Your kids promised to be on their bestest behavior when you told them that you’d be working from home. Now a few weeks in, your workday is a scattered assortment of juice box requests, toddler tantrum soothing sessions, and finding the remote control—again. As for your workload, well, not much work is getting done. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the peace and put in a full workday. Here’s how.
Have a family meeting—again. Even if you spoke with your family prior to accepting your telecommuting job, it’s a good idea to give the fam a fresher on what you need from them. Explain to your partner that just because you’re home it doesn’t mean that you are available to take the car to the mechanic or get his suits from the dry cleaners. Believe it or not, if your kids see your hubby respecting your work at home schedule, chances are they will, too.
Set up visual cues. It’s not enough to tell your family that you need peace and quiet (emphasis on the quiet) when you’re working—you’ll need to show them, too. Explain that when your door is shut, it means no interruptions, unless someone is bleeding or the house is on fire. When the door is slightly ajar, you are still working, but the kids can come in if they have an important question. Remind them that asking what you’re making for dinner does not constitute an important question.
Stop interrupting yourself. You know the saying, “Treat yourself as you would like others to treat you?” Well, the same applies to you working at home. If you ask for an interruption-free day, and then constantly stroll out of your home office to check on the kids or graze on snacks in the kitchen, then you’re setting yourself up for professional failure. Show your kids that you take your job seriously by sticking to what you say. If you don’t want the kids interrupting you, then don’t interrupt them as they’re watching the new American Girl movie.
Set them up for success. Kids can get bored—fast. So it’s smart to have a backup plan for those times when you’ll need at least an hour or two of uninterrupted time. Create anti-boredom boxes filled with fun toys and crafts that are age-appropriate for your kids. The kits should contain activities that they can do on their own without your assistance. Remember if you give your four-year-old a 100-piece puzzle of the Declaration of Independence, you’re going to spend the rest of your afternoon trying to put the pieces together—literally.
Embrace the chaos. Let’s face it. Even if you plan, prep and have a babysitter at the ready, there are still going to be moments in which you’re going to have to stop working to tend to your kids. While it’s great to have a mapped-out schedule of your workday, don’t be afraid if you have to break your workflow for a while as you tend to a scraped knee. After all, the beauty of being a work at home mom is that you get to be productive—and kiss the owies away, too.
Interruptions are guaranteed when you work from home. But by learning the tricks to minimizing them, you can ensure a great workday and have a better work life balance, too.
Jennifer Parris is the Career Writer for FlexJobs, an award-winning service that helps job-seekers find professional opportunities that offer work flexibility, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or alternative schedules. To learn more about Jennifer, visit FlexJobs.com or tweet @flexjobs.