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I Know How to Work at Home Without Ruining Everyone’s Lives

My husband doesn’t know how to work at home. He knows how to work and he knows how to work while he’s in our home but working from home is a skill that requires finesse and not everyone knows how to do it. This morning Mr. G worked from home for about an hour and I realized that one of my talents is knowing how to run a business from home without turning my whole house into a business.

I have some level of mastery. I’ve been working from home for almost 15 years. I am a mother and a wife before I am a business owner. I’ve made a bold statement and an important decision that manifests in small and large ways each and every day.

I have business hours. By and large my business hours are when the kids are in school or camp. This means that most Augusts I don’t work much. When the kids were tiny my office hours were 9 to noon or 2-3 hours when they were napping. If Jane didn’t love her sleep so much as a baby I wouldn’t have started a business. Quite simply put I was bored when she was sleeping.

If you’re working from home and you don’t have business hours you’ve turned your home into a workplace. When you have business hours you’ve taken a corner of your home and created a home office. The distinction between the two is an important one.

I’m the only person in the house who cares about my business. Although I could be on a conference call during carpool time I won’t. I don’t do this because it’s rude and my children deserve common courtesy. I wouldn’t have a girlfriend sit in the car while I negotiated a deal, why would I do that to my children? There’s a myth about women who do it all and their ability to multitask. These multitasking people you speak of are simply shifting their attention faster than most. Don’t mistake multitasking for being present.

It’s insulting to not be the most important person in the room. If I used to spend time with you and no longer do it might be because of your incessant phone-checking. Although cell phones have given us the ability to get a lot of things done on the fly they’ve also allowed work to intrude on our social time. When we share time with another person and are being ignored (even for seconds) so that the other person can check for more important conversations it’s like being pricked with a pin. All those little pin pricks can really hurt.

To be clear it will never upset me to spend time with another parent and have them completely ignore me for a few moments when their child calls. Pick up your phone to check Facebook when we’re hanging out? Done. It’s like we’re at a party and you’re looking over my shoulder for someone better to talk to. My ego can’t take it. Now imagine that I’m four and I’m trying to play a game with my parent who is on their phone. That’s a lot of rejection at four or at 40. More than anyone deserves. More than a child can withstand.

Know your point of diminishing returns. I can work for 3 hours straight with zero interruptions and be incredibly productive. By the time the fourth hour begins I don’t have much left and I really need a break. I can work a six hour day and get a lot done but that seventh hour is useless. I never even try. At different times in my life these numbers have varied, when the kids were tiny I worked an hour or two a day and the days have gotten progressively longer. There’s a limit to what you can do. Know your limit. Enjoy your life.

There are a lot of mompreneurs in my Facebook feed. Many are bloggers, network marketers or affiliate marketers. I’m lucky that cell use was very expensive when my kids were toddlers. The park can be boring, train sets can be mind numbing, putting on a princess dress for the 93rd time in a day would make a martyr twitchy but those are the reasons you wanted to work from home. You wanted to raise those kids so spend the time with them and not with the screen. Raise the kids, be a parent who has a job. It’s really easy to be the parent who turned their home into an office but it can’t be fun to be that kid.