From the outside, “work from home” parents can seem like they’ve got it made. Flexibility, freedom, childcare on tap, no nasty commute – you name it. The benefits of working for yourself or working from home as a parent are multiple, but it’s not all a bed of roses. As with any job and any professional situation, there will always be obstacles to navigate and hurdles to overcome.
Separating your work life from your family life is one of the biggest challenges home workers will confront. It might be great to be able to care for your youngsters while you work, but how can you ensure you have the time and space you need to focus on your professional life while raising a family? While you’re beavering away, how can you make it clear that you’re not to be disturbed except in emergencies and how can you set boundaries your family respect?
Whether you’re a freelance writer or a wine tasting party host, we’ve come up with five essential tips which will help you get your work-life balance just right – and keep the kids out of your hair.
- Define your workspace
Setting up a dedicated “office” within your home is a very good way to separate business and personal time- and demonstrate to your family that you are in “work mode” if you tend to work flexible hours. Your new “office” doesn’t need to have a traditional desk and chair – instead it can be any space in your home where you feel productive and in a positive frame of mind for work. Make it clear that this is your work area and you must not be disturbed here unless in cases of emergency.
- Make your status clear
If you’re self-employed, it’s not always easy for family members to tell when you are and are not in “work mode”, so it helps to make things clear. You may do this by explicitly stating they you will be working for the next X hours, you may have an “at work” sign on your door, or you may even wear more professional attire during work hours – whatever works for you!
- Don’t do household tasks during “work hours”
If you have standard work hours, make sure you don’t make yourself too available to your family during these times. Running errands, helping around the home and undertaking chores will tell your family that you are available for these kinds of tasks during your professional time which can make them much more likely to ignore your professional boundaries in future. You’ll also find that household tasks are a huge time suck!
- Capitalise on nap time
If you have a young family, you’ll know that nap time can be a godsend. If your little ones snooze at specific times of the day, make sure you prioritise your most important tasks, which require the most focus, for these times.
- Hire help
Self-employment and home working may seem like a viable alternative to childcare, but you’ll quickly realise that even work-from-home parents need help when it comes to juggling professional life and childcare. To get the best of both worlds, hire a babysitter for the noisiest, more distracting portion of the day to allow you to crack on undisturbed.