Top Five Tips to Integrate Family Without Sacrificing Work

We had a couple of dads in our Facebook group mention, “Man, how do you do this thing? How do you work from home when your kids are running around and you feel distracted all the time?” So, we’re going to go back and forth. Jeff, what’s one of the things that has helped you guys?

Yeah, so I love this. One really easy one is just make sure mealtimes are with the kids or something like that. It’s different if you have to go into the office or whatever. Everyone is in quarantine right now, mostly. So, I would say, try to have the breakfast with the family or try to have lunch with the family and don’t just functionally put food in your mouth, but just elevate it one little bit. Take five minutes and read a funny joke or a story that you looked up before then or something like that. But activating mealtimes to be a little bit more sacred and special, even if they’re 10 minutes long, 15 minutes long. If they’re intentional, 10 minutes actually is a really strong every day.

That’s good. All right guys, tip number two. When I was taking my kids even to the office, but I would do this when I worked from home as well, is I like to work a schedule of 15 minutes on 10 minutes off when I’m around the kids. So, that really allows me to be a little bit more strict about, “Okay, I’m on.” But every 10 minutes I came out and said, “How are you guys doing? What are you working on?”

Now, when I was taking one of my kids to work every day, this really was critical. So, you can imagine all my meetings ended. Instead of having them back to back, they were 15 minutes long instead of 60 minutes long. So, I had a 10-minute break in between, which is, for me, better for productivity anyway. There is a lot of research around that.

So, during that 10-minute break where I just would need to walk around and clear my head, I always liked to just walk up to, I had one of my kids with me and they were working. Even when they were really young and just working on like homework or puzzles or whatever. And I’d sit down. “How you doing? How’s it working?” You stimulate them a little bit, encourage them a little bit, make sure that they’re onto the next thing before I jump back into my work. So, that 15 minutes on 10 minutes off, that kind of rhythm really worked well for us.

I love that. I’m stealing that one. So, I’m going to start that next week. The next one for me is I call it sometimes hump week or just give every day a name, stuff like that. But essentially what I love about that one is at least have times in the week where you can be dedicated to your work and the kids know it and have times in your week where they know that they’re going to get you all in. Not half on your phone or whatever. So, an easy one for us.

There’s a lot of moments in the week but the big one that everyone looks forward to is Wednesday is our field trip day. So, that always means my phone stays at home, we go out, we go to the park, we go for a walk, we go to the beach. Anything like that, two, three, four-hour chunk. My phone’s not even with me. Alyssa has one just in case something happens or something, but stuff like that. So, then they can look forward to that but then I also can be working hard on Monday and Tuesday because they know that’s coming, stuff like that. So, that’s another one.

Awesome. So, one for me is exercising with your kids in the middle of the day. What a lot of dads do in order to make sure they’re exercising is they do it first thing in the morning, which is great, and there’s seasons where that makes the most sense, but there are also times where it might make sense to do it with your kids. So, integrating it into … for me, I just learned that I start out from all the social activity. I need a break and exercising in the middle of the day really increased my productivity a lot. So, whatever that is for you, you can go for a run, pushing the stroller, take your kids for a bike ride. As my kids got older, I started taking them to the gym with me, things like that.

So, a lot of times, instead of just seeing some of these things as, “I just got to knock these things out first thing in the morning when my kids aren’t around.” If you can integrate your kids into that, that works really well. Friends of ours, the Kruithofs, I can’t remember what their URL is, but Brent and Katie Kruithof have a whole website around how to exercise with your kids that they’ve done. So, you check that out, but that can be really … integrate them into things that they might fit into.

Yeah, exactly. And last one is just roll with the punches and roll with interruptions. It might sound counterintuitive too of what I said, even to that last one, of just like have specific names and days, but the best analogy or word picture I can give is one thing that’s been really helpful for us that has allowed me to really roll with interruptions because it happens all the time. Toddler stuff comes up, et cetera, is never max out your work time with how much work you have. What I mean by that is if you have eight hours to work or something, only do six hours of work or something like that because something will come up. You’ll get tired.

That’s what happens to me. That’s the main reason for me. I just need a break more than I think. Something happens with the kids, something happens with Alyssa, anything like that. Just like money where if you guess how much you’re going to spend on something and it’s $10 over and you have $50 flex, then you’re like, “Oh, well we went over. That’s a bummer. Check it next time.” But if you don’t have that, if you spend right up to what you have, then you get super stressed, and that’s where a lot of times people don’t roll with the interruptions because they don’t have those extra minutes. Now, that takes a lot of practice. Even back to the money example, if every week we’re always spending $10 extra, well then that actually has us not adjusting either, so we need to also go back and say, “Hey, we’re doing that every week. Let’s just say that’s the plan now.” Stuff like that. So, that’s how you roll with interruptions. It’s being adaptable, agile, and dynamic in that sense.

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