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Work and family. They don’t always mix nicely, do they? My husband Jason & I both work from home, so our work and family naturally intertwine. We take turns with ‘office hours’ and ‘Emma hours’. He usually works in the morning while I do Emma’s homeschool language arts, phonics, and math. Then we all have lunch together. The afternoon finds me in the office and Jason doing homeschool science, social studies, health, and whatever other odds and ends we didn’t get to. Our schedule allows both of us to have work time, teacher time, and family time.
Or so you would think.
This is one area of parenting that I’m really working hard to improve. I’m not good at it. At all. I’m one of those people who gets into a project, and when quitting time comes, I have a hard time shutting down the project part of my brain. Even if Emma and I are working on an craft or playing a game, that project is still rolling around up there. Sometimes I’ll even extend my office hours an extra 30 minutes to finish just one more thing. Of course, one thing turns into several, and 30 minutes turns into an hour and a half. And by the time I’m done, it’s time to start dinner, and I’ve lost my hang-out-with-the-family-before-dinner time.
I’d love to say that I have a tried-and-true solution for this one. I haven’t yet learned how to shut off the brain (and the computer) in the late afternoon and simply enjoy my family. I have some ideas that I’ve been tossing around. I’ll share those with you, and maybe you can share some of your ideas with me. Remember, we’re in this together! Let’s help each other be more intentional in raising our kids.
Focused Attention :: During office hours I’m focused on work (and need to STAY focused on work). When I’m not working, I need to focus my attention fully on whatever I’m engaged in. It might be playing a game, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, or just chatting with Emma or Jason. If I can keep my attention focused, I might be able to better compartmentalize the different areas of my life and devote my full attention to whatever task is at hand.
Set an Alarm :: I’m considering setting my phone alarm for 4:30 p.m. That would give me enough time to stop working, finish up dinner prep, and hang out with my family before we eat. The alarm might take care of the working too long issue. Granted, there will be days when we have a huge project with a strict deadline, and one or both of us will need to work longer. If we know that and can talk through the schedule as a family, everyone will be on the same page. Plus, it’s a good lesson for Emma to see us model tackling a big project and handling deadlines.
Accountability :: My best bet is this one. If I talk to my husband about what I’d like to do, I know that he would come to the office door and remind me that quitting time is just around the corner. When we talk through what our day’s schedule will look like, we can figure out if 4:30 is a reasonable quitting time or if that day’s office hours need to be extended a bit.
Delegate :: Delegation is another one of my weak areas. My sweet husband is more than willing to lend a hand with dinner prep if I ask. If I want to spend some extra time with Emma, I know that he will jump right in and finish up dinner to free me up for that time. I just need to ask.
Designated Family Time :: The time between dinner and bedtime for Emma needs to be strictly family time. I have a tendency to sneak into the office to check just one thing. (Notice a pattern here?) That one thing turns into a quick email check and a Facebook status update, and before I know it I’ve wasted 20 minutes. Making the office off-limits between dinner and bedtime will give me some quality time with my family.
Do you have any other tips that have worked for you? How are you intentional about keeping work from interfering with your time with your kids?
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