With work-at-home jobs and the lines between work and family having become so blurred, many of us are trying to get a million things done at once.
More than once lately I have made dinner with my laptop next to the stove. While everyone else in my family is asleep I am finishing up blog posts. I help my son with homework while doing my own work. Clearly this is not the best use of my sanity. Nor is it fair to my family. It is time to set some boundaries and more importantly, stick to them.
So, how do you set boundaries between working at home and family? I started by asking around and here is what I learned:
First and foremost it is important to let the little things go. Checking your email, Facebook and Twitter accounts may be addicting, but it really is just taking your time and focus away from something else. And really, are you going to be a bigger success, see a huge boost in your fans/followers or land that amazing new client at 9:15 pm on Tuesday?
Elizabeth from PartyPlanningProfessor.com recently consolidated her emails into one account and then deleted email from her phone entirely. She says that on occasion she will miss it but, “I know it is better for all of us in the long run!”
Setting boundaries begins with choosing a consistent time to disconnect every day. That way you can be present in the moment with your family. Yet the times we choose to may differ from person to person based on each family’s needs and dynamics.
“Our rule has always been that when we get home from work there’s no computer and hopefully no phone until the kids go to bed…. Set out a certain time daily that you will not be on the computer or phone and work on keeping that promise.” Candice at FashionablyOrganized.com
“Designate a time every day that you disconnect and give that time 100% to your family. So from 4-7 every night (and lots of other times besides this, of course) I am completely 100% disconnected.” Stacie at TheDivineMissMommy.com
“I tweet very little on weekends and rarely blog. I commit to the boys’ activities and date night and leave blogging to the work week. I aim for only email communication once the boys are home from school because phone calls are almost impossible.“ Rachel at BacknGrooveMom.com
“I try not to write during the day since my girls are still home for most of it so most of my blogging was happening at night. But then my husband felt neglected. We worked out a balance where he bathes and put the girls to bed, cleans the kitchen, and chills out while I blog from 6:30-8. At eight the computers go off and we hang out together.” Kate at TheGuavaliciousLife.com
As much as we’d like to set those boundaries, it is also somewhat important to keep your approach flexible. After all, life happens – and as we all know it usually happens while you have other plans. So create a routine but be prepared for life to get in the way on occasion. There will always be sick kids, school closings and rescheduled conference calls.
“It’s all about balance. For us we aim to leave computers and phones off from 3:30-7:30 but sometimes I break that rule if it’s necessary. In most cases that’s because I have traded off by spending the morning at school or something similar. I also unplug for the weekend. If I need to catch up on work I leave home so they kids can be without me trying to find quiet in the house. It helps that my husband is so supportive of my endeavors. We make time for date night once a week where we have no phones or computers.” Kelly at TheCentsibleLife.com
So here’s my new vow. I am going to do nothing but work three days a week while my kids are in school. One day will be set aside for errands, appointments, laundry and the like. Fridays I will play catch-up in the morning then spend time with my son who is home in the afternoons. I will be off my pc from 4:30 until 8:00 every night. (I’m still bringing my iPad to karate though. It is 1.5 hours a week when I like to catch up on reading other blogs.) Exercise will have to be fit in somewhere, but I’ll figure that out too. Oh, just one more thing. No laptops in the kitchen. Now, you are going to hold me to this. Right??
How do you maintain boundaries between home and work? Do you have any tips to share?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller’s Day Off