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Thread: Self-employed parents: advice about home office

  1. #1

    Default Self-employed parents: advice about home office

    Self-employed parents: Do you have a home office? How have you been avoiding interruptions from your kids?

    For years I've had a home office and for years my kids have kept coming in and interrupting my work and phone/skype calls despite continual attempts at training them to not do that. The same happens for my wife too who also works at home. It's not so bad when they are at school but in school vacations like Spring Break my wife and I often have to keep on working (for financial reasons and due to obligations to third parties) and so we attempt to tag team spending time with the kids so the other one can work. Interruptions aren't so bad if I'm doing some mindless admin, but most of the time I'm doing something mentally taxing and my train of thought gets shattered. I've ended up shifting my schedule to working in the middle of the night, which naturally creates other problems.

    I know some people prefer to have an office in a remote location, but we can't currently afford to do that and also then there's travel time and having to buy another computer and furniture, plus the fact that I'd be out of the house all day which defeats the point of being indie and working at home so I can see my family a bit more than the average 9am-6pm worker. Ideally I'd have a home office that is separated from the main house, but that will have to stay on my wishlist for the moment.

    I know it seems like I want to have the best of both worlds of working at home and being able to do that in peace, and perhaps it's not possible, but still I'd like to aim for that. And thus I am seeking advice from others who are doing this too.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    We do a little of the tagging too. We're all at home, every day - our son studies via distance education and hubby and I share the teaching. I get up super early and check email, do forum rounds, etc, so when I DO get started, I'm not wasting time on that stuff (though winter IS on its way, so no telling how long that will last). Hubby and son do schoolwork in the mornings and when they stop for a break, he heads outside, so I have that time available to do the complex, mentally challenging stuff. After lunch I teach him for an hour or so, then he's off playing so my time is my own again. Maybe I'm lucky in that he usually entertains himself or visits a friend down the road who also homeschools, and most of the interruptions are because he wants me to get something for him, so it's quick enough that I can do it and get back to work without losing my pace. I'll also stop once an hour for a quick break and have a little catch up with them then too.

    I think the best you can do, in order to stay at home, is to stick with the tagging, and make sure the kids know to come to you when it's your wife's work time, and to go to her when it's yours. I don't know how old they are, but if you can find something that they love doing and don't need a lot of help, it can occupy them for ages so it's easier on both of you.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Adelaide, Australia


    Child labor. Put them to work on the business in the holidays.

  4. #4


    Great advice thanks Shaz. Thanks for sharing. Yes we are going to get more disciplined about the tag-teaming side of things I think.

  5. #5


    My current home office is in the one end of the house. There is nothing in this end except the entrance, a bathroom and my office. That helped a lot on disturbance.

    Otherwise - no good ideas that have worked here.

    Full Control
    Makers of Smack Boxing, Smack Hockey, Monster Ball, Electrocute, Touch Wars, Tactical Soldier - Undead Rising

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Isle of Wight, UK
    Paul Johnson

    [Great BIG War Game: iOS | Android] [Great Little War Game: iOS | Android] [Fruit Blitz: iOS | Android] [Yachty Deluxe: iOS | Android]

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Terrace, BC, Canada


    Love working from home. I structure my time around when the kids are home and will often take a break at 4:30 to go upstairs and take a nap in the sunshine on the love seat while everybody watches Big Bang Theory. I quit Cryptic Studios 8+ years ago because I was looking at the normal 60 hours+ work life, tons of commuting and not watching my daughter grow up. She is 10 now, I get up at 8:30 AM, have a bite to eat and walk up the hill behind our house with her to where she goes to school - normal work life would have had me in a car by then, anxious and cranky with all of the other commuters and watching my life slip away. Big thumbs up for working at home, if the kids are noisy then chase them outside for some fresh air.

  8. #8


    You should definitely teach your kids to not interrupt you (unless some very important things had happen). May be something as simple red CLOSE/ green OPEN sign like you find in shops on your door. So, they know when they can enter or not.


  9. #9


    Lock the door and put on headphones?

  10. #10


    @lennard Glad to hear it's working out for your. I also much prefer it to working in an office, but I'm always looking to optimise my experience of working at home.

    We recently started using a red do not disturb sign and that seems to be helping. I can't lock the door because my wife uses the same office, although I'm considering moving mine upstairs to create some distance. A friend has also offered me desk space downtown that I might use a day or two a week, we'll see.

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Leicestershire, UK


    Duct tape. Lots of duct tape. - Independent Game Reviews. - Independent Proofreading Services.

  12. #12


    Give them Minecraft andi/or Garry's Mod + instructions on how to install mods. You'll have to remotely shut down their computers to get them out of there.

    Seriously though, although kids respond differently, I think one needs to keep the gaming, TV watching etc within reasonable limits, and most importantly, observe how they're affected and adjust accordingly.

    Either way, frequent random interruptions are indeed the biggest issue - which doesn't exactly help if one already has a tendency to work late nights...
    David Olofson - Free/Open Source developer and aspiring indie game developer
    Olofson Arcade

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Toronto, Ontario


    I've adjusted my work around my son, such that when he is at school I have a work day, and when he's asleep, more quiet time to compose. But during school holidays and sick days, when I really needed to get work done, I cut the middle ground and found some educational games that really sucked him in and taught him without him knowing it. Jumpstart worked great for such days - - where the quality was high, the content was educational, and it wasn't high-stim junk that riled him up. He enjoyed playing, and talking to me after work about all he learned. I'm sure others could suggest other engaging, guilt-free educational games.

    As for interrupting, as they grow older that becomes less and less of a concern. Sooner than you know it, they will respect privacy and "I'm sorry, I really need to focus on work right now!" time.
    Original Video Game Sound Design and Composing

  14. #14


    I've found waving the gun around pretty much gets the point across....

    I've put my kids to work as beta testers and even game designers before. Kids love to help and love to feel included on projects, so when I've had to have kids around while working on a project I find a related task for them to do. My teens have come up with some really cool looking character designs for me, and you'd be amazed at just how good a 5 year old is at crashing your game that you thought for sure was rock-solid unbreakable.

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