly worker or work on a pay per project basis. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. The following three companies are a good place to start if you want to work from home.
  1. Leapforce

Leapforce is a company that pays per hour, but you are not an employee. This means that you do not get any employee benefits and you have to pay self-employment taxes on all of your earnings. There is a very extensive test that you must pass in order to begin working. They do not hire every applicant, so take time to develop your resume. I currently work for this company and I can say that it has been a pleasant experience. I enjoy the work and love the fact that I can keep track of earnings with their invoice system. One great feature of this company is that it is one of the only hourly-paying companies where the work is completed entirely online. There is no problem with loud children or pets in the background.


  1. Textbroker

If you can write in good English and you have good grammar skills, textbroker is a good starter company to work for. They pay per article written. Compensation is dependent on your level, ranked from one to five. This is the first company that I wrote for, and overall they are a good place to work. They pay weekly and pay on time. The one drawback is that if you are ranked lower than a 4 there is very little work.


  1. Fiverr

Fiverr is a good starter site for anyone looking to make money at home. You can offer any service for $5, but keep in mind that you only get $4 of that. I have had great success with this site. In fact, this week alone I have made $72 dollars so far. The key is offering a unique gig and getting good ratings. Also, if you know that a certain offer is not going to be worth your time don’t do it.

Once you have established yourself in your particular field, you can branch out and start earning more money. These sites are great for those that need to make money fast and don’t mind doing real work.


My Favorite Tools

After spending so much time working at home, I have come to find that there are certain tools that I find to be absolutely priceless.

The first that I have used in nearly all of my business adventures is Google Voice. I love that I can have a number that I can makes calls from and receive calls on that has nothing to do with my personal phone number. I have used this when I ran my own daycare, for my virtual assistant services, and when answering calls for my clients. One of my favorite things about Google Voice is that it is absolutely free. Additionally, if you have an Android or iPhone, you can use a program such as GrooveIP to sync your Google number to your actual phone.

The next item that I find absolutely needed when working from home is Dropbox. With this program clients and I can easily share files. Additionally, we keep copies of contract templates and other templates in Dropbox so they are easy to print off at a moment’s notice. Another thing that I love about this program is that I can access it anywhere that has an internet connection through the Dropbox website.

The last item that I can’t live without for working at home is the program TimeStamp. With this, I can easily keep track of the time I spend working and can add little notes to it as well. Although it may not be the flashiest program in the world, it is simple to use and easy to navigate. Additionally, you can print off the time log and it can calculate how much the invoice will be. 

Creating A Work At Home Environment

When it comes to working at home, many people have found that they are more productive when the environment they are in is suited to working at home. This doesn't just include having a dedicated space to work, but it also includes the overall environment.

As mentioned, one part of creating a work at home environment is making sure that you have a space dedicated to working at home. You will find that you are much more productive when you are working at a desk, than you would be when you are working it a more relaxed area like the coffee table.

Another part of creating a work at home environment is having the proper support from your family to work at home. While I have been blessed with a family that understands what I do on the computer is actually work, I have heard from many others that their family doesn't consider what they do to be actual work. They are just 'playing' on the computer. This in turn can lead to a negative at home environment that causes you to be less productive and unhappy.  

One last way to create a positive work environment is to keep your home a calm and organized area. I have found that I feel my best when working when the room around me is organized. Being at home, it is often possible to let the laundry pile up or the dishes sit a bit too long in the sink. When it gets like that, it nags in the back of my head making me feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. By making sure the house is organized each night, I can allow myself to relax a bit and not get overwhelmed.

The Benefits of Community

One of the biggest resources I have found through working at home is that it helps to connect with others who are in the same situation as you. The main way that I do this is through different forums that are directed at working at home and mothers who work at home.

With these websites, you can get in touch with others who know the trials that working at home can bring. Because, let’s face it, those who don’t work at home often don’t know just how hard it can be. They often think that because you are home you have the free time to do anything they want, and even after you have been working all day (with many interruptions by them) you still have more work to do. Some other people get the idea that all you do at home is play on the computer all day. By finding a forum or other place to connect with other people who work at home, you can find a place to vent about those that make working at home difficult. Having a place you can turn to, where people understand also helps to relieve the isolation that can often be felt from being home day after day.

Additionally, with these websites, you can also increase your awareness of available jobs out there. This is one of the main things that I love about work at home communities. They are all so helpful and sharing. If there is a great job opportunity they want others to know about it.

Keeping Kids out of Work

With the chaos that comes with working at home around little kids and babies, it is often important to make sure that everything stays organized. It would never do to have an important paper you printed off, or anything else fall into the hands of a kid that could destroy it in seconds. Especially if you have the breed of child that likes to tear paper.

In order to combat this, it is very helpful to have a dedicated space for working such as a table or desk. It is even better if this space can have its own room or office. By having a designated area, you can help to create a boundary for children to know that they need to stay away from those items.

Another thing that is useful for keeping children away from work items it to store what you need out of reach of the kids. This can be done with wall shelving, book shelves, or cabinets that can lock.

In addition to keeping kids out of your actual work area, many also find it to be difficult to keep kids out of your hair when you are actually working. I have found a few different ways to distract the kids when I really need to get something done right away. The first is to give them something to work on. This can be drawing a picture, reading a book, or writing a letter to gramma. I save movies and TV for the times when I have to be on the phone. This works great if you have a room with a TV just off of your working area. They can watch TV with volume, but it is still quiet enough so no one will know there are kids around.

Contact and Task Management Systems

Your Virtual Filing Cabinet

Depending on the type of work that is performed at home, you may find that it is important to keep track of all the different clients. This is especially true if you offer writing or assistant services. In order to keep track of the work you do for different clients and the details for each job, it may be useful to use a contact management system.

With these types of systems, you can easily keep all your work details in one convenient space. Additionally, if you work closely with others it can be an easy way to share important information. These types of programs can either be a free program or a paid-for program. Depending on the type of program that is being used, you can also keep track of the income you have received from each client and whether or not all your invoices have been paid.

Using this type of system can be a great tool to get an overall l picture of your interactions with particular clients. Additionally, depending on the system you use, it can also be a way to plan out your schedule for things and set up reminders to achieve things. For example, you can list out the different steps of a project in a to-do list to help ensure that you don’t accidentally overlook an important step. Additionally, you can plan out long projects on the management system calendar.

One last thing that makes contact management systems a valuable tool for working at home is that you can upload files to many of these systems. Saving you room on your computer while still keeping them accessible should you need to use them or refer to them in the future.