If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last couple months, youve probably seen the viral video of BBC dad.”
In case you missed it, heres the clip that captures it all.
The professionalism of BBC dad, professor and political science expert , suddenly juxtaposed with the carefree entrance and confident swagger of his young daughter in her adorable yellow sweater, the baby rolling in right after, and the mother frantically and heroically sliding in to save the day, knocking her husbands books off the table and finally reaching out of the hallway to slam the door shut as she and the kids exit its all so perfect. You couldn’t choreograph this kind of comedy.
For us parents who work from home offices, this is our worst nightmare. We’re already sensitive about not being in a professional office environment and don’t want anyone else to know. I work from a home office in Shenzhen, China, have young children who are home most of the day (my wife and I homeschool), and I do a fair number of interviews, so I know exactly what Mr. Kelly was feeling the moment he heard that door open.
Here are seven ways Ive found to manage being a stay-at-home professional and a parent with minimal fuss, and prevent kids from making an appearance on live TV.
1. Use a dedicated space
Trying to work from your kitchen table or the living room sofa while other family members come in and out is a non-starter. If you dont have a dedicated space to work in, create one, and make sure it has a door.
2. Lock that door!
Mr. Kelly will never, ever, forget to lock his door again. An open door is an invitation for children to enter and begin a conversation or start tugging on your arm, no matter whether youre working in Photoshop, typing up a blog post, or being interviewed on live TV by the BBC.
3. Train your kids
Sometimes locking the door isnt enough to prevent every form of interruption. It may prevent a visual appearance, but kids can make plenty of noise banging on a home office door and asking for mommy or daddys help. Teach your children that when the door is locked that means the parent is working and shouldn’t be disturbed unless there is an emergency, and no, when your little brother takes your Pokemon cards that is not an emergency.
4. Put your home office on the far side of the house
If you live in a small apartment there is no far side of the house, but where possible put your home office far away from bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and other active spaces. The more isolated you are at home the better for remaining undisturbed.
5. Soundproof your home office
Thick carpeting and soundproofing material on the walls will eliminate echoes in your office, but if you want to prevent noises entering your office in the first place, start by getting a solid-core door and putting some along the bottom to block that big crack.
6. Set clear expectations and boundaries
I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my family, every day, at set times, and I work in between. My kids know I get off work at 5 pm each day, and that until 5 pm rolls around they’re not to disturb me. Since they know when Ill be done with work, it makes it easier for them to resist the temptation to enter the office during the rest of the day.
7. Start early
After reading by Hal Elrod I began waking up at 4 am each morning. Since Im based in Asia I schedule interviews and calls with the U.S. during my early morning, which is late afternoon for New York and other cities on the East Coast. The morning hours are the perfect time for me to work without distraction or noise, since my children are soundly asleep. There is also less noise from outside.
Bonus Tip: Roll with it
Despite our best intentions and diligent preparation with our home office setup things go wrong. Kids barge in or bang on the door, somebody flushes the toilet repeatedly in the bathroom that shares a wall with your office during your podcast interview or important client phone call, or your thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of fighting and tears. Thats life as a family, and its more fun if you learn to laugh at it and not take things too seriously.
To BBC dad and all the other parents trying to juggle a home office with family life, I salute you.
Josh Steimle is the author of Chief Marketing Officers at Work and the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the US and Asia, and despite being over 40 can still do a kickflip on a skateboard.