healthy family/work boundaries - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 06-02-2011, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Sarah,


Both my husband and I do a considerable amount of work from home. I find myself increasingly frustrated by the lack of clear boundaries between work & family life. Inevitably, email has to checked or phone calls returned - and often at times when we could be spending time together as a family. We have a 2-year old son who is home full-time except for two mornings/week. 


Do you have any suggestions for how to balance home and work life in a more healthful way?




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#2 of 4 Old 06-11-2011, 07:16 AM
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Hello Annique,


I've been in the same scenario off and on for the past ten years with both of us working from home.  At one point we sharing one desk with one computer In our bedroom, and a baby & a 2 year old.   Another not so healthy era featured us putting the kids to bed, then sitting at our side by side laptops and desks til midnight every night...


These days we've dedicated one room as a blended office for him & craft space for me.  Then we carved out a tiny (5 x 5 niche in the basement for me that actually has an external door so I have to leave the house to go to work, which I LOVE.  I  find the impulse to check emails waaaay too strong, so need that level of separation to keep a healthy balance for myself.  Some of you may wonder why i didn't combine my craft & office spaces - seems logical, and even inspirational - but for me it was just way too distracting and felt unhealthy.  I can somewhat ignore his work stuff because it's not on my to do list.


Yes, there are inevitable times when email has to be checked & phone calls returned.  The question is how we define the importance of these.  It takes a stepping back for both of you, knowing that the truly urgent messages can be responded to, but most truly could wait until your work hours the next day.  It's easy to step into the mindset that all messages Have to be returned.   Also, when there is one of those urgent calls, the trick is to make it, and then Leave the Office without checking emails!


A few suggestions:

*Set clear work hours for both of you.  With a young child this likely involves a weekly meeting between you to get clear on how each of you can get the time that you need.

*When the end of your work hours arrives, turn OFF the computer.  Don't leave it on.  I've even gone so far as to unplug it (turning off the power bar saves energy and $$ too!).

*Declare one night a week when you both work after his bedtime.  This night can change each week depending on the to do list.  Knowing there will be a night helps you settle in and enjoy the other nights together.

*Open up an honest & loving dialogue in which you can both gently let the other one know when a line has been crossed and family time has suffered.  If this is a desire for both of you to have good work-family boundaries, then you need to create a support system for one another.


and finally...

Most of us working from home with young kids find ourselves saying "in just a minute", " i just need to finish this email", and "just hold on..." a whole lot.  There is this line where the kids need to understand that work time is work time, but there's also the reality that a 2 year old really can't understand that, and really does need us in that moment.  The respect for work time will come over time as they grow older, and one of the greatest gifts is to be able to take that moment to step away and give them our full attention.  Often when we do, they will self-entertain far more effectively than if we try negotiating for those extra few precious minutes...  


These days my kids are 7 & 9 and in school.  When they do come home and I am still on work hours, they are amazingly good about supporting me in that, and feeling comfortable coming to me when they need me.  On occasion my younger son especially will come in with some drawing materials and let me know he's just going to quietly do some art while I work.  I suspect he likes the quiet focused energy of the space as much as I do!  All this to say, Annique - it get's easier :)




Sarah Juliusson

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Contact me now for a free initial phone consultation!


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#3 of 4 Old 07-08-2011, 12:20 PM
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Love this.  We deal with the same issues with our own business.  He's a workaholic and I'm main caregiver for our 17 month old.  It's difficult to make professional phone calls with a child playing in the background, but somehow we do it.

DD#1 arrived 2/7/10!
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#4 of 4 Old 07-08-2011, 04:14 PM
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Difficult indeed!  I try to focus my phone calls in the moments when they are away / asleep / happily playing but there are inevitable moments of interruption.  My husband figures it makes him look "well-rounded"!



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