Setting boundries for work and home

03 October 2013

It took me a while to understand the importance of setting the boundaries for my home life and work life and also deciding where the meeting point will be. I had to go back and review my life priorities before I could set boundaries.

To give you a bit of background, for work I'm physically in the office 8-5 on weekdays. I am however "on call" round the clock including weekends. As a single girl and even when I was married with no kids, I had no problem taking my work everywhere with me. Now that I have kids, work has a box it has to stay in. Conversely, I cannot use motherhood as an excuse for less than professional behavior at work; so I have to set boundaries. Here's an example of what my boundaries look like

Boundaries For Work

  • No working on weekends except for emergencies
  • No working on weekday evenings when the girls are awake. Anything that has to be done happens after their bedtime - and oh, that includes blogging stuff as well
  • Shut it down at least 10 minutes before closing so I pick up the girls on time
  • Does this drill sound familiar to you. 2 days before your vacation starts, something happens that "may" require you to cancel your plans so you can fix it. No!!!! Be inflexible about cancelling previously arranged family times for unexpected work demands. Unless you're Marissa Mayer (and if you are, you wouldn't be reading this), the company stock price is not going to dip because you took a vacation.
Boundaries For Home Life
  • No bringing my kids to the office. If they have to be home, then I take the day off or use my vacation days
  • No bringing kids' stuff to the office (strollers etc stay in the car or the daycare)
  • Never, ever, ever show up for work with the remains of the kids breakfast or random bodily fluids on my clothes. There was a time I carried spare clothes in the car for backup
Where the 2 may overlap
  • Office Christmas parties for the family
How to make it work
  • Let the relevant people at know you have kids. Tell them at appropriate times or place a picture of your kids in a visible part of your space even if you are not a picturery person (I'm not)
  • Be unapologetic about having reproduced or adopted a little human that needs you. All human beings started out young! Some workplaces can be very hostile towards women with families. Grow a thick skin to it. Your kids are too precious for you to be apologizing for their existence and priority in your life
  • Use an end-of-the-day alarm. A friend of mine gave me this tip. When she worked with a boss who was very fond of late afternoon meetings she started setting an alarm on her phone for 10 minutes before close. When the alarm goes off in the middle of the meeting, "sorry boss, I have to pick up my kids from daycare". The boss got it fast!  
I know I've sounded preachy the last few days but that's not my aim. I really would love to hear about your experiences with balancing motherhood and a job outside the home.

I'll be writing about being a working mother throughout October and sharing my personal experiences. Emphasis on personal. I realise that everyone's situation is different and what works for me may not be the best for someone else.

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