“Whaa, Whaa,” screams my 4-month-old at 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM, and then at 5:00 AM comes our morning wake up call, “Mommy, daddy where are you”? Since my husband works from home, he gets my 2-year-old out of bed so I can “sleep in”.
This is where stay-at-home moms everywhere get jealous, thinking, “your husband works from home and wakes up with the kids?” And while I love my husband, and there are perks to him working from home, there are also drawbacks.
For instance, because he only works from home when he’s not traveling, my daughter has developed separation anxiety. When daddy’s home, she only wants to be with daddy.
That’s difficult when daddy is in the next room on a business call, and it’s mommy’s job to contain my “spirited” child. Or when he’s finished with his business call, and my daughter’s in timeout for her “spirit,” and he offers her some fruit snacks.
Add to the equation that I’m trying to run a business from home, and you can only imagine the battles in my house over space, time, the computer, and who’s going to make dinner or clean up the toys.
Through some trial and error, here are a couple of ground rules we’ve set as work from home parents
Set Some Boundaries
I’ve learned when two parents work from home; setting boundaries become even more important. If my husband has a flex day, I go upstairs to work or even down the street to a coffee shop. If he’s home, but he’s “WORKING,” he goes outside on our back patio where he stays until lunch. This way, it’s clear to us and to our children who’s in charge. I’d add here setting working times for each parent is essential, but, if you’re like us, a 9-5 workday just doesn’t happen, so, instead establish small periods where one parent is in charge so the other can work.
For example, this morning, I had a database issue on my website that needed immediate attention. My husband had some follow up calls and emails, but nothing imminent, so he agreed to give me two hours to troubleshoot the issues. Then I took over the rest of the afternoon.
When you set boundaries, set them for your children as well. Our daughter has had to learn when we’re on the phone, she has to be quiet, and for the most part, she works with us. This translates well for her at preschool when her teachers ask her not to talk while they do circle time. Our 4-month-old hasn’t taken the hint from his sister, but clients typically understand when we have to call them back (as long as it’s not a reoccurring theme).
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Being on the Same Page
This brings me to one of the hardest topics for parents: Discipline. If you think disciplining children is difficult, try having to discipline them while simultaneously disciplining your spouse for not disciplining the children the same way you would. This doesn’t work. My daughter was getting confused on what her punishment was for what action, and we were still fuming after she went to bed.
Instead, we’re trying to talk about different strategies for misbehavior ahead of time and implement the technique the same way. It’s an ever-evolving conversation because our toddler is always coming up with new ways to get into trouble.
But we just adopted a new philosophy about the timeout. Instead of warning our 2-year old, we both just say, “Timeout: throwing, or timeout: attitude!” at which point on a good day our daughter sits in her timeout chair for a few minutes.
Whatever method of delivery, being consistent with discipline, is essential when both parents work from home. As positive as having two parents in the home can be for a child, it can also be confusing. Be on the same page, and don’t waver. Your child will feel more secure when they misbehave and get the same consequence, and your spouse will feel more confident when they see you have their back.
While working from home gives us greater flexibility as a family, it comes with its own set of challenges (which we’re learning how to navigate). If you and your spouse plan to work-at-home together, I highly suggest establishing some ground rules ahead of time, so that you can actually be productive during your workday.
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Katie Newingham is the Editor-in-Chief of www.NewbyMom.com, an online magazine dedicated to inspiring moms to reach their personal goals while being engaged parents.