Written by Doctor G

Help! I’m Going Back to Work!

Dr. G,

I’m going back to work in the fall.  My 2 older kids are in school and my youngest will be home with a sitter.  I’m starting a work from home business, with some meetings out.  I only plan to work three days a week, but it will be a big change for my kids.  How can make it easier for them?

A Hot Wife, in CaliforniaHere is my answer in one word: boundaries.

First, stick to your boundary about working 3 days a week.  The days may change, the way you break up the hours may need to flex depending on the needs of your family, your work, your (don’t forget this one!) self.  Maybe you’ve heard the saying “Work expands to fill the time allotted to it.”  This is SO true.

Second, create boundaries around your work space and time.  Just like other areas of your home that are not available to your children to run through at their whim, your office area should be off limits.  If you can find a space that has a door, so much the better.  When you go in to work, say goodbye to your little one, let them know you’ll be at work and you’ll see them when you are done.  Be clear to your children and your sitter (and your partner if he or she is home) under what circumstances it is OK to interrupt you.  Be very specific, or you’ll find yourself drawn into everything that is an emergency in your children’s minds (which can be anything from a lost sippy cup to a dried out marker or a cushion on the floor).

Most importantly, set boundaries around your family time.  Make it clear to clients and co-workers when you are available and when you will get back to them.  Try hard not to allow emails and calls and work stress to creep into time when your family and self are supposed to be your focus.  A great solution is to keep a  list on your phone or in your pocket that you can add to as you think of things that need to be done.

The more firm your boundaries, the less torn you will feel and the more everyone (including you) will know they can count on you.  This is a good way to avoid burn out before you make your first million!

If you’ll allow me a second word, it would be: expectations.

The best way to ease this transition is to make sure everyone has similar expectations.  Talk to your children about why you are making this change and what your goals are, both personally and for your family.  Listen to their concerns, express your own.  Kids handle change better when they know what to expect and why.  If you expect responsibilities to shift – and it’s a great idea to ask them to take on some new chores to help the family – spell it out and compromise.

Set up follow up meetings to track your family progress.  And good luck with your new venture!

Can anyone add some words of wisdom for a mom venturing into the world of Work From Home?

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3 thoughts on “Help! I’m Going Back to Work!”

  1. Great advice. I would love to work from home (soon hopefully) and I know I would need to be very clear about these things, both for myself and my family.

    The other thing I would do is schedule things around my family’s schedule. My husband stays at home with our son, so if I needed to be out for a meeting I’d try to schedule that for a time they were home to minimize the amount of time we overlap (as much as possible). It would help with the boundaries (and the noise).

    1. That is a great way to find balance. Working ones’ schedule to make it less stressful or upsetting to your family is a really good deed.

  2. As a mom who went back with 2 school age kids and started an at-home biz, I say “scheduling” is your friend! The more you can plan, the better! Plan your workout, your time with your kids, your work stuff, and of course – time with hubby.

    The flip side of the coin – don’t beat yourself up when the plan does not work! Just go to bed and wake up the next day and start all over!

    Good Luck – Rachel

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