When your home is also your office its easy to let your work life blur into your home life. Who hasn’t answered a couple work emails while heating up dinner for your family?
But what about when the lines really start to blur and you use your toddler’s bath time to update your social media account while sitting next to the tub? Or you use your 3rd grader’s homework time to work on your client’s must do list instead of helping your child with their must learn spelling list?
Or maybe you spend your evenings on your laptop connected to your business instead of connecting with your husband?
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were enough hours in the day so that you could be present with your family instead of blurring the work life lines?
How awesome would it be to have boundaries between your work time and home time when you home is also your office?
Balancing Work and Family
As you feel your guilt grow about how hard it is for you to balance your work and family, remember it’s not just work from home moms that lose themselves in their work when their family is around.
I bet when you had a traditional job you brought your work into your home too.
And what about all of those parents who work long hours outside the home and don’t even get to see their children except for a few minutes before bed?
That guilt you are feeling is felt by working moms with traditional jobs too. But there is a difference that we work from home moms we need to own up to.
The difference is that we made a choice to work at home.
We made conscious choices to build our own business, work on contract or have remote jobs so that we can focus more time on our family.
And, while we are being honest with ourselves, we need to admit its hard to do.
So now what? How do we establish boundaries between work and home time when home is also the office?
How do we manage work and family time?
Breaking the Habit
First, it is important to know that you can break the habit of working around your children all of the time. It is possible to give them the attention they need and crave in the evenings without your work falling apart.
And there is enough time in the day to connect with your husband and still maintain a connection to your business’s social media account.
The reality, however, is that it is not easy to create new boundaries when there haven’t been any for a long time. It won’t happen overnight.
It’s like a new exercise routine or a healthier eating goal. It takes time to undo the old and start something new.
Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace and expect to have set backs.
While there is no perfect once size fits all solution to blending work and home, setting work boundaries in the evening is the easiest way to start
Steps to Reset Your Work Life Balance
1. To reset your work life balance start by deciding on two or three changes you are going to make for the next three weeks.
2. Write down those two or three changes that you are going to make and keep your list out in the open somewhere easy to see.
3. Communicate with your husband and children (if your children are old enough to be part of a family conversation.) Share with them that you recognize your work time has made its way into family time and that you are making a couple changes.
4. Ask your family for accountability regarding the two or three changes you plan to make. And ask them for grace while you learn to let go of old habits.
5. After three weeks, evaluate your progress and celebrate your success.
Five Changes You Can Make Today to Reset Your Work Life Balance
1. Put away your cell phone.
This is a big one emotionally but also the easiest to implement. Switch your text and notifications to silent and put your cell phone on the charger at a designated time each night. Don’t pick it back up until your children are in bed.
If you are worried about what people will think when you don’t respond to their texts turn on the auto reply.
In the auto reply you can be honest and share that they have reached you during family time or you can just note that you will respond a little later.
2. Don’t bring your laptop or tablet in to your bedroom.
This is another easy one to implement. Plug your laptop or tablet in to charge on your desk at designated time each night and leave it there until morning.
3. Wake up earlier.
I see you rolling your eyes at me but creating a morning routine you can stick with can be a real game changer.
Set your alarm to wake you up one hour earlier then you wake up now for the next three weeks.
In the morning, when the house is quite, organize your must do list for the day then pick off a few quick wins.
If you are groggy and concerned about quality of work use that time to update social media graphics, to write thank you notes or to log in and check your business bookkeeping tool (I use and LOVE Freshbooks.)
If you are worried about remembering what you want to get accomplished at that hour of the morning, leave yourself a note the night before with your crack of dawn to do list. That way all you have to do is look at the list and get to work.
4. After you put your children to bed complete one extra household chore every night.
Yes, you read that right. When your home is also your office its easy to get distracted by chores during work hours.
If you are anything like me chores end up getting done during family time.
To over come this, the extra chore I try to accomplish every night is to pick up all the toys off the family room floor.
There is just something about seeing a tidy family room at 5:30am in the morning that allows me to start the day more productively.
Your extra nightly chore might be different than mine. Maybe it’s making sure the kitchen sink is empty or prepping the next day’s lunches.
5. Decide on a time to stop working at night and stay consistent.
This one, if you stick to it can be a game changer. Allow yourself a set amount of time each night to finish a work project or catch up on anything that you may have missed while focusing dinner and family time.
Then put your computer on your desk to charge and spend the rest of your evening with your husband and/or teens. Maybe even go to bed early once in awhile!
Set a reoccurring appointment in your calendar. Let it remind you 15 minutes before its time to wrap up for the day.
Don’t panic about what you didn’t finish. Make a quick list so you can pick back up where you left off first thing in the morning.
But There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day!
You might have skimmed through the five changes you can make to reset your work life balance but wondered how there will be enough time left to get everything done.
And here’s the crazy thing. No matter how many hours you give yourself you will get a similar amount of work done.
Its true. Its been studied and it even has a name, Parkinson’s law. Nothcote Parkinson found that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
When I first heard about this I didn’t really believe it.
But think about the old adage “give a busy person a job and it gets done.” That’s really the same thing, right?
By placing limits on the time you have for work when your family is around you will use the time you do have more efficiently and effectively.
Balancing work and family as a work at home mom comes with its own unique set of challenges. You made a choice to bring you work into your home and when work time overlaps with family time that comes with its own kind of guilt.
You can break the habit of working during family time by taking steps to reset your work life balance. Sharing your plan with you family will help keep you accountable and give you a better chance for success.
Choose two or three habits to change today like leaving your cell phone on the charger from dinner time to your children’s bed time. Or waking up an hour earlier everyday to give yourself additional time to work.
The Parkinson’s Law has shown that there really are enough hours in the day and it’s up to you to decide how efficiently and effectively you use them.