5 Things I Have Learned as a Work From Home Dad
When my first daughter was born my wife and I made the hard decision that I would stay home with my daughter. At that time, I was working part-time and weekends, but we were having a tough time making ends meet, which lead me to create a profession working from home. Six years in, I am still learning how to be a work-from-home dad with two kids, a business, and a house to look after. Though there is still a learning curve, I feel comfortable enough with my position now to share these 5 things that I have learned from being a work-from-home dad.
Patience is a Virtue
This is one that I still struggle with every day of the week. I am not a patient man and I have a short fuse so when I get stressed my patience flies right out the window, and the ugly truth is that working from home is a lot more stressful than it sounds. I am slowly realizing that few things in this life are worth stressing out about and nothing is so important that you can't take two seconds to answer a child's question. I am not going to lie and say that I am a saint, but I am trying to live what I have learned and it is slowly getting better. Honestly, being patient with your children, your dog, the jammed printer, whatever it is, leaves you with a sense of calm instead of regret when the situation is finally over - and the situation will always have an end, believe me.
Plan for Things to Go Wrong Because They Will
I am not trying to be a Negative Nancy here, it is a simple fact of life. There is a reason why "What can go wrong will go wrong," and "The best-laid plans of mice and men," are common phrases in the English language. Kids will get sick, the internet will be out for 3 days, and the house may or may not catch on fire one or two times. The important thing is to keep your head about you. Working from home is walking a constant tightrope and when you let one of these mini-disasters derail you it can mess up your workflow for weeks. Have contingency plans for everything and always try to stay one step ahead on your current work so you can take an emergency day off if needed.
Create a Designated Quiet Space
I can not stress enough how important it is to have a designated quiet space in your house. Anyone who has a kid knows that they can be quiet all day, but the second you pick up an important phone call they are in your ear or running past you screaming at crystal shattering decibels. Creating a designated quiet space like an office or bedroom sets boundaries for both parents and kids. The kids know ahead of time that if you are in the quiet area they need to be quiet or be somewhere else and you know that if you have an important phone call you need to retreat to the designated quite area. I always let my kids know about 20 minutes ahead of time that I am expecting a call so they know where I am and to follow the quiet room rules.
Treat Work Like Work
Something that I used to be and, (who am I kidding?) still am bad at is treating working at home like a real job. There are a lot of benefits to working at home like setting your own schedule and working in your pajamas, but those benefits can also be drawbacks. It is easy to run and do a load of laundry or fill the dishwasher, or fix that creaky step, anything to procrastinate from any real work. Treating work like a real job with a half-hour lunch break and two fifteen minute breaks help to keep you on task and be more productive. Of course, your kids don't keep that schedule so there is a balance between being a parent and being a worker. Hopefully finding that balance for you is easier than it was for me.
Always put Your Children First
A job is a job and money is money, but your kids will only be kids once. The day to day grind and working to keep the lights on can be incredibly stressful and make you lose sight of what is really important in your life, I know it did for me for a long time. The fact is that if you work hard and keep faith, the lights will always find a way to stay on. Even if it is your busiest day of the year, find time to stop what you are doing to help your kids with whatever they are doing. If they don't need help stop to tell them how much you love them, they can see how hard you are working and they will also recognize that you took time out of your busy day to acknowledge them. It will stay with them forever and that kind of investment in the future is immeasurable by any means.
I am definitely not perfect, and still have a lot left to learn. These lessons are ones that I am just starting to master, and I am sure that there are many more that I can't even imagine yet, especially since my kids are still young. I hope this piece helps other work from home parents to learn from my mistakes and create the perfect environment for them and their families. Thank you for reading.