So you’ve been working at home for years and your set-up is perfect. You finally figured out a way to self-discipline yourself and get your work done while being in the comfort of your own home. But have you ever had to do it with your family members hanging around? Much less kids?
Due to the coronavirus and social distancing, many of us and our families are suddenly having to work from home, but our kids are home too. Kids of all ages including daycare to elementary to middle school to high school and even college students. We are all learning about how to work together as well as play every day.
You will need to work as a family to come up with the best plan and routine possible. It will go much smoother if this is a conversation your entire family has to ensure sure you will all stay safe and healthy.
Communicate expectations. Communication is of course always an essential part of healthy family relationships. Communication is really a part of staying healthy. You need to make sure you are actively communicating with your children of all ages of what you expect of them. This way your children will have direction on what it is they need to be doing the entire day.
Communicating with your work is also important and essential. Set work expectations right with your coworkers and authorities so they understand your circumstances. This way there is no assumption when you have to mute a phone call to take care of a crying baby.
If you can, find resources to help with childcare when needed. Since we are practicing social distancing we understand that this won’t be applicable to everybody. However, if you have an important meeting find someone close to you who can help with kids on site. Whether that be your spouse, older kids, family or trusted neighbors.
This can even be done virtually. Have one of your children call and have a virtual play day or conversation with grandparents, babysitters, uncles, aunts, friends, or teachers.
Have activities on hand that don’t require your supervision. Depending on the age of your children these activities will look different. Also, remember not to be so hard on yourself, your kids will probably have more screen time than usual and that’s OK. Try to make it educational with shows. Baby Einstein or PBS has many options. If you have older kids try educational shows or anything that’s positive and uplifting. This could be nature, America’s got talent, funniest home videos, etc. You can also have them play video games or activities virtually that keep them socializing online with their friends.
Prioritize your schedule. Now that you’ll be working from home your most productive hours will probably be different than usual. This means if you have uninterrupted time during the morning, focus on the most important things on your list. If you have work to complete in the middle of the, set your kids up with unsupervised activities and try to break your projects up in 30-minute increments.
If you have a partner at home, chances are they are with you. Try working with them to split up your time to babysit and work. Once the children are in bed, you could both spend a little more time working.
However, if you are a single parent, clearly communicate expectations to your children and your employer. Having flexibility from your employer to address the needs of your children will help reduce stress in your work environment. Really communicating all of your needs during this time is essential to a successful experience.
Don’t forget to set boundaries. After you have a conversation with your employer about your new situation you will need to start setting boundaries at home. Have a dedicated conversation with your children about what working from home means. Let them know it means that they cannot hang out with you the entire day. They will have to find their own activities. Let them know if the door is shut to your room they are not allowed to come in for any reason besides an emergency.
During this Quarantine, you should have weekly family meetings and planning. Set the rules and expectations in a formal setting. Express to your children how important it is that they follow these rules. Before important meetings or phone calls, you can steer your kids towards more calm and relaxing activities. Such as puzzles, coloring, and playing with Legos. This will help them to play quietly and keep positivity in the home. Don’t forget to reward good behavior.
It would be a good idea to set up a reward system based on good behavior during this time. This could be anything such as a special treat, their favorite TV show, or possibly picking out a new toy.
Make the rules very clear and remember to stay calm even if your kids do interrupt you. You may need to pause what you’re doing and address the problem. However, once you’ve handled the situation, finish your work, and remind your children of the rules. When your children don’t interrupt you, reward them and thank them for all their help. This would be a good time to spend a little extra time with them by playing a game or reading a book. With older kids, you can reward something that they would appreciate.
Get creative! Take time one evening a week to create activity boxes. Fill these boxes with activities the kids can do by themselves. You can use our caddy organizers as a way to create theme boxes. Art projects, glitter projects, or any kind of craft you can think of that are age-appropriate. You can shop our Caddies HERE.
An important step to working from home is taking breaks. Since you’ll be in the same space for 24 hours a day, it is important to break up the hours with breaks. Work for an hour and then take a 10-minute break to hang out with your kids. You can help them with tasks or this can be a moment where they can ask for your help with something. Turn on some music and get out of work mode for those 10 minutes.
The last tip we have is to stress less. Don’t worry about what is normal. Nothing is normal right now. If your children are doing more screen time and less playing they will be OK. Try not to stress and remember during this time it is important to keep harmony in the home. After working it would be great to offer some non-digital entertainment for your children. This way if they are using screen time to allow you to work during the day turning to board games after work is a great way to have balance.
This time is going to be likely uncomfortable and difficult for many families. Remember to keep in mind that working from home, although a challenge now, can keep many people safe and we’re all in this together. And you may find that working from home is ideal! No commute, savings on wardrobe and food and other advantages. Who knows, you may want to ask your boss if you can stay home permanently ;)