Summer. Popsicles. Beaches. Kids.
School’s out. Kids are home, are you, too?
If you are one of over 3.1 million telecommuters in the United States, you have been anticipating summertime with a mixture of excitement and dread (okay, this is true of all parents, but people who work from home tend have particular concerns).
It’s a huge relief to get a break from the morning routine of rousing sleepy kids and tossing them out the door. But now they are home all day, making demands on you, because — after all — you’re right there (and what could you possibly be doing that is more important than looking for holes in the slip n’ slide?)
So how do you do it? How do you meet the demands of work and the demands of your kids, not to mention your own summertime interests?
Involve your kids in the solution. Find out what’s most important to them this summer and let them know that you are willing to make it happen (assuming their requests are reasonable).
Manage Expectations. Explain that they can only get what they want when your space is respected and you can get your work done first. If this means that every day until 2:00 you cannot be interrupted for anything less than profuse bleeding, then make that clear to them.
Set them up for Success. If you expect them to prepare and clean up their own snacks, drinks, and lunches, then be sure that they know where everything is and that they can reach it all with ease. This might mean setting out a box of goldfish crackers with a scoop so they know how much to take; or putting drinks into easy-to-handle pitchers for younger children.
Tell them How to Contact You. My kids text me when I’m working. Yes, we are in the same, relatively small house, but it is a non-intrusive way for them to get my attention without breaking my concentration. Maybe you prefer that they knock on your office door and wait for you to respond. Maybe you want them to silently watch you work until you feel their beady eyes on you. Whatever works best for you — explain it to them and only respond when they meet your expectations.
Know their Natural Schedules. If you, like me, have teens and pre-teens, they like to sleep in. This is a blessing to my work, as I can get a full day in before they crack an eyelid. If your children are young enough to have a nap / quiet time, this might be a great opportunity for you to schedule a call.
Keep Your Word. Honor your commitment to your family. If you said you were only working until 2:00, then step away from your computer at the appointed time. When you are with your children, turn off your smartphone, stop checking email, be present — fully present — for them.
Merging summertime fun into your telecommuting schedule can be challenging. It is worth the effort. When the sun hits the beach and you’re there to enjoy it, you know you will never go back to commuting and rigid schedules again.
Don’t forget the ice-cream.
What’s your favorite summertime telecommuting experience?