Balancing work and family has gotten more complicated now that your email is with you everywhere you go.
Amy discovered a simple, respectful way to check her work email while spending time with her kids:
I'm not sure if this is a hack exactly, but it's improved my ability to balance being present with my kids while also being somewhat available to deal with work on my smart phone.
If I'm with my kids, but I need to check my work email, I say out loud that I'm taking out my phone to check my work messages but that I will be putting my phone away again in a minute. That way, my kids know that I'm not just randomly browsing on my phone, and I feel a bit more accountable to put the phone away again when I'm done.
It's fine to just poke around on my phone sometimes, but without paying a bit of attention to when and why I'm on my phone (letting my kids know out loud), it's easy to spend my time in ways that I really don't enjoy.
I think Amy's hack is extremely important. While in general I'm not a fan of multitasking (and I rarely check email on my phone), I do recognize that sometimes it's unavoidable.
I'm also a believer in the importance of letting our kids see the breadth of work we do, both paid and unpaid. In essence, every day can be "take your kids to work day."
Just a little communication with the kids in this way gets across a number of important things:
- Family time is precious, and work inturruptions, while sometimes necessary, should be explained.
- Smart phones are today's rabbit holes: one can easily fall in. By speaking up, you make a public commitment not to lose yourself to distraction.
- You're modeling the conscious use of time…so important for kids growing up surrounded by electronic attention-grabbers.
Do you have rules (or even your own private guidelines) about using your phone while the kids are around?
Also: I thought hack was fascinating: this family attaches phones to roles (work vs. home), not people.