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.
Every WAHM has a similar horror story: She's on an important call, her toddler wants to watch Elmo or is suddenly starving, and her boss is left listening to a whining child and Mom's apologies instead of her bright ideas. Their advice? Hit the mute button during conference calls to avoid any unexpected yells of "Mommmeee!"in the background. If your child is fussing while you're on the phone, end the call and reschedule if you can. That said, you can usually count on a more compassionate response from another parent. When she first went back to work, O'Donnell would hide that she worked from home from her clients. Now she's up-front with them, explaining that her kids might interrupt. She's found that, in general, people are understanding.
Whether you're an at-home parent homeschooling your child or you're simply there when she gets off the bus after school, more studies are finding a parent at home is giving children an academic edge over their peers without a parent at home. Regardless of whether you stay home or work, the National Education Association's research has proven that parent involvement in schools makes a difference in a child's academic performance and how long she actually stays in school.
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