Q: “Denise, the summers are always chaotic for me because I work at home and the kids are at home. I have a home office, but my space isn’t always respected. But I only had to deal with it during the summer. However, this summer, my mother moved in with us and she does not respect my space. I have talked to her about the importance of letting me work while I am in my office, but she still pops her head in multiple times per day to ask if I want more coffee or to share the latest gossip. If I had a place at my brokerage to set up shop I would, but it isn’t set up like that. What do I do?”
A: The first thing I would do is sit down with your mom and set up some rules regarding your office space, the hours you are not available and the visual cues that you can use to indicate that you are at work. For example, you might say that you are working and cannot have any interruptions between 9:00 am and noon. You will come out for a quick lunch sometime between 12 and 12:30, but then you are back in the office and unavailable until 5:00 or whenever you want that uninterrupted time.
Then I would have a visual cue such as closing the door with a note on the outside indicating that you are at work.
However, your mom might be bored. I would make sure she is getting the mental stimulation she needs during the day. You didn’t indicate why she lives with you but if there is a medical reason, making sure she has the support and care she needs during the day is important. Is she involved in any hobbies, groups, etc? I would explore those options with her so she is excited about her day ahead. That is a win-win.