Working from home right now is a big experiment as not many people know exactly how to go about it. All parents working from home with their kids hovering about will agree that it has not been a walk in the park, and a little help could come in handy.
Below are a few tips that you can pick, test, and, hopefully, make your new normal a lot more tolerable.
1. Change your goals to make them realistic
You are not working from home under normal circumstances, which means that your productivity is bound to be affected. You need to understand that you may not be able to put in as much effort and time as you would have before, and you need to communicate as much to your boss. Make a list of the most vital tasks of your job, followed by the things that you would like to get done, and a third of the things you can only accomplish if you get time.
2. Figure out whether a schedule can work for your family members
Schools worldwide are trying to make learning from home a reality, figuring out who has access to a reliable internet connection and laptops so that no one is left behind. For some parents, attempting to balance working from home and homeschooling seems to be the go-to option. Many tips for parents working from home and homeschooling agree that a schedule might help. Consider setting meal times, yard time, work time, lights out, screen time, and other parts of a day in the kids' lives.
3. Get up before the kids do
There is no better, quieter time than early in the morning when the kids are still sleeping. Waking up early should help you get some high-focus work so that during the day, you can get in calls, answer emails, and do other tasks that do not require too much concentration.
4. Start with your priorities
Start your workday with all the tasks that have tight deadlines or stall other parts of your work routine, then give your kids some attention. By starting with these tasks and then giving your kids their own time, you will avoid disruptions as you do the most crucial work. From there, even if it is five minutes of hide and seek, you will get a break while giving your kids their time.
5. Set up an office space
If you have toddlers screaming everywhere, moving to the couch with your laptop and a cup of coffee will be a recipe for disaster. Your kids will distract you and pour your coffee on your laptop when you turn your back. If you do not have a dedicated study, squeeze in a work desk and chair into your bedroom. This working space will give you some space and quiet for work and video calls.
6. Set up and replenish the snack station
Nothing stresses parents working at home like hungry, irritable kids, so consider setting up snack bars and drink stations where the kids can regularly enjoy something delicious as the day wears on. Teach the little ones how to get water from the dispenser, then create healthy snack kits the night before and place them on easy to reach and child-safe shelves.
7. Draw clear boundaries
Kids are smarter and more considerate than most parents give them credit for, and will be glad to stay away from you if you define clear boundaries. For instance, you can have a conversation with your kids where you say 'when the door is closed do not come in’ and they will do just that. Other parents working from home place signs on the door when they are on a video call so that kids can pause before they come in and reflect whether it is a must for them to interrupt you.
8. Relax the screen time rules
Working from home for parents has become more tolerable due to technology. Your kids can use some of their favorite games, cartoons, and shows at this time. You are allowed to increase their screen time. You can also find educational resources like yoga, exercises, and classes on their iPads that will keep them occupied. To figure out how far you can go with screen time, an app like Screen Time can help.
9. Call on family members for assistance
Parents working at home have found older cousins, nephews, or nieces valuable in keeping the kids entertained every once in a while when work becomes too much. This should give you a break and the space needed to get some crucial work done. Video conferencing can work great for this as they can teach the kids music, art, or chat them up.
10. Remember that your kids are also going through a hard time
All parents working at home must remember that their kids need their attention as much as their jobs do. You need to be gentle with your kids because they are not used to being home for so long. They are anxious to see their friends and favorite teachers again and are just as unhappy as you are about the situation. Give them your support, listen to their whining, and watch for any behavior that suggests that something is not right.
11. There is no one way of doing this right
You must also remember that these are no ordinary times. You are at home trying to make things work during a crisis, and by your best is just about the best way to go. Give yourself a break when you feel overwhelmed.
This crisis is just a phase that, like all others, will pass. By looking at it as an opportunity to see a new side of your kids and interact with them, the challenges you are experiencing will become lighter burdens.
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