Remote work has transformed the lives of many working parents, providing the flexibility they need to be more present for their families. While there are many perks — no commute, more time with kids — working from home can present challenges when it comes to separating your work and home life.
With our active community of working moms and dads, we knew we would find the best advice from those who are currently in the thick of it. We reached out on our socials, and we were blown away by the amazing tips on cultivating a healthy work-life integration. While each person’s solutions were unique, there were a few key themes that emerged.
Here are a few of our favorites, in the words of our community.
Have a dedicated work space
Of all the advice people offered, having a dedicated work space at home was the most recommended. It makes sense — the best way you can create separation is to actually have a physical separation of your work area. While having an office with a door you can close is nice, your dedicated work space can be anywhere that’s reserved for work and work alone: a guest room, a corner, or even a large closet. Regardless of how you designate your work area, what’s important is that it’s specifically for working. This helps you leave work behind when the day is over and also indicates to your family when you shouldn’t be disturbed.
“Definitely have a dedicated workspace. Make it clear to your family that when the door is closed, mom can’t be disturbed.” - Emily Jean Schmidt
“Don’t work at the kitchen table, if you can help it! Have a dedicated workspace. While the couch may seem like a comfy option, it’s easier to close your laptop and walk away if you’re leaving it on a desk where work-only things happen.” - Jess Miles
"One of the best tips I can provide is to work separately from your bedroom. I didn’t realize how my brain would blur the lines between when I entered that physical space." - Brandy Warrior
Stick to a work schedule
In the same vein as creating a dedicated workspace for yourself, it’s equally important to carve out a specific work schedule and routine — and stick to it. With your office at home, it’s easy to feel as if you’re always “on” and, as a result, able to take care of work as it rolls in. But it’s vitally important to create boundaries and adhere to them. Our community shares a few reasons why:
“It’s so easy to slip into a Saturday morning “oh it’s just this one time” login and before you know it you’re working weekends.” - Marlene Chairez
“Employees shouldn't be expected to be available at all hours because they work from home.” - Rebecca Megay
“Just remember that in 5 years the only ones that will remember that you worked late are your family.” - Destinee Jewell
Time block your day
One of the simplest ways to ensure you stick to your work schedule is to timeblock your day. Structure your schedule around your needs, building in plenty of time for both projects and personal commitments. If your work is flexible and allows you to take time away during the day for things like school drop-off or pickup, make sure you add that to your calendar. Time-blocking provides a clear visual to ensure important things, including time for yourself and your family, don’t fall through the cracks.
Blocking “me time” and having a completely separate space/office where work stays once done." - Caridad DiMiceli
“Blocked out time to pick up my daughter at school.” - Margaret Young
“I also time block my schedule with important tasks for the week and end my day every day with a checklist for the next morning.” - Dani Bernstein
Take regular active breaks
Working from home means not dealing with traffic and being free from distractions that can come from being in an office. However, not having to leave the house can easily morph into feeling sluggish and isolated, if you’re not paying attention. Just as you pencil in time for meetings, make an effort to schedule regular breaks, including lunch. Ensure that these breaks take place away from your desk and workspace. And when you need a change of pace or crave a human connection, meet a friend or go to a coffee shop to work.
"Leave the house! Even just for a walk. A quick shopping trip or to grab a smoothie. Being home is great. Being home for days on end makes for a bad head space." - Anne Cantera
"Always take a lunch. Getting up from your desk and away from emails and meetings is important. Taking a walk or listening to music helps me feel that disconnect that is necessary to come back ready to go." - Amanda S.
Start and end the day with a ritual
Create a ritual that tells you the work day is beginning and ending. Doing so helps put you in the right mindset for approaching the work day ahead of you or leaving it behind to focus on your home and family. Think of this time as your “commute” that once helped you transition to and from work. Our community had plenty of suggestions for how they set their intentions:
“Meditating 5 minutes before and after work.” - Morgan Jessilyn Chiwaga
“If time allows, I like to "reset" my house before getting started each morning. Spending 10 minutes loading the dishwasher or picking up toys helps me from feeling overwhelmed by house duties when I make a trip to get coffee.” - Amanda S.
“Develop an end-of-day routine to signify the end of work. This could be shutting down your computer, making a to-do list for the next day, or going for a short walk.” - Danielle Nunes
“Pay homage to the "commute" time you used to enjoy/endure daily - You know, those precious moments you had to yourself to and from work to jam out to your favorite music or listen to an audiobook/podcast? While you do not actually have a commute, you can budget in 15-30 minutes to indulge in whatever morning routine that works for you to use as your personal "commuting me time". - Destinee Jewell
Give yourself grace
Finally, the best thing you can do for yourself as a work-at-home parent is to give yourself grace. Know that you are doing your best and that perfect is unattainable. The truth is that true balance is not a realistic goal. Instead, consider work-life integration as a concept, one in which the two areas coexist and serve you in ways that are continuously evolving.
“Give yourself grace. Kids bust in. The plumber comes by unexpectedly. Stressing about it only makes it worse.” - Ashley Valadez
Make peace with the fact that your work and home lives are going to intersect - This one speaks for itself, but it is so much easier said than done. It's going to fluster you when your child barges into your office during a pitch, but it isn't the end of the world and if we're being honest, it humanizes you. Giggle it off, guide them back into the supervision of your partner or caretaker and get back on with things. - Destinee Jewell