Let's Ask Barney Where the Stapler Went

It's every work-at-home mom's nightmare. Your key client calls. Meanwhile you're pre-schooler is standing three feet from your desk bellowing a noise that could break the sound barrier.

It's happened to the best of them. No doubt, working at home with children - especially very young children - requires lots of patience, flexibility, and learning to think a bit like Barney.

Tina Champagne-Egge, founder of the Association of Enterprising Mothers in Carlsbad, Calif., for example, hides her children's old toys around the house, which buys her an hour or two.

When Lisa Roberts - with four children, including one age 2 and another age 4 - did radio interviews at home to promote her book, TV became her baby sitter. "On the days when I had interviews," she explains, "I wouldn't let them watch any TV until 15 minutes before the interview. Then I'd pop in a videotape."

Some moms say turning their toddlers into little helpers works wonders. Ms. Roberts lets her kids stamp envelopes or staple papers. She also encourages them to make drawings to decorate her office. "Once they are involved," she says, "they are cooperating and not competing for your attention."

Top Ranked At-Home Businesses for People with Children

1. Bill-auditing service

2. Bookkeeper

3. Computer programmer

4. Copywriter

5. Desktop publisher

6. Editorial services

7. Child-care provider

8. Gift basket business

9. Specialty-foods grower

10. Information broker

11. Mailing list service

12. Mail-order business

13. Newsletter publisher

14. Public-relations specialist

15. Resume-writing service

16. Scopist (legal transcriber)

17. Tax preparer

18. Word-processing/office-support service

19. Mystery shopper

20. Proposal and grant writer

Source: Association of Enterprising Mothers

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