February 23rd, 2021
Prior to March 2020, the thought of working from home probably sounded ideal to most. You probably pictured waking up and getting your kids ready, sending them to school, and having the rest of your day focus on tackling your to-do list and accomplishing any work/home-related tasks. Then came all the twists, turns, and plot twists of last year. You quickly found yourself at home trying to juggle getting your work done in a timely manner, assisting your kids with their online classrooms, and trying to stay on top of all the other tasks that come with being a parent.
Staying productive while working from home with children is challenging to say the least. You were thrown into a situation that you were not prepared for and had to adapt to remote work. However, after a few months of having to find ways to make it work and be productive while doing so, there are a few tips that have shown to be beneficial and make the process more enjoyable. The following are a few tips on making the best out of this difficult situation.
One of the most important steps in this process is to make sure that you have a consistent daily schedule that you and your children are aware of. It is important to try and set your “working hours” for the day.
These may look a little different than your typical 9-5 that you would have had in the office, but nonetheless, setting specific times aside that are dedicated to work will help set appropriate boundaries for you and the children.
Make sure your kids are aware of this schedule and teach them to treat it like they would treat a normal class schedule at school. It can be helpful to post this schedule somewhere so they can see it. Take some time to create a poster board with your kids displaying the schedule. This can be a fun way of allowing them to feel like they were part of the schedule making process.
Make sure you plan for some “quiet relaxation time” for the children when they are done with school and use this time as a time for you to finish up any important tasks for the workday.
Your work hours may now have to revolve around your children’s class times. While children are learning remotely, it can become challenging to set all your focus solely on your work. Your work hours might have to be adjusted according to when they have class.
Have a conversation with them and set strict boundaries on what the day will look like. Set aside time every couple of hours where you can sit down with them and answer any questions they might have about their classes, help them with homework, or just spend a little extra time with them that they might need.
Plan your lunches at the same time. This can be a fun part of your day when you and your children can all sit down and have lunch together, unwind, and enjoy some free time.
If your children are at an age where they take naps, try and plan tasks that require the most amount of focus during this time. It is a time that you know you will have to yourself and can quickly knock some important tasks out of the way while you are uninterrupted.
If your children are younger than school age, you will also have to work around their schedule, but it might look a little different. Plan activities they can do independently near you while you are working.
Putting together a little area for your kids that is separate from your workspace but close by so they can play with toys and quietly watch television will help you get things done while they stay busy. Creating appropriate space and setting clear boundaries will help them better understand that the adults are at work.
While reading this you might be thinking, “My kids will never follow along with this every day.” It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself, as well as your children. You know you kids better than anyone and you know how much time is realistic for them to focus on their schoolwork without interrupting you, how much independent play time is likely, and how tolerant they will be of all of this.
Plan for interruptions. If you know your kids will interrupt you quite a few times throughout the day, make sure you are realistic with your own goals as well. One helpful tool can be waking up before the children. This can be time that you have each day to get an early start and accomplish some tasks before the kids are awake. This uninterrupted time can be a way that you can start your day feeling accomplished.
If you are fortunate enough to have family or friends that are willing to help, let them! Asking for help can be hard, but these are times that no one planned for.
Try and work with those around you in setting up a schedule where they can come and assist with the kids or take them off your hands for a couple of hours. Those few hours every day or even once or twice per week can be time where you can really accomplish a lot of work if the time is used properly.
It can also be time utilized for some self-care for yourself. Spending every day constantly trying to get your work done and help your kids get theirs done, all while taking care of them, making meals, and keeping the house afloat is going to be exhausting.
It is crucial to take some time and focus on your own mental health and schedule some time for relaxation. Your mind and body both need it! Remember, you need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of everyone else. Make self-care a priority.
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