For anyone who had ever dealt with a long commute or long hours in a cubicle, working from home feels like a day off many times and should be considered a luxury. Working from home has other benefits, such as gas savings, less wasted time (waiting in traffic), a comfortable environment, and (my favorite) you can work in your pajamas if you so desire.
I have an office job but I also have a consulting business on the side. This means that there are times when I need to work from home. I sometimes work from home with my office job as well as my consulting job. This works fine during the school year…but during summer break it presents an issue. You see, I have three children ages 14,10, and 5. They see dad at home and they think it’s play time. It’s hard (especially for the 5 yr old) to understand that I’m at home…but I’m working.
I actually started going to the library and working there so that I could concentrate. But my wife and I talked about decided that there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to make it work. So we brainstormed and came up with some ways to make working from home with kids doable.
1. Separate Space
The first thing we did was convert part of our garage to a small office. When I say small..I mean small. It’s roughly 4’x10′. It has a built in (simple) desk on one end and a small desk with bookshelf on the other. There are two doors. One going into the garage and one going into the kitchen. This means that you have to walk through my office when coming into the house from the garage. This isn’t ideal but it’s still better than I had before. I have the door to the kitchen which I can close when I need peace and quiet.
2. Let Them Know You’re Working
The next problem was that the kids would come into the office when I was working and ask me to play, or help them, or just to tattle on their sibling. The door meant next to nothing to them. So we hung up a sign which let them know that daddy is working and should not be disturbed. Of course the 10 yr old had to ask “What if we accidentally cut our finger off?” I explained that true emergencies qualified for an exemption from the sign.
3. Make Time For The Kids
This last part is the best. I make sure to take breaks and do fun things with the kids. There are times when I have a deadline and I can’t take as many breaks. But the kids know that eventually I will take a break and we will read a book or shoot some basketball or play a board game. This actually serves many purposes. It gives me a mental break from work, it let’s me spend quality time with the kids, and it let’s them know that I haven’t forgotten about them and they are very important to me.
I realize these may seem like simple points but you’d be surprised how long it took me to figure it out (I’m a little slow sometimes). Leave a comment below with how you manage to work from home with kids.