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Family Life Today – Top Tips If You Are Working Away From Home
Family life today has been affected by a culture change over the last 20 or 30 years that has meant more and more people are working away from home 4 or 5 days a week. Personally, I’ve had spells where I’ve worked almost entirely from home but I’m currently going through a period where my work takes me somewhere 250 miles away – and I’ve been doing this for almost 8 months. If you have a young family this can be difficult to manage, so here are my tips to keep both yourself (and your family) sane:
- Make sure you keep in touch with home regularly. The phone is the obvious choice but my 8 year old daughter loves instant messaging (Google or MSN) especially when she gets home from school. It is more ‘instant’ than email. A webcam is also a good idea if you have the technology and are perhaps stuck in a hotel room with only a laptop for company. This is a great way to keep up with what’s going on in your family so you’re not playing catch-up on the weekend.
- My 8 year old also loves a bedtime story. We made a character (Sophie) who has a magic bed. When he goes to sleep he can travel anywhere and we make up the story as we go along. Often Sophie travels to places we know, sometimes she visits characters from TV or TV shows – either way my daughter loves the stories and it’s always the last thing she does before going to bed.
- Set your limits at work. If you can, negotiate to work from home (or locally at home) on a Friday and keep it as much as you can. In general, if you set the hours from Monday to Thursday then this will be respected. At least aim to leave the office on Friday at noon so that you have a full weekend available to you.l
- If you do homework on a Friday, make sure you bring home the homework you need to do! (either electronically or physically!)
- Negotiate your time to be in the office on a Monday morning – there may be no need to get up at 4am if you can agree to start late in the morning and move the hours up in the evening.
- When staying in a hotel, the evenings are a good opportunity to put the hours in, catch up with work, etc. If you adopt this approach and are prepared to stay late a couple of nights a week then it will strengthen your case. have Friday at home and a later start on Monday.
- Protect your weekend – if possible turn off the computer/phone and focus on your family
- Join a gym, or find something to occupy you at work. Many gyms you can pay for every month – or do an evening class, go to the local comedy club, or go to the movies (you can get very reasonable monthly passes these days). Find things to occupy your time other than working with the hotel TV, even if it will be walking or running.
- Make sure that if there is a crisis at home you communicate well with your bosses and peers so they know exactly where they stand. If you have to stay at home for any reason or travel home unexpectedly – make sure they are fully aware – in general they will understand as long as they know what is going on.
- Make sure you eat well, exercise and sleep well while you’re away. You want to be ‘there’ for your family at the end of the week – not burn out
- Use the time in the evening to do a self-study qualification – either work-related (e.g. accreditation training) or not (e.g. learning French)
- Make your expenses in good time – they can build up quickly and this will save the anger of your employers and avoid any unnecessary build up of personal expenses – Friday afternoon (if you work at home not traveling) is ideal for admin.
It’s not easy working away from home but often it’s an essential part of family life today, but with tight management and a little thought it can work out well for all concerned.
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