How Thinking About Work Affects Parents

It happens to the best of us. It’s Sunday night, you’re enjoying the end of your weekend with the family and you get a work email on your phone (or tablet or laptop). In seconds your mind is a million miles away. And while your partner and kids might miss you while you’re mentally “at work,” you might be doing harm to yourself at the same time. According to a new study presented at the Society of Personality and Social Psychology conference, parents who were confronted with money-making issues (such as jobs) while spending time with their kids were more likely to feel that parenting was less meaningful. This was especially true for moms. Though the importance of work-life separation might be obvious, actually doing it is a challenge to say the least.

Whether you’re a work-from-home mom or a schlep-to-the-office-daily mom these tips from work life balance expert and author, Jeff Davidson will help you tune out of work and into family time.

Use your commute to adjust from work to home or vice versa. Davidson recommends using a technique called “completion” to help turn off your work thoughts and focus on home life. To signal that the work day is over, “reward yourself by thinking what’s done at work is done, you did the best you could do.”

You can prevent work-life interruption by letting your co-workers know that you won’t answer emails after hours or on the weekends or by simply not responding. If going M. I. A. after hours isn’t possible for you, “mentally acknowledge the email and make a note to answer it later,” says Davidson. “If you must email them back right away, send them a note saying ‘busy, will get back to you by this time,” he says. Whatever you do, don’t interrupt the activity you are doing with your family.

Create a time barrier to deal with work issues outside of the office. “Each time you switch a task, you’re not doing your best in either area,” Davidson says. Setting aside 30 undisturbed minutes can help you be more productive and allow you to give your undivided attention to your family later.

Use a physical barrier. If you have someone to keep an eye on the kiddos, or if your kids are old enough to be solo, separate yourself from the crew and take care of whatever work issues you have.

When stressful thoughts of work strike, Davidson says to remind yourself of how good you are at work and to reflect on the big picture of you career. “This will help make the email seem less important to your career overall,” he says.

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