As a parent, if you are self employed or work from home, you have a unique set of challenges for managing your workday. What to do?
- Keep Sunday nights as quiet time, to get ready for the week.
- Schedule some break time, down time, relaxation or “white space” throughout your day. Schedule it in your calendar.
- This will help because you won’t need quite as much decompression time after work. The flexibility of working from home.
- 1/2 hour before the end of your workday, make an appointment called something like: “Switch gears to personal time.” Or “Get ready for the kids to arrive home.” Something specific.
- If your kids need to be picked up after school, do this “switching gears” once before you pick them up. And do it a second time if you end your workday later on.
- Take a walk or exercise or meditate each day before you leave work behind. Make that your “switching gears” time.
- If you are someone who needs activity to keep your mind calm (if you have ADHD especially), what are ways you can get movement into your days? Or if it’s meditation that works to help you slow down or pay attention, could you do 10 minute spot meditations?
These tips will help you be calm, mindful and present when your family is around as well as help with the natural breaks in your day when you need to pick up kids or drop them off somewhere.
- Whether a sit down time, or talked about at supper, take time to get organized: What’s up for the next day’s schedule; School projects due in the next two weeks [no surprises, please]; What events are happening at school [which need extra time – sports gear, special event days, bringing in food, etc.]. It’s like a “status” meeting you’d have at work, so that you avert crises. Talk about drop off and pickup for kids; who is going to which games; is either parent traveling or changing work hours that week. All of these require different time organizing systems.
- Having the family together for these meetings helps everyone, not just one parent, to understand how much there is to manage. It makes it easier to enlist everyone in getting things done. It prevents stress from landing on one partner or parent. And it teaches life skills to the kids.
- As the parent working from home, spend extra time describing what you did that day. You can keep your “done” list and share it with everyone, or mentally remember some highlights to bring to the table. This helps everyone understand you’re not “home,” but you’re working. This will help prevent extra tasks being asked of you “just because” you’re at home.
- As the parent working from home, that is not a license to ask you to do EVERYthing related to the home, kids, appointments, etc. If you’re working full time, then you’ll need to talk about sharing those responsibilities. Not an easy conversation, but you’ll find doing it all either generates resentment and frustration or you’ll burn out. None is a way you’d want to treat family members, right?
Your Office & Workday
- Make sure you have a private, dedicated space for your office, which you keep “organized enough” for you. That’s not a kitchen counter, not a dining room table or other “not really an office” space; this affects how seriously people (family and friends) take you when you say you are working. It’s fine to work around the house if you need to move, but find a home base office.
- It also affects how you manage your time: how much work you do that’s office work vs. things for the family. Keep your boundaries comfortable in terms of what works for you and also for your company if you’re telecommuting.
- If you have a child at home for all or part of the day, decide how you will manage doing both jobs, parent and worker. It may be that you can do well at both. If you are easily distractible or don’t have a flexible company culture, you might consider hiring a sitter or using daycare on those days.
- It’s a balance and it’s tough. It will change as kids grow older, too, so each school year may have different ways you organize your time.
- Stick to your hours. They are likely broken up by drop off and pickup and then spending time after school together. Will you work after you’ve settled your kids? Will you work at night? Decide what your work hours are and stick to them, whether you are self employed or telecommute; if you telecommute, be upfront and discuss this need with your manager.
- If you don’t take your hours seriously, nobody else will.
If you have trouble navigating these waters, or feel like the snowball never melts, reach out and ask about short term coaching and virtual productivity or organization services. Thanks for being here.