The perks of working from home are underscored by the sheer number of people embracing the trend, yet it is not necessarily the easy solution some think it is. The benefits of extra time spent with the family can quickly give way to a yearning desire for the solitude of a traditional office, particularly on one of those days when a screaming toddler interrupts a conference call. Thankfully there are ways to enlist your family’s help to combat some of the everyday hassles that come with working at home.
Communication is key
Kids don’t always understand what is and isn’t expected of them. They see that Mom or Dad is home, so they have the natural expectation that Mom or Dad is available at whim. To that end, it’s important to communicate with your child each and every day. Explain what you do, notify them of times that you are unavailable except in the event of an emergency, and share your expectations regarding noise level in the house. A sign on your home office door or a series of hand signals can help remind them of what you expect.
Traditional workers look forward to coffee breaks; home workers should enjoy breaks as well. Sometimes these breaks are easy to incorporate (if you have to stop to take a child to piano lessons, for example), but they may feel like unnecessary distractions at other times. Re-frame the situation and look at them as kid breaks. Schedule a set time each day to take a break from working that is dedicated to time spent with your child. This not only helps you remember to take breaks, but also lets your child know that you will make time for him or her each day.
Working at home can be difficult because it’s easy to be distracted by home tasks that need to be done. If your child is old enough, delegate some of the chores to him or her. He or she can fold laundry, unload the dishwasher, make his or her bed, or pick up toys while you’re attending to your own work. This extra help means less time spent on home chores and more time spent together when both your work is finished.
Many who work at home like the idea of setting their own hours, but this isn’t always a realistic expectation when kids figure in. There are times when you have to work around their schedules instead of expecting them to work around yours. Rising early to put in a few hours of work before everyone else wakes up or staying up a few hours after bedtime to finish up projects might be necessary.