Meetings and Homeschooling: Options.

After publishing the post on working while homeschooling, I received several questions about meetings. How do I handle them while homeschooling a boy who is too young to stay home by himself?

The answer? It depends.

Most of the time, I schedule meetings around the days my son has an activity outside the house. We are very fortunate to have a local art and yoga studio between our apartment and the downtown area that offers homeschool classes, workshops, and camps. Most classes last about an hour and a half, so I can squeeze in a meeting while my son is doing something fun.

Other times, I have meetings over the phone. This isn’t my favorite way to do things; my iPhone has a tendency to lag, and  I sometimes end up interrupting the other person without meaning to. But it’s an easy way to conduct business because I don’t have to leave the house.

When it comes to meetings I know will most likely last a while, especially job interviews, I use days when my son is staying overnight at his grandparents’ house. I like this option because it gives me time alone to prepare.

My final option is one I only use when meeting friends who just happen to be business associates: I take my son with me. I realize this won’t work for everyone, especially those with small children. But my son is older now, and while he may be 2E, he’s shy and introverted around strangers, not to mention a bookworm. When I take him somewhere new, he prefers to fade into the background and read. That works well for meetings, because he is able to keep himself occupied, and I am able to focus on business.

A few things about this option:

  1. I only go this route if the person needs to meet today. In other words, the problem is important enough for both the client and me to bend over backwards in the accommodation department.
  2. I always, always ask the person beforehand if it’s okay to bring my son along, leaving the decision up to them. I explain that I am able to meet, but that I will need to bring my son with me. I then explain that he tends toward the quiet side and will be reading while we meet. That way, they know what to expect (i.e., no bouncing off the walls). If they accept, we set a time. If not, we schedule a phone conversation. Either way, no big deal and no hard feelings. And for the record, I’ve found that almost no one likes to do a Q&A over email anymore.
  3. If the client either doesn’t think bringing my son is a good idea, or their problem can wait a few days, then we schedule the meeting for a time I’m kid-less.
  4. I pack my son a backpack with non-messy snacks, an art pad with colored pencils, a book he hasn’t read (which means more to him than a new toy!), and a spill-proof bottle of water (bathroom break before the meeting starts).
  5. I don’t meet for more than 45 minutes, and I keep my son in the room with me at all times.

(One caveat: If I know the meeting has even the slightest possibility of becoming volatile, I do not take my son. That should be obvious, but it still needs to be said.)

Surprisingly, everyone I’ve worked with—those I know and those I don’t—has been not only understanding but welcoming. They know I work from home. They know why. And they’re willing to make reasonable accommodations.

In return, I make sure to go out of my way to help them, as well.

Reciprocity builds strong relationships.