We’ve all seen the cliche images of a parent trying to work from home while the baby crawls all over the keyboard or, worse, chews on something she really should not. It may make working from home seem like an unachievable ideal, but with some proper planning and structure, you can work from home and be a good parent. Here are our tips for how to set up your home office for success.
Establish a reasonable routine
If you have young children, it’s likely that utilizing their nap times and early bedtimes as prime efficient working hours are your first step. You are most able to focus on getting things done without keeping an eye and ear towards their movements and noises. If naptime is a thing of the past, create a regular, predictable schedule that the kids can understand and get used to. Perhaps you work during the early morning hours, take a break to have breakfast with the kids, then work again until lunch. Over time, they will understand your schedule.
Create clear rules and boundaries
Unless the kids know what is an appropriate interruption and what is not, you’ll find your work from home office becomes a high traffic area with questions about everything from crayons to snacks to why socks are called socks. As long as your kids are old enough to understand, put some energy and attention into creating and maintaining boundaries around interruptions, and when/how it’s ok to come into your office. Teach them to come in quietly just in case you’re on a phone call, or make signals that you all understand to indicate that you’re needed.
Choose one designated space for clear separation
It’s not always possible to have an entirely separate room for your office but avoid working at the kitchen table at all costs. Even a desk in a corner of the living room is better — that space will become associated with Work Time for both you and the kids. If you are working from home with a newborn, making room for baby can mean all sorts of space challenges. But setting aside even the smallest of areas designated for work can indeed make all the difference.
Let kids be kids
Let’s be honest: working from home with children in the house doesn’t mean you can expect them to be perfect, silent angels. Kids will be kids, and you’ll all be happier if you frame your time and expectations around that. Create space and resources for them to engage in activities that will truly entertain them for long periods of time, even if they’re a bit messy. You can all clean up later, together – just make sure the chosen activity is safe for them without your constant supervision.
Don’t completely rule out a little bit of help now and then
There’s no shame in having a nanny, babysitter, family member, or another parent in your community help out a few times a week. For many parents working out of a home office, the investment in a babysitter or nanny a couple of times a week pays itself off in the increased productivity. If hiring someone isn’t in your budget, consider a trade with another parent friend: you take the all the kids for a few hours one day a week, they take the kids for a few hours on another day. Then both of you can get a few hours of quiet productivity!
If setting up your home office means moving to a new house with more space, be sure to hire only the best moving services to make it all happen quickly, efficiently, and without hiccups — ensuring you can get right back to work!