Work from home may seem easier, but balancing work and family life can take its toll on anyone. We have tips for parents who are working from with kids, and we hope these would help you.
Working From Home with Kids | Doing It Right
For much of the country, schools and workplaces closed over 2 months ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, states have announced the official canceling of the remaining school year, making distance learning and quarantining an even longer-term solution.
New work from home parents may have adjusted to a workable, if not unusual, schedule that included their kids’ distance learning on tablets and computers as an important element of their workday. Keeping the kids busy and engaged is the perfect time for important calls that require full attention and minimal interruption.
But with many summer camps closing or limiting enrollment and school assignments coming to an end, working from home during the summer months is looming. How do you effectively work from home when your kids have no schedules to follow and most activities (including playgrounds and libraries) are still closed?
1. Communicate Clearly
If you don’t explain your situation, no one can know what it is. That refers to your spouse, your boss, your co-workers, and your kids.
Your employer needs to know that you have kids at home and this will affect your ability to work. It may also interrupt conference calls!
Your spouse needs to know your schedule so that you can have the time you need when you need it. And your kids need to know what times are off-limits to interruptions outside of emergencies.
2. Set a Realistic Schedule
If your kids are young, it’s highly unlikely that they will be able to happily entertain themselves for 3 or 4 hours at a time. A more realistic schedule is for you to work in 30-40 minute blocks and then take a break with your children.
If you have the benefit of a supportive spouse also working from home, perhaps you can take shifts of 2-4 hours where you each get time to work away from the kids.
3. Set Up Zoom Play Dates
If you have a separate tablet, computer, or cell phone that your child can use, arrange for online play dates.
It doesn’t have to be a friend; grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can also provide entertainment for your kids – whom they probably miss.
4. Accept that Screen Time Will Increase
It’s not ideal by any means, but TV and gaming are reliable ways to keep your kids quietly busy for hours at a time. Try to be selective about when you fall back on screen time, and make sure there is a time in your house when ALL screens get turned off – including your own.
After a long day of working in your home but away from your kids, you’ll need time to reconnect with them in the evening.
5. Set Up a Designated (Private) Office Space
This may sound like a no-brainer, but plenty of parents set up shop at the kitchen table or counter and think they can have the best of both worlds. Instead, you will find yourself trapped in the worst of both worlds.
The dishes from breakfast will be staring at you and you will hear every conversation or line from a movie. You will be tempted to step in at times when the kids could probably figure things out themselves.
By separating yourself physically, your work will benefit from the quiet while you benefit from separating yourself mentally from your role as “mom” or “dad.”
6. Reward Kids for Good Behavior
When your kids impress you, let them know! Positive reinforcement will help perpetuate a healthy work-life balance. But on the flip side…
7. Try Not to Freak Out
There will be days and times that working from home with kids is NOT working. Try not to totally lose it. This change in routine is hard for your kids too, and you’re not alone in this boat. Be forgiving with your kids and yourself.
In many ways, this situation is unique and will hopefully only occur once in our lifetimes. The perfect storm of closures and social distancing have created a few options for working parents.
Be realistic in your expectations and communicate with everyone in your life to try and get through this with your sanity!
Are you working from home with kids? How are you coping? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!