Hi! I’m a mom of a tween and two teenagers. And I work from home.
That’s my introduction to myself every morning as I glance in the mirror as I attempt to get my life together to start the day. Yes! The struggle is real some mornings.
Working from home with older kids requires balance and boundaries. If I’m honest with you, I thought it would be easier to work from home with older kids than younger ones. It is in some instances, but there are still hurdles to navigate.
Balancing work and family
There’s the misconception that because your kids are older, you have all the time in the world to work and be available all hours of the day and night.
Your older kids need and want your attention too. As they get older, they need you in a different way.
My kids know my office hours. They know that between those set hours I’m working, and they need to respect that time. But that doesn’t mean that I’m unavailable to talk to them. If they have a question, I am available to chat. If one wants me to look at or do a quick Tik Tok, darn skippy, we’re going to do it.
Working in a block schedule for work helps out with this a lot. The kids know you will be knee-deep in for x amount hours, and then you’re taking a break for x amount time. The block schedule has helped me not lose my mind with work and help me be present while the kids are home.
STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER! It’s ok to take a break
Schedule a lunch date with your older child. My tween brought this to my attention a few days ago. If you were working from home during your child’s toddler years, you would make sure you took a break to eat lunch together.
It’s a great time to catch up on what they’ve been doing throughout the day. Granted, your older kids may have just made it down for the day around noon.
If your older kids are doing virtual school this year, schedule a couple of days to have lunch with them during their lunch break. Both of you take an internet break and enjoy one another’s company. Make it like two co-workers or classmates chatting in the break room or cafeteria.
Free up evening hours
Working from home makes it a little easier to keep up with the laundry. You can toss a load or two in the washing machine as you work through your day. That’s a major bonus of working from home.
Working from home with older kids brings on another bonus. You can delegate household chores to your older kids. Working from home doesn’t mean you have time to do anything you want, but it does come with some flexibility. Flexibility to get some simple things done around the house – dinner started, laundry, etc. You still have other chores to complete, so why not have the older kids help out. That way, your evenings are freed up for family time.
Set Boundaries and keep them
Setting boundaries in my professional life is something I’ve always struggled with. My personal life, not a problem.
You will get a “NO” or me telling you that your text message or FB message was NOT answered after 8:00 p.m. because ALL of my phone notifications are automatically turned off.
I mentioned above that I make my children respect my office hours. However, as parents and working from home, many don’t make our work respect our family hours.
In most cases, it’s not the company you work for, but it’s the ease of checking one more thing before dinner or checking for that last email before the weekend. And what happens every single time? You find yourself working, and you justify it by saying, “oh, my kids are older. They are ok.”
And yeah, they may be ok. BUT you are setting an example.
Set that hard stop time. Do so by setting yourself an alarm. Don’t get caught up in the “oh, my kids are older” thought.
Working from home without kids, with little ones, and with older kids requires some planning and boundaries.
And oh! Older kids can be loud. So remind them about your conference calls before you log on. They will bust in with some craziness and have your entire team wondering what’s going on up in your house.