Dear Maggie Series: Kiddos

dear maggie
Dear Maggie,

As a parent, working from home is such a blessing! Getting to send them off to school, attend midday field trips, and being home when they return is a privilege I’ll never take for granted.

The only struggle though, is balancing work and family time when the kids are on vacation. I always seem to spend the entire day trying to placate one of them, and no matter how hard I try, the interruptions always equate to less work during the day and more in my evenings.

And of course, this doesn’t help with the reports of “Dad works all the time!” and only furthers their desire to have more of my time the next day. Any tips for making these days more enjoyable for everyone?

Run Ragged in Reno

Hey Ragged,

While I don’t have any rugrats of my own, I do have a total of 7 make that 8, nieces and nephews. Whenever I work from my brother’s house and the munchkins are around, my productivity is completely shot. I spoke with a few expert Intrideans though, Ben and Jeff, who manage being great dads and productive workers, and we’ve come up with a few surefire tips for gettin’ er done when the kiddos are around:

1. Tell them “bye” in the morning.

You may just be going into your office, but we’d still recommend telling your kids “bye” in the morning. It doesn’t have to be any more grandiose than a quick hug and a kiss for their day. Sure, you’ll probably see them again in five minutes for a coffee refill, but it creates a clean break and lets them know “you’re now at work.”

2. Create boundaries.

The best way to get work done with little ones around is to have your own space. Many people will create a hanging sign for their office door, indicating they are or are not available. Others create a system of their door being open or cracked. Whatever your method is, establish clear boundaries that your children can understand.

3. Ask for quiet when you need it.

Everyone knows kids are GREAT at making noise. Between general mirth or tears and the toys and TV, things can get loud. Usually just a quick “Hey, hoping on a call” is all it takes to keep them happy and quiet for the duration (so long as you’ve explained what that means, and they have engaging quiet activities for them). It’s important to follow up if expectations aren’t met, and you should be ready for it to take a little while to get it just right.

4. Expect the unexpected.

You never know what you might walk into when you leave your office, and trying to plan or expect too much will lead to disappointment. Accept that you’re raising kids (not robots) and it is their house as well. Do your best to come to terms with the ups and downs, and remember they’re only this little once, so don’t let the mess affect the time you have with them.

5. Make time for visits.

All the above might make it sound like you should try to be distant from your kids during the day, but it’s quite the opposite. You should do your best to make time and visit with them for small blocks of time every day. Try having lunch with your family, play a game, or go for a walk with them. It’s the simple things kids remember most and working from home is the perfect opportunity to create those memories.

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Also, check out Dear Maggie’s advice on relationships and working remotely.