5 Tips to Make Working from Home Easier for You and Your Family
We started our company, Parenting Power over 16 years ago, so that we could be mom’s first and business people second. Each of us works out of our respective homes. Our kids are teenagers now, but when we first started, we had toddlers and we figured out what really worked for us. We hope that these tools work for you too!
1. Define your workspace. You need to know it and your kids do too.
Ideally, your space has a door which can be closed while you are working. If that can’t happen, create some defining features of your space so that your kids (even your little ones) can easily understand when you are working and when you are not. Using painter’s tape on the floor might be a way to do this. Sending a clear message to your kids about when you are available to them and when you are not will make it easier for everyone to know what is expected.
2. Decide when you will work and when you won’t. This includes answering/checking your phone.
When there are young kids at home, many parents decide to work only while the kids are napping, at preschool or asleep. As kids get a bit older, it is helpful to be clear about your hours. Will you work, whenever someone needs you or will you set specific times based on when your kids need/want you? Once you are clear with this, you can make everyone aware and build a routine so that your kids know when to hang out and when they need to leave you alone.
3. Set an automatic reply on your phone/email
Once you know your hours, it can feel better to make this clear to your customers. Programming a reply on your email and leaving a voicemail on your phone will help your customers to know when they can expect to hear from you and you won’t be worried about keeping them waiting.
4. Create respectful language
When we aren’t quite sure what to say, we often end up saying things we may regret. That’s why planning some language can be so helpful. What will you say when your kids decide to hang out with you while you are in the middle of something? “I’m working for the next 15 minutes. When the timer goes, we’ll be able to play together. Where do you need to be right now?”
Language for your customers can also be helpful: “I’m not able to give you my full attention right now. May I call you at 8pm and then we can be sure to get this all figured out?”
5. Set everyone up for success by attending to behaviour you want to see instead of to misbehaviour.
Most kids know that the easiest way to get a parent’s attention is to misbehave. However, we can beat them at this game. Know what you expect and set them up for success. If you need to work for the next 10 minutes, can they ‘work’ beside you? Can one of them build a building while the other one colours? Let them know that you’ll set the timer for 10 minutes so that everyone can work together and then, it will be time for the family to play hide and seek. Attending to their proper behaviour, “I see everyone working well, only 5 more minutes to go,” means that they won’t have to misbehave to get your attention.