What busy parent isn’t completely guilty of thinking about work during family time? All of us who parent would be lying if we said we have a good handle on that issue. I’ll admit, even when I feel like I’m consciously putting a good effort into staying in the present during family time, I’m failing miserably. This became so much of an issue for me that I decided to do something about it with a proactive mental plan for myself.
Committed Commute Time
When I say “committed commute time”, I’m referring to proactively committing yourself to using your commute time getting to work, as the time you engage in thinking about any work related issues. Issues which could easily plague you mentally during off hours with your family. For me, just knowing I have that time set aside for those thoughts helps me to keep them at bay until my commute time arrives.
Designated Response Times
In my world of three part-time jobs and family, times for work are very staggered. I end up with time in between jobs that often very well could be interrupted with emails, phone calls and texts. If I allow these to become an opportunity for communication engagement, I’ll often find myself still engaged in these responses an hour later. This then is followed by a deep sense of frustration, loss and what feels like wasted time, although it wasn’t truly wasted, just spent on something other than my family.
I prevent this by avoiding any responses other than at times of absolute necessity, or in which my kids are at school, in bed, or with their father at his house. I’ve personally declared my own time with my kids as “off limits” to texts and emails unless the kids are somewhere else or in bed.
Physically Removing Yourself
Not every work related issue can be stopped from invading family time. Sometimes, there’s just no way to avoid certain work related problems while having family time. During those times I find it helps to physically remove myself from my family and find a quiet space or area of the house where I can focus on problem solving or find a solution to an important work issue. During these times, I’ll have my oldest child become the person in charge while I take care of my business. This way I can concentrate on the work issue, then return to my family later with a better focus.