I heard something on TV recently, of all places, and I thought it was worth passing on because the truth is, when you do work outside of your family, regardless of what it is, it is tough to ‘be home’ and leave that work at work.
I don’t usually watch tv. However, Don was watching the Equalizer, and I was baking cookies so I could see and hear the television. The series centers around Robyn McCall, a single mother with a mysterious background who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. In this episode, Robyn was having a hard time letting go of the case she was working on, to focus on her teenage daughter.
Robyn was working with a detective from the police department who seemed able to leave work at work even though people’s lives hung in the balance. She asked him how he was able to turn work off so that he could BE with his family the way he did? His response was terrific. The detective said that he had a ritual when he arrived at home and stood inside his doorway. “I hold my keys, feel the weight in my hands, and remind myself that I am home. Then I hang them up and am present with my family.”
Robyn stood inside her front door, held her keys, and looked at them in the final scene. Then she shifted her weight, hung up the keys, yelled, “I’m home,” and walked towards her daughter.
A tip to help you leave work both physically and mentally
When it is time to end your work and be with your family, have family rituals, systems, or traditions that you engage in. Rituals, systems, or traditions work the same whether your job is outside the home or your job is in your home. These rituals, systems, or traditions can pull you back into your family.
One of my friends is a very successful entrepreneur. She has a great deal to do each day, and her office is in her home. Ten minutes before her kids come home, she shuts the office down. Next, she prepares for what she calls ‘hugs and tickles.’ As each child arrives home, there is a tussle of tickling, hugging, falling on the couch, and rolling on the floor. This activity changes the tone of the day for this mom. Then she asks about school, gets kids to do their homework, and thinks about dinner. Later in the evening, she may have an appointment or call, but she will have spent at least 3-4 hours of quality time with her kids.
Another mom has a 9 to 5 job. She is a manager, and it is stressful. But when she arrives at home, the first thing she does is drop her purse and go to each child and hug them. Then the family prepares dinner and sets the table. They work as a team. They each share what was great about the day and what wasn’t so great at dinner.
If you work at a job or run a business from your home, then it will help you disengage if you have some activity you do consistently that lets your brain know that, at least for now, you are home and your family matters. Of course, there will be days that don’t go as planned and days when you don’t have it together. But if you can put your system, tradition, or ritual in play even a portion of the time, it will make a big difference in your ability to be present and work on family relationships.