There is a special sort of challenge juggling day-to-day life when you work at home, and both my husband and I work out of the house. Which means not five minutes can go by without someone wanting to ask us a question, which does not work well with productivity.
We started out by telling the kids that if we are at our desks, it is “emergencies only” but if we come upstairs, then they are free to ask us whatever is on their mind. But it felt rather strange because if we happen to be at our desks for a 2 hour stretch and one of them wants to go play outside or needs help reaching something, they shouldn’t have to wait if we aren’t doing something that requires our 100% concentration.
We struggled to find the balance between “emergencies only” and “reasonable requests” for a very long time.
It took a chicken to help us solve the problem.
The other day I had been thinking maybe, like the old bachelor with the tie on the doorknob, that we need a signal. A signal that clearly defines whether we are available for “emergencies only” or “reasonable requests”. And I happened to have a foam chicken sitting on my desk.
So we explained to them that they could interrupt us at our desks for “reasonable requests” unless the chicken was sitting at the top of the stairs. If the chicken was there, then we are available for “emergencies only” while we are working. More often than not, we don’t actually use the chicken, because we don’t want to over-use it and have it lose its value.
It’s a weird little system but it actually seems to be working.
If you work from home, have you developed a system or signal to help your kids understand when you need some dedicated work time?