A reader wrote:
Do you have any advice about working from home with kids?
Here’s something I wrote about the subject from 2006. Since then, we’ve added another child to the mix, started homeschooling and I work from home entirely.
During a typical week, I work from home for twenty to thirty hours. Although this allows me greater opportunity to see my wife and two small children, it can also be a little tricky at times. I’ve developed the following rules and routines for making the best of the situation.
- Create an office separate from the main living areas of the house and declare it off limits during working hours.
Help your child make a child readable sign for the office door so that he will know when it is and isn’t acceptable to burst into the office.
- Invest in some quality headphones for quiet, heads down, work.
I can’t count the number of times my wife has apologized to me because the everyone was running around screaming, and I responded “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
- Maintain a good work schedule, and stick to it.
Something that really helps in our home is that I have set working hours during the day. At 4 PM, I emerge from my office like someone returning home from work, and I’ll take the children to the park, help with chores around the house, or run errands with the family.
- Train the children to go silent when Dad’s cellphone rings, but make sure your cellphone ringer is turned on.
In our house, we have a game. When our eldest son hears my phone ring, he runs and asks his mother for a sticker for his “Daddy’s Phone Log” on the refrigerator. It’s made him become more aware of when I’m on the telephone and has the added benefit of sending him running away when the phone rings. Make sure, though, that you turn your ringer on. If you forget, and answer your phone after it vibrates, no one else will know that you’re talking to someone else and will pester you with “Huh?” and “What?” when they think you’re talking to them.
- Take a long lunch and enjoy your opportunity to work from home.
Enjoy the fact you’re working from home and take a time out in the middle of the day to enjoy a long and leisurely lunch.
- Ask your spouse to communicate with you via IM or email.
Nothing makes it more obvious that you’re working from home more than having your spouse constantly talking to you. Ask her to email or instant message you so you can ignore them like you would your coworkers’ messages if you were at the office. Grin.
What are your tips and tricks for working at home with the kids?