I always prided myself on being able to balance home and work without being rigid. I’d congratulate myself for getting the laundry done or the dinner made between work tasks.
Then it all got too much. Work was bleeding into the evenings and I wasn’t getting going on paid jobs until mid-morning because I was finishing up home admin or emptying the dishwasher. I told myself home always came first – but somehow, everything was becoming a blurry, unsatisfying mess.
So, on the advice of a wise friend, I tried boundaries. Working – and only working – between fixed hours. Doing home-related tasks – and only home tasks – in set times too. I know, you’ve heard this suggestion before. It’s hardly rocket science. Call me slow, but I finally realised that this time-honoured advice actually works. I was flying, clear-headed and amazingly productive.
For a whole week.
Then the boy was home from school for a few days and I went back to an endless mixed-up mash of emails sandwiched between story-reading and working in front of kids’ TV to keep him company and lessen the Mummy-guilt. And I knew that, for that week, that’s the way circumstances meant it had to be.
But I also knew that, once we were back to normal again, the boundaries were definitely coming back into force again. They help me to think clearly. They comfort me by saying, “this task you are doing now is exactly what you should be doing at this moment. This is home time. (Or work time.)”
I can recommend it. Boundary your time. Don’t do laundry at work or check email at home. It seems so simplistic and obvious – perhaps too simplistic and obvious to work – but it works wonders.