Welcome to the typical American family on a weekday evening.
Honey, I’m home!
I just left the office 23 minutes ago, my boss was a total jerk today, traffic was a nightmare, I am two days behind on a project due next week, but I am home and all here, Honey.
Yeah, right. Give me a break.
Sitting in my counselor’s office recently, the topic of coming home routines came up. I’d mentioned an event from the week prior that will have a lasting positive effect on my family.
The Birth of my Coming Home Routine
Between our garage and side door to our house is a breezeway. I caught myself coming home from awful day at work and when I closed the door to the garage and stood 12 feet from the next door, I made a decision…to smile and greet my family like I was excited to see them (because I was).
No “I’ve had such a rough day, so I’d like to disengage for the next four hours, please.”
I decided to put on my proverbial “dad/husband hat” and make them the center of my world for a few hours. And it was a great few hours.
Since then, that is part of my coming home routine. No matter how awful my day has been, that moment in the breezeway changes it. And I keep perspective, because I always have that to go home to. When I shared that with my counselor, we began an in-depth discussion of coming home routines.
You probably have a “going to work” routine. It starts when you wake up. You pray, meditate, workout, shave, shower, and generally get motivated for the day ahead at work. In the car on the way you think about what you have to do today, listen to sales tapes, or practice an upcoming speech.
In short, you transition to “work mode” and are ready to hit the ground running when you get to work. But few people do the opposite.
If you don’t, you are shortchanging your family. You need to develop a coming home routine.
How to Develop a Coming Home Routine:
- Choose a timeline. I didn’t say, “determine how long it takes you to get home.” I said, “choose a timeline.” That means if your commute is only 10 minutes but you need 25 to wind down, take 25. See #4 for what to do with the extra time.
- Develop a end-of-work trigger. Do something that signifies you are officially leaving work for now. For me, it’s turning off the computer. I am done at that point.
- Leave business calls at work. Unless there is a compelling reason not to, stay at work longer to take a business call rather than have the call on the road home.
- Disengage from work. Allow yourself some time (it varies depending on the person) to completely disengage. Listen to a favorite song, listen to silence, talk to your best friend, talk to no one, go to a coffee shop, do anything to completely disengage. My counselor said that one CEO she knows does just that. He goes to a coffee shop and enjoys his favorite coffee for 15 minutes in silence, then goes home. Every day after work. Allow yourself to breathe and be free for a moment.
- Prepare to engage. Just like you might listen to sales tapes on the way to work, plan your work day or practice your speech, this is the time to think about how your want your evening to go. Listen to podcasts or books on CD about marriage and family. Plan how you want to talk to your spouse about your day. Plan how you want to approach your son about how his day went.
- Take the long way home. If you need a few extra minutes and are able to take them, do so. I’ve driven past our house before just to have a few extra minutes to get ready for my family.
- Develop a I-am-home ritual. My counselor said that one guy always touches the same plant as he enters. Another always goes to check the mail. That touch and that walk are their rituals.
- Greet people like a dog. When you get home, reaffirm your decision to smile and be excited. This is an exciting time! Act like. (Read: Greet People Like a Dog)
- Try it for 30 days. Decide on a routine and try it for 30 days. Then tweak it from there.
Do you have a coming home routine? What has it done for you and your family?