Working from home?

Ok moms and dads. I know it’s not easy.

I’ve been a stay-at-home work-from-home Dad for almost 10 years (I quit my 9 to 5 in 2011).

It is not always easy (it was downright impossible at the beginning), but it has become one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. 

Working from home was difficult early on because I was still operating in an old paradigm. Work, family, school, church, hobbies, etc. were all compartments in my life that were separate from each other. I expected to have my quiet and clean workspace and plenty of uninterrupted time to do my work. Maybe that’s fine when you don’t have kids, but try it when you’ve got six.

And so my unmet expectations drove me crazy at first. I tried to clearly define work times and not-work times, but after a while I realized that I was still boxing myself in to a 9 to 5, when in reality I had all the freedom in the world. 

I’m constantly battling between the desire to be efficient and productive and the desire to be a patient and present dad.

I’m a husband and a father and I love my family. I’m also an achiever. And so I’m constantly battling between the desire to be efficient and productive and the desire to be a patient and present dad.

There’s a great book Keesha and I read last year called Home Grown by a guy named Ben Hewitt. Listen to this quote by Ben, “Many parents aren’t all that accustomed to being patient and present for their kids anymore, if only because they’re simply not given the opportunity to be patient and present. Jobs get in the way. School gets in the way. After-school activities get in the way. As I have learned—as I am still learning—patience and presence are muscles that must be developed and exercised regularly.”

So I want to give you a couple quick pieces of advice about working from home that I’ve learned along the way. It’s not about how to be efficient or productive. It’s not about staying organized, or maximizing your time, or setting goals and hitting deadlines. You’re smart enough to figure out what works for you. Perhaps it’s rising before the sun gets up or working late into the night after the kids go to bed. At the desk rather than the coach, tea instead of coffee, the appropriate music, headphones, etc. There’s plenty of ideas out there to help you be more productive working from home without loosing your mind.

My work-from-home advice for you is about peace. It’s about creating and maintaining a spirit of peace in your home. So here are 3 things I want to encourage you to do to help maintain peace while working from home.

  1. Be realistic. Define realistic expectations. If you tell your spouse, “Honey, I need to get a solid 10 hours in today, so you’re on your own with the kids.” Uh no, that’s not gonna fly. Keesha and I live by a more organic approach to parenting and schooling. Now, we don’t lack all structure in our home, but we don’t dictate everything either. We have frequent family meetings where everyone has a voice, and we determine together what our days look like, what our responsibilities are, etc. In the family meeting, it’s okay for the kids to know what Dad does and what he needs to get done. They need to know your expectations, but you also need to be aware of theirs. Define realistic expectations for this season and for each day.
  2. Be patient. Conflict will happen. Guard your heart. Be humble and patient. Get over yourself and be a servant. Cook meals, clean up, model for your family what it looks like to be a peaceful human being. When you blow up at them, humble yourself enough to apologize and make it right. 
  3. Be present. Be inconvenienced. What will your kids remember when they look back on these days? The conference calls, the blowups, the slammed doors, the headphones, the endless hours staring at screens? Or will they remember the board games and the cooking together and the blanket forts? Strive to be present. Cherish this time with your family.

Working from home is hard. We fail a lot, but we can at least fail forward. I know what kind of dad I want to be. I’m not always that guy, but each day I think I grow a little more into that man. So as we work from home, school at home, and actually live at home, during these crazy times, let’s strive together to be patient and present parents.

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