Avoid Snubbing Your Family When Working From Home – It’s Not Worth It

I have worked from home (on and off) for about 15 years. At first, my family and my dog just didn’t get it. If I’m home, I’m available, right? No. No. And no.

My dog caught on to the new routine in a few weeks. But it took my family a good six-to-nine months before they really understood my needs and stopped taking my silence and brief responses as rude, personal snubs. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about them or their needs, it was just that I was “at work” and I am not a multi-tasker. I get focused on one thing and one thing only. I didn’t even realize how short I may have been with them until “after work.” Then I’d feel guilty.

I knew my husband really understood my needs the day he started writing me sticky notes and leaving them on my door, my desk, my computer, etc. They were always so kind and considerate. And honestly, I never even saw him place them – sometimes right in front of me and whatever I was doing at the time. Did I tell you I was focused? He was like a ghost leaving me love notes. And I was like a horse in a race with blinders on – reaching for my finish line without seeing anything in the periphery.

working from home

My Favorite Sticky Notes

The notes were just questions he wanted to ask me, usually for me and our family’s benefit anyway:  like… would you like chicken or fish for dinner? or some other thoughtful message. Many times he was just looking for a chat, a hug or some simple affection. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, what a total B, she doesn’t deserve that kind of man. True, I don’t. He’s amazing. But he’s mine anyway.

If I had to do it over again, I’d communicate a little more about expectations upfront – with the whole family, including your spouse. Maybe you can hang a small “do not disturb” sign on your office door (or on the back of your chair). Talk regularly with your kids about when it’s okay to interrupt mom and when it’s not. Hire an in-home nanny for blocks of uninterrupted time. And, I’d set aside a couple of scheduled breaks to check on the family here and there…and give your dog a hug too. After all, it’s not a race worth winning if you screw up your most important relationships along the way to success.

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