The evolution of technology in our daily lives has had a tremendous impact on our ability to separate work from home life. Maintaining appropriate boundaries between the two requires attention and diligent practice.
Our schedules today are packed. Work hours are longer. Our children have multiple involvements. There is very little down time in most of our lives. Through the practice of effective time management, we are able to get more accomplished and actually come out ahead - with more time for our family.
Today, cell phones allow us to answer business calls from the comfort of our own home, our car, or the playground. Communication via email lures us into a 24/7 monitoring of who is trying to contact us and what we need to answer to. While this constant accessibility may be convenient, we also need to examine the possible damage to our home lives and the values we are modeling to our children.
Moms who work at home (WAHM) strive even harder to draw that line between working and mothering. WAHMs may need to be creative with working hours, piecing them together throughout the day. We need to be more diligent with the rhythms we create in order to accomplish all of our tasks.
Maintaining specific work hours helps uphold appropriate distinctions between work life and home life. Even when required to bring work home, steps can be taken to ensure that work-at-home time occurs when the children are sleeping. Sometimes moms, especially work-at-home moms, may NEED to put in some time during waking hours. It is helpful to make it part of the routine so your children know what to expect. Set the alarm and when work time is “over”, make sure you stop working.
Turning off the cell phones is an excellent habit to develop. Devote homework time to your children. Keep your cell phone in your pocket when you are at the park. Phone time should be designated for moments that won’t disturb parent-child interactions. This includes talking on the phone when you are driving your children to and from their various activities. Though it may be a fitting time to make phone calls, pause a moment to think about the message you are sending your children. Turn car time into talking time or listen to music that you all enjoy.
Transitioning from work to home can be challenging. Arriving home after a difficult day’s work – or even a normal day’s work – can be overwhelming. Take strides to create a “winding down” habit that works for you. Use your car ride home to listen to relaxing music, a book on tape, or just to decompress from the day. Take the train or the bus so you can read for pleasure on the way home, people watch, or spend time filing away all of your work thoughts.
Before you walk in the door, make certain you are ready for what awaits you on the other side. Sit in the driveway for a moment and take some deep breaths. Shift gears and anticipate your “to do” list for the remaining hours of the day. Put on a song that invigorates you and gives you energy.
Balancing work and home life is not easy. Families will benefit from a mom who has learned to draw lines between these two chunks of her life. It may require your diligent efforts, but the return on investment is high.