For the most part I have had my office in my home. This creates a number of different challenges. Today I am going to share with you what I have learned over the years about juggling family and business in the same venue.
My Office Is In My Home
“This is the living room and this is my office.”
Many home tours include this comment. Whether the office is a completely separate wing, a room or a corner in the kitchen or family room, one space is designated as an office. Suddenly home is also a place of business. For parents who are working out of their homes, managing children and work in the same location can take some juggling.
Home or Work
Psychologically, it’s important for you to know where you are at any given moment; at home or at work. I remember learning this lesson the hard way. Both children were at school and I was busy developing a workshop. I was also doing the laundry.
Okay, one load in the washer, laptop ready, resource books and articles at hand, workshop topic clear in mind and I started. Maybe I should start the workshop with…whoops, sounds like the wash is finished. I moved the wash to the dryer and started a new load.
Now, I know how I should start the workshop. I got rolling and the workshop was really cooking. The ideas were exciting, the material was writing itself and “darn it!” I forgot about the wash. The story of the rest of that day is better left to your imagination. Neither job was done well and I found myself frustrated and annoyed. I learned my lesson. These days, I am either at work or at home, never both.
Some of the ways to accomplish this are:
• A separate room or area, preferably one where you can’t see the rest of the house. If you are using part of a room, have some way of closing the space, as if you closed a door.
• A ritual that will convince you that the route to your office is taking you away from home and to the office. I have known people who actually went outdoors and re-entered to go the work.
• Call the work area your office.
• Have a separate phone line for work.
• Ignore the office phone while you eat meals and in the evenings.
What about the children?
• If your children are not yet in school you have special problems because they are present all day. Have a caregiver in the house or use part-time childcare when you are at work.
• Arrange your work schedule to coincide with pre-school or other activities when you are not actively engaged in child-care.
• Consider an office outside the home until the children are in school.
• One trap is the innocent request of a spouse who is doing the child-care; “I just have to run out for a few minutes, can you keep an eye on the children?” Of course, you say yes. Do consider how much this break in your work and concentration takes from your work before you make it a habit.
• Make your office off-limits. Teach your children that when you are in the office you are at work.
• Invite your children in occasionally to see what you do in there (in the same way parents with offices away from home bring their children in from time to time).
If you need to work with children underfoot there are some guidelines you can look to:
• Be reasonable in your expectations for the child. A pre-schooler cannot amuse himself for an hour or two while you work.
• Television is not a good daytime babysitter for extended lengths of time.
• Be honest with your child and follow through. If you say you’ll be off the phone in five minutes — do it!!
• Find someone else in the same boat and share child-care so you can each do one job at a time and do each well.
• Or find some part-time, on-call child-care for those unexpected meetings or deadlines.
• Be aware of the time so children have snacks, meals and naps on time.
• If you have to take children out with you running errands, have fun things in the car (books, magnetic games, CDs) to amuse them.
Your family also needs to know when you are working or not working. Often people who work at home choose to work weird hours. This is fine but your family needs to know when you are not working.
One of the most frustrating things for families is to live with someone who is constantly at work. This is especially tempting for people who have a desk in the corner of a room and can gravitate easily to the desk or those who have the kind of work they can do on their laps while chatting. But the family never gets the full attention of that family member, and they resent it.
No matter how many hours you work make sure to make some time for:
• Your children
• Your marriage or relationship
Sarah is shy, Jared is bossy and Pat is Easy-Going. What do we need to know about different temperaments?
Every child is unique and different. My mini guide e-book, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses some of the temperaments we see in our kids.
I looked at my two children who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.