If you’re a stay at home dad like me, you will know that this comes with great advantages but also some definite disadvantages as well. When I decided to set up my own company and quit my dull 9-5 office job, I loved the fact that I had so much more time to spend time with my son. I got to bond with him much more closely and I loved the fact that we could kick a soccer ball around the yard or take the dog for a walk at virtually any time of the day.
However, my constant presence at the home initially became somewhat of a problem for me as my son soon believed I was available all the time and would often interrupt me during important business calls and other work related tasks. This became even more problematic when I enrolled in a part time law school program, as the additional duties became severely limiting on my free time.
I had to set firm boundaries that allowed me to still spend plenty of time with my kid without it compromising my school and work productivity. This worked out well in the end because I still got to spend more quality time with my son than ever before and we were able to build a close father and son relationship that I’m sure will last forever.
Based on my own experience as a stay at home dad, here are 5 ways you can set healthy boundaries with your kids when you work from home:
Print a Schedule
Make a schedule of your weekly appointments and work hours and put it up on the fridge door or somewhere that all of your family can easily see. This way they can know when you’re available and also when you are strictly off limits.
Make Your Home Office Private
Set up your home office so that your kids can’t easily gain access to it. This might mean by having it away from the house such as converting your garden shed into an office or simply by having a lock if your office is in the house. By firmly establishing that this is your territory, your kids will likely respect that and be less likely to run amuck in your work space.
Have Another Adult Present During Work Hours
If you have some serious work to do, make sure there is another adult in the house to care for your kids. It is virtually impossible to get some serious work done when you have boisterous young kids in the house, so if my wife is busy I try to hire a babysitter during my work hours. This allows me to get on with my work without having to constantly worry what my son is up to!
Talk to Your Kids
Explain to your kids that you have to work some hours of the day and are simply unavailable during those times. Your kids will then have a clearer understanding for why they can’t have constant access to you when you’re at home and in turn will probably be more likely to comply with your rules.
Plan a Daily Hang Out Time
For me, one of the best things about working at home is that I do get lots more time to hang out with my son than I did when I had a regular office job. In order to make sure I make the most of this I always try and schedule a specific time every day when we can hang out and do fun stuff together. Sometimes we go bowling or to the driving range and other times we just relax and veg out in front of the television. Whatever we do, I am grateful that my new lifestyle allows me to spend such quality time with my kid.
As you can see, as long as you set some clear boundaries it is very easy to be a work from home dad and get the balance between family and work right. Hit the ground running with regards to setting rules and see what works and what doesn’t. Remember to make the most of the free time you get and don’t work too hard. Good luck!