Working from home requires a good amount of will power, even if you don’t have a family. It’s definitely not for everyone. Getting up and making yourself go to ‘work’ when work is just a different room in your home is quite tough and staying focused once you’re there is even harder! Imagine then adding your young family to the mix, who you want to spend all your time with and who equally don’t understand why mummy or daddy is sitting on their own and not spending time with them. Heartache city!
Having worked like this for a number of years, I have a few tips to make home working with a young family a bit more manageable.
Set the boundaries
Be clear with yourself, your children and your partner/child care provider when you will and won’t be at work and what the rules are when you are. Set working hours are the best way to achieve this, and give yourself a designated lunch break.
When you’re at work, no disruptions. If you weren’t working from home, you wouldn’t be able to quickly watch the children or help put one of them on the naughty step, so don’t let those things interrupt you in your home office. If you have to take a work video call then make sure everyone is preoccupied and they do not disturb you during this time, you can also use a screen recorder to have a copy of calls, online presentations, etc. so you can refer back to them if an interruption does come up that has to be dealt with. You can discover this software on websites such as loom.com to see how to get it installed.
If your office doubles up as another room, like the dining room, make sure that everyone knows that during work hours it isn’t to be used for its other purpose. Nothing is more distracting than everyone sitting down for a family lunch whilst you’re trying to make an important call. If you’re short on space and your office is also a room that is in constant use by other members of the family, say the kitchen or living room, consider sectioning off your work area with a space division. This will make it clear to your family that your part of the room is currently off-limits. Then, at the end of the day, you can conveniently move the space divide against the wall and open up the room again, signalling that it’s open for everyone.
Remind yourself why you’re doing it
Most of us go to work to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle out of work, many work because they enjoy their job. Home workers tend to do so to keep down overheads and to be able to spend more time with their families.
Flexible hours is one of the main benefits of home working. If you’re working at home so you can spend more time with your family, then make sure you do it. Cherish the time you would have otherwise been commuting, spend your lunchbreak building lego towers, or kicking a football around in the garden.
If your type of work allows, why not start work earlier and have an early finish, or take a couple of hours for lunch and work for an extra hour once your children are in bed. As long as working time is clearly defined, the other hours are yours to enjoy.
Work is work
Create a space that makes you feel like you’re at work. Home office design is key to making sure you, and everyone else in the home knows that your designated space is your place of work. If you’re working in a creative role, make sure your office space inspires you to do the best job you can. If you’re making greeting cards from home, for example, you’re going to need enough space for something like a Duplo DC-516 Cutter Creaser. That might mean you need to turn a whole room into your working space. Whatever your job, creating the right space to reinforce that you’re at work is key to keeping your work and home life separate; even if they’re only rooms apart!
It’s also a good idea to keep your office space child-free. Sticky fingers on your keyboard is one thing, but drawings on the back of important documents is a no-no.
Working from home with a young family can be tough, but it can also be extremely rewarding. If you’re considering it, good on you. By putting simple boundaries in place for both yourself and your children, you can get on with your work and then enjoy the extra time you get with your family.