Children (and Spouses) – 9 Tips to Avoid the Interruptions

If you are a home based business particularly with a family, you probably struggle regularly with a variety of interruptions.

Here’s the classic scenario.  The children are fed and sitting in front of the tv for a movie.  You sit down to get some serious work done in the 90 minutes before the movie ends. Not 15 minutes into the movie, one or more of the children comes running in to tell you their sibling just hit them.

Or maybe this rings home – You get the kids set to work on their homework before going in to call a client when your husband comes home needing to tell you about his horrible boss.

When working from home, interruptions aren’t an if, they are a when.  So really this post is more about how to MINIMIZE the interruptions than how to avoid the interruptions.

Children (and Spouses) – 9 Tips to Avoid the Interruptions

Now mind you, the very best systems will be the ones that are practiced with consistency and created uniquely for your family, something that can be done with some coaching help.  If at first, it doesn’t work, that just means you may needs to fine tune the system and get some individual guidance.

Here are some basic steps that everyone can use to minimize or avoid the interruptions that occur in your busy household/business.

  1. Set Boundaries – Setting boundaries is a critical step.  This applies no matter what age your child/children are.  I’ve been a WAHM since my boys were 5.  I was employed WITH a home based business as well before that.  I would determine what my working hours were and what my family hours were.  Sometimes this required flexibility but the boundaries were always there.
  2. Share the Boundaries – This is even more important than setting them.  Make sure everyone in your family is clear on what your work/family boundaries are.  You may have to get creative with this and add a RED|YELLOW|GREEN sign to your office door (or kitchen table) for the younger children.  Red means don’t interrupt unless someone is bleeding or the house is on fire.  Yellow means you can interrupt but make it brief.  Green means I’m not really working on anything important so feel free to come in.  My boys have been trained since they were young that, if I have a phone to my ear, do the silent check in to see if I’m available.
  3. Reward Appropriate Behavior – Even your spouse could use a reward.  Think massage, foot rub, or, well, you know! For teens, good rewards can still be effective when phrased as though not a reward. “Once I have completed this project, I’ll take you to that movie you’ve been wanting to see.”
  4. Get support – Engage your spouse, a family member, neighbor or fellow WAHM to occupy the children for a period of time while you can get clear, focused work done.
  5. Short Duration – Your work time should be in short durations, no longer than about 45 minutes.  This is best for you and for your children.  Once you’ve gone 45 minutes, check in with your children and see what they need.  Then you can resume your work after a 15 or 20 minute play time or homework review with them.  Use a visual timer of some sort for younger children so they know when you will again be available to play with them.
  6. Plan Their Time – For younger children, find ways they can spend the 45 minutes without you entertaining them.  Have a “work time” toy box of special things they only get to play with while you are working. Give them a longer activity or project.
  7. Educate While You Work – One of the greatest gifts being a WAHM allowed me was the opportunity to teach my children about the work world on a daily basis.  For many of the tasks I did, I could teach them little things as I was completing my work.  As they grew older, I was able to then pay them an extra work allowance (which is tax deductible in certain circumstances) to do some of this work for me.
  8. Inform – Information is key.  Whether for our spouses or our children.  The more they know, the better they help.  Children can learn more about the value of working when they see that mom doesn’t drop everything to rush to their every need but that she is there when they most need her.  Take time to share what your business means for them in an age appropriate manner.
  9. Consistency – Like anything new, there will be challenges before you see significant improvement.  Stick with your plan and play it out.

I really can’t say it enough.  The idea is to create a system and be consistent.  If you aren’t consistent with what you set up, it won’t work.  It’s that simple and the reason I’ve seen most WAHM’s fail at this particular part of balancing their business and family life.

What are your favorite creative ways to tell your family you are busy right now?

Nicole Bandes

Nicole has scaled her own personal mountain to climb out of ordinary. For over 20 years, Nicole Bandes has studied the most effective methods to increase happiness and success in her own life and in business. She has gone on to helped thousands of people in their own personal journeys to reach their goals. Contact Nicole if you are ready to stop being ordinary and have a guided tour to reach your summit of success.

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14 Responses to “Children (and Spouses) – 9 Tips to Avoid the Interruptions”

  1. Tawnee says:

    Yes I think you are right, the key is a system, which I clearly do not have in place. Thanks for the tips. Hopefully I can get something together.

  2. These tips are fantastic! My 4 year old daughter is going to love the colour-coded signs that I will put on my office door – hey, maybe she can even MAKE them for me while I work. Thanks for sharing these tips – I love being a WAHM but definitely need some help with the interruptions!

  3. Sarah says:

    These are all very good tips. My children are still very young and take 2-3 hour naps during the day, which is when I like to get a majority of my work done. However, I know that wont always be the case as they are forever getting older :-P My husband also works from home most days, so we trade off with the children, I get mornings to play with them, and he gets afternoons to play with them. Thank you for your time and consideration in putting this together.

  4. Rob Scott says:

    Setting a system in place, and sticking to it, is the best way to work from home. If the people around you know the rules and boundaries from the start, then as long as you enforce them you’ll be well on the way to a peaceful work environment

  5. Nicole Bandes says:

    Sarah, that’s a great time to start! As they start to get older, you can make sure to teach them about the boundaries you create. It’s far easier to start when they are still in the napping stage than having to teach them new rules once habits have been established.

  6. Nicole Bandes says:

    Great idea to have her make the poster! Consistency. (Have I said that before?) ;)

  7. Jenny says:

    Great tips Nicole! I’ll definitely be taking some of your advice–now to figure out some tasks I can delegate to my kids LOL

  8. Great ideas. Wish I known of some when my son was young.. yet we managed [most of the time]…now what I really need is an idea of how to keep kittens from interrupting me…and nope – there is no door :-)

    Lynn

  9. Great advice. I don’t work from home anymore, since my kids are grown (or at least in college). It’s a real issue to set boundaries but have the ability to cross them when the time is right or needed.

  10. Nicole Bandes says:

    Um, cages? Just kidding. I have a dog (3 actually but only one that loves me enough to bug me while I’m working) that is also a challenge. It’s quite hard to resist that cute face when she’s nudging my arm off the keyboard!

  11. Nicole Bandes says:

    Thanks Roy! It is a challenge but not something that can’t be overcome with a little work!

  12. Excellent tips, Nicole!

    I saw the link to your post over at Michelle Shaeffer’s Facebook group, “Successful Work At Home Women”. :)

    I’ve been a single mom for the past twenty years — don’t have a spouse who wants to share a story about his horrible boss while I’m trying to get some work done. And my youngest daughters are 20-yr-old twins who have WAY too much going on in their own lives to give a hoot what mom is up to. LOL!

    But my children weren’t always adults, ya know. I can remember it like it was yesterday when four little girls competed for my attention … and I couldn’t manage to get ANYTHING done! Finding a moment of peace and quite meant enjoying it at 2:00 o’clock in the morning. :)

  13. Nicole Bandes says:

    Thanks Melanie. Much appreciated! Hey, if you know anyone still raising those kids (or husbands) and working at home, send them this way!

  14. Nancy Rose says:

    great tips! I agree on the short duration, since they should be able to find something to do in that timeframe. It gives them trust in themselves when they can spend time without help.