Less Mess, Less Stress
Working from home may offer a lot of benefits for parents since it generally allows for the flexibility required to care for children (while still bringing in a second income). But it can have some drawbacks, especially when it comes to separating work and your personal life.
This isn’t surprising considering that you’re working in your home and your spouse, your kids, your pets, and everything else in your life is bound to encroach upon your workspace (or vice versa). But those who want to run a business or freelance out of the home effectively need to find ways to keep business and pleasure separate if they’re going to avoid the mess and stress that comes from mixing the two.
Here are just a few ways to compartmentalize work and life into two spheres (within the same space).
5 Common Strategies of Effective Work-at-Home Parents
- Create a schedule. When working from home, it’s all too easy to get caught up with chasing the kids, running errands, and cleaning the house, amongst other things. In short, it can seem like everything takes priority over work. And yet, without your income to help pay the bills, you might not have these worries for long. So instead of “finding” the time to squeeze in work after a long day of attending to the family, set the kids up with quiet playtime or naps so you can get some job done.
- Remain flexible. Dealing with kids means that nothing ever goes as planned. For this reason, you need to stay flexible and have a backup plan in place for times when your kids require your full attention, and you can’t stick to the schedule.
- Ask for help. Don’t forget that your kids have more than one parent. Just because you stay home with them all day doesn’t mean you’re the sole caregiver. If you’re having trouble attending to the needs of your business while you watch the kids, ask your spouse to pitch in when he/she is home so that you can cloister yourself in the office and get in a few hours of work a day. If you need two incomes to keep the household running, then everyone has to do their part.
- Delineate a workspace. If you have a spare room that can be used as an office, you shouldn’t hesitate to set up shop. Having all of your work paraphernalia relegated to one room of the house will make it a lot easier to keep it separate from your family life. Of course, even with a dedicated room for work, you may have to allow the children in. But by setting them up with their own activity space, you can keep an eye on them while you work and maintain your workspace at the same time.
- Don’t allow for spillover. When your laptop and paperwork end up in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom, it’s only a matter of time before something important gets lost or damaged. Then you’ll have to scramble to recreate the work in question (or replace equipment). And there is the minor issue of having work clutter in your living space. The point is, you should keep your work confined to a workspace, even if it’s only a roll-top desk in the living room that gets closed at night. It’s not like you have to engage in equipment tagging to make sure your PDA doesn’t end up in your daughter’s room, but centralizing your stuff will make sure it’s easy to find when you need it.