As someone who works at home, it's important for me to have a space where I can set up my work-related tools and accouterments. However, as a work-at-home dad, it's also important for me to have a place where my son and I can do activities and play games together.
Finding this balance wasn't as easy for me as one might think, but now that my son is four years old, I've finally found the balance.
It's called the "dual desk" setup. Here's how it works.
The purpose of my dual desk is to allow myself to work while at the same time supervising, entertaining and teaching our four-year-old son. The process in itself can be a challenge, and finding a place and setup that allows for this pairing of activities is an integral part of making my dual roles a success.
Finding a Spot
We tried several locations for our dual purposes, and I can tell you first hand, using the bed is not conducive to good productivity for either of us, especially when the television is close by. This spot may be warm and cozy, but I found it was more conducive to naps and lounging than working and learning.
Since we don't have an official "office space," we tried the living room for a while, but again, the presence of a television often led to daddy, son or both being distracted by cartoons, the news or other programs. Therefore, we made another attempt in the kitchen, using the larger kitchen table as our workspace. We found that this spot worked well, as there were few, if any distractions, and it was convenient for daddy's duties of making and serving breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Defining spaces at our dual desk work table is important. While I do my best to split the table down the middle -- making it half my work space and half my son's -- it typically ends up working out more like 80/20 in his favor.
Still, it's important to at least make an effort to define our areas in an attempt to make our worlds a little more organized and keep things on track when it comes both to my work and his learning activities.
This leads to the next aspect of maintaining the dual desk space.
Staying Organized and Clutter Free
Keeping our dual desk area organized and clutter free is by far and away the most difficult aspect of this setup. And there's no way I'm going to attempt to keep it clutter free on a daily basis.
As most parents with four-year-olds know, this just isn't likely to happen. Add to this the fact that the kitchen table is often a dumping ground of sorts for newspapers and the daily mail, and we're just amplifying the disorganization that happens here on a regular basis. Therefore, by pairing my twice weekly efforts to clean, reorganize, sort and throw away, with making organized piles of workbooks, teaching supplies, my work supplies, and a few toys, I somehow work the chaos of objects scattered around our dual desk into some sort of order.
While it's not a perfect situation, it happens to work out quite well for our needs, pairing my need to work with my son's need to learn and be entertained. Plus, I figure that it's a great lead up to him sitting at a desk at school, which he's going to need to become accustomed to sooner or later.
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The author is not a parenting expert. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or parenting advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.