When I began my consulting practice, a major reason for choosing to work from home was being able to spend more time with my son who was 11 at the time.  Then the school year ended and summer started.  That experience is the source for this week’s Lesson Found.

Anticipating that summer, I thought my son would entertain himself while I worked.   This “logical thought” was quickly challenged by reality the first week of summer vacation.  As I worked, I could hear my son gaming on the Xbox.  Guilt immediately set in.  Then, when I’d spend time with my son, I was distracted thinking about work needing to get done.  This just magnified the guilt.  I call it the “Summer of Cognitive Dissonance”!  Since then, I’ve talked with other parents with home offices and all expressed exactly the same thoughts.

One Lesson Found is recognizing this cognitive dissonance never fully goes away but there are ways to alleviate it.   First and foremost is setting the ground rules for your home office.  Year-round, the home office space should be designated as a professional work zone.  Whether this is a dedicated room or shared-family space, you need to “train” your family to recognize when you are “at-work”.  This could, for example, include setting a schedule and/or posting an “at-work” sign.

Training family requires effort and will power on your part.  This means resisting temptations to respond to questions from children (or spouse), refereeing fights between siblings or solving other problems within the household.  Be consistent and clear that anything other than “threat to life or limb” will wait.  You’ll be amazed how much gets “fixed” without your input.  Having a hard time resisting?  I found my noise-canceling headphones to be indispensable!

Of course, children cannot be totally dismissed. There are, of course, the obvious alternatives such as camps of many varieties and lengths as well as regularly scheduled play dates.  (Some public parks even have free, semi-structured programs with counselors.)  Another activity harks back to last week’s suggestion for short walks to alleviate decision fatigue.  Grab your children to join you for those walks or even bike rides.  If you really want to get the creative juices flowing, head to the nearest playground and take a ride down the sliding board!

What is your favorite summer activity to do with your children?

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? I would love to hear about it. Comment below or send me an email to let me know.