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Mompreneur Maven

Five Ways to Sneak In Work with Kids Underfoot

Activities that let mom work while caring for the kids
Mahoney State Park Indoor Kids Area
Published on March 14, 2010 : 1 comment

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Since this is my first article for, I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself (if you’d like to skip directly to the article, click here).

I’m Paula Dodds,’s new Mompreneur Maven. My husband, Skylar, and I (both born and raised in the Omaha metro) have teamed up for our business, P.S. Dodds. We have three daughters: Brady (10), Emma (7), and Stella (6 months).

I started working from home in 2000, a few months after Brady was born. After working for a few companies in Omaha doing simple data entry/word processing gigs and working with a few direct sales companies, I knew I wanted something a little more—a business of my own.

While online one day, I met my coach who, at the time, was just setting up her coaching program. I decided to go ahead and invest in her Failure is Not an Option program to become a Virtual Assistant. With our second daughter Emma still being “new,” I set up my home office, hung out my “virtual shingle” and dug in for the long haul. Through the years, I’ve had my office in different parts of the house—the rec room in the basement, its own tiny room, as part of our family room, and now in the front room of our house, taking up all of our “formal living room."

Since graduating from the program, I’ve had the opportunity to work with therapists, authors, coaches, executive recruiters, and more. I never know exactly what my Inbox will hold for me for that day’s work…I can find anything from ghostwriting to internet research to website changes—all while having our newest addition swinging next to me while I work!

Our Girls - Brady, Emma and StellaOur Girls - Brady, Emma and StellaAs our business has grown over the past couple of years, so has our family. We welcomed baby girl #3, Stella, into our family last August, and she’s loving being a part of Mom’s home office, too. In addition to the normal office furniture, my home office now has a baby swing and a play saucer for Stella to hang out in during the day.

Over the life of this column, I’ll be featuring other local Mompreneurs, answering your questions and hopefully sharing some of the knowledge I’ve gained along the way in this interesting and challenging lifestyle!

- Paula

Five Ways to Sneak In Work with Kids Underfoot

This year, it seems like we’ve had more than our fair share of “family time” together. Between the swine flu outbreak at our house, snow days, and breaks for holidays, we’ve spent A LOT of time together. And because of all the wonderful snow and cold temperatures we had, we couldn’t just throw the kids outside most days.

This is just a small list of ideas that we’ve been using to help keep our two older girls (7 and 10)—and sometimes even baby Stella—busy so we can get some work done.

Mall Playgrounds

Taking the kids to the mall playground gives me time to sneak in a little “work reading” (what my oldest daughter calls any of the marketing/business books that I read), answer some emails on my laptop, proofread and edit articles, and more! The older girls are entertained and get to run around with other kids in a somewhat-controlled environment, and the baby can hang out in the stroller watching all of the older kids’ chaos. Plus, these playgrounds are free—unless you’re like me and need to stop at those tempting coffee kiosks that are “conveniently” located right near the playgrounds.

Indoor playground at Mahoney State Park

Indoor Playground at Mahoney State ParkIndoor Playground at Mahoney State ParkI hate to let out this little secret because there’s already a pretty steady crowd out there, but there’s a HUGE indoor playground out at Mahoney State Park. Since we’re in Elkhorn, it’s only about twenty minutes or so from our door to the park, and our older girls can go crazy all afternoon. I take a blanket or the stroller for the baby to hang out, too. I can work on my laptop there or get in some reading or sketch out ideas for articles. The playground has so much for kids to do, and their snack bar is reasonably priced, too! We’ve spent many days out there with the snowstorms this year and can often turn it into an almost-all-day event—even spending a little more than normal and getting a Valentino’s pizza for us all to split.

Reading Hours, Crafts Classes, and Other Community Classes

Do you take advantage of the low-cost or no-cost classes offered at Omaha Public Libraries and Community Centers? These are great ways for kids to get out of the house, have supervised fun, and maybe even learn something. My older girls have taken crafts classes and done book/reading groups at the library—and we’ll be back again this summer. We’ve also signed up at the YMCA closest to our house for swim lessons and some fitness classes.

Use a Mommy Co-op

Do you know other work-at-home moms who would be more than happy to “trade off” on baby-sitting services? Giving up one workday each week to baby-sit a few extra kids pays off big-time when you can ship yours off for the other four days!

If you don’t know of any other WAHMs in your area (that’s Work at Home Moms), set up your own co-op by speaking at your schools’ PTO night, your church, or any other local groups where you regularly attend meetings. It only takes a few families to make a co-op work!

For Toddlers/Preschoolers – Set-Up Their Own Home Office

When our daughter Emma was a toddler and Brady was in kindergarten, my business really started to take off. Since I was spending much more time in my office, Emma was right there with me. I set up her own little desk with the same types of things you would find on a “grown-up’s” desk—just “kid-ified.”

To set up your own play desk, go to the dollar store and look for:

  • A plastic pencil cup for her crayons and washable markers
  • A plastic tray for all of her “important papers”
  • A few inexpensive file folders and some stickers for her to decorate her files
  • A small plastic caddy with age-appropriate plastic clips or something similar to binder clips/paper clips to help keep her organized
  • And maybe even a binder or two (if you’re a binder mom, you may have a little binder kid, too!).

While some of these ideas may not work for you and your family, it should get you thinking of some different ideas of what you can do to slip a little work in while still taking care of the little ones—whether it’s setting up a daily routine or just needing to re-vamp the emergency plan for snow days and sick days.

Have a different idea that you’d love to share with other Omaha WAHMs? Tell us what you do with your children below!

Paula Dodds is Co-Owner/Principal of P.S. Dodds.


AnnDbugz says:

March 22, 2010 : 14 years 12 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

Hi! Wonderful article ;-) I must confess I am a WAHM. The best part is when they are sick - I can be home with them and still get some work done.

Congrats on your new column!

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