Kids in the Home Office

A home office of one sort or another is a vital part of working at home. Some people manage to have an entirely separate room for their home office. Mine is a more or less dedicated room… unless you count all the kids’ toys right behind my chair, on my desk, under my feet…

It’s hard to keep kids out of the home office, especially when it doesn’t have a door. I’m not really sure what to call the room my office is in. It’s just off the dining area, but there’s no doorway as such; the spaces are open to each other aside from a wall less than two feet long.

Life has definitely become easier in many ways since we got a second computer. My son is too young to understand computers, but he sure likes to scroll around Google Earth. My daughter loves to play games on Noggin and similar sites. Letting the kids use the other computer gives me more time to work.

At their best, however, they’re still a major distraction. That’s the way I like it, though, since I am well aware that I am working at home so that I can be with them. When my son is on the computer he regularly wants me to cuddle him (toddlers are so sweet). My daughter often wants help with the games she plays, and I have to decide when to help and when to make her try to do it herself.

For some work at home jobs, of course, you need much more peace and quiet than I have. I don’t have to worry about background noise. If you have to worry about background noise, you really don’t want to be in a room that cannot be closed off from the rest of the house.

If you need peace and quiet, set up rules for when the kids are allowed to interrupt you. How strict these rules are depends on exactly how quiet you need things to be. If it’s a case of no background noise on a call or you lose your job, you’d better keep that rule pretty strict. On the other hand, if you can pause your work easily, but really need it quiet to get things done (as is the case in medical transcription), you can give instances where interruptions are allowed.

One of the best ways to get the kids out of the home office is to have something to distract them. If it’s just you and the kids, nothing will work for very long, but if you can have your spouse help, you can get long stretches of work done in relative peace.

On those days when I really want to get things done and my husband is off work, I have him take them out of the house. There’s no better way to get a quiet office than to have a quiet house.

Alternatively, I send the kids to play in the back yard. They’re young enough to still need some supervision, but my office window overlooks the back yard. If my husband is around, that’s his job.

You’ll never have a quiet home office if you don’t insist upon it. Figure out a way to get quiet work time and you’ll come to appreciate how much more you can do without interruptions.

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