How to Balance Working at Home with Family Life

I worked as an educator out of the home for 10 years.  When our third child was born, I quit my job and began to work from home.  I’ve now worked at home for nine years while also homeschooling.  I love working at home and never want to go back to the 9-to-5 grind, but if I’m not careful, my job can easily take over, and then I lose precious family time, which is why I wanted to start working from home in the first place.

Sound familiar?  Unfortunately, this is an issue most women struggle with.  Because your job is at home, establishing firm work boundaries is difficult, but it can be done.  Here are some strategies that may help:

Have Office Hours

Even though you’re not leaving the house to go to work, you can still establish office hours when you’ll be doing work.  If you have young children, this may be the time a family member watches the kids or you hire a babysitter.  For older kids, it may be when the kids are at school.  My office hours tend to be between 5 to 6 a.m., 4 to 5 p.m., 8 to 9 p.m., and then all day Saturday.  Pick the times when you’re most productive and when you’ll have the least interference from the kids.

Enlist the Aid of Your Spouse

My husband works a traditional job and is gone from 8 to 6 every day, but on the weekend, he does the bulk of the child care so that I can have large chunks of work time.  If you’d like to have work time without interruptions from the kids, enlist the aid of your spouse to spend time with the kids while you work.

Work Early in the Morning or Late at Night

One great way to maximize family time is to do your work early in the morning before the kids wake up or at night after they’re in bed.  Of course, if you have older children, they’re generally more understanding of letting you work during the day, but younger kids, at least mine, tend to want access to mom during the day.  

Set Times When You’re Not Online

If you spend all day trying to multi-task—doing your work and caring for your children--you’ll undoubtedly be frustrated.  Just like you should have designated office hours, you should also have designated times when you’re offline and fully present for your children.  If you fill your children up with your time and attention during the time you are with them, they’re more likely to let you work afterward because they’ve gotten enough of your time and attention.  Put away your computer and your cell phone and just be present with your family.

Working from home is a gift, but doing so does require a careful balancing act.  It’s easy to always find one more thing to do, and soon, if you’re not careful, your work can take more and more time from your family.  However, using strategies such as those above, you can have a satisfying career and family life.

How do you separate family time from work time and balance both roles in your life?

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