Do you suddenly find yourself working from home with kids? I have worked from home for almost two years. I’m the first to admit, add kids into the house during working hours and it’s very hard to stay productive. Now with the current COVID-19 situation around the world, more and more families are confined at home. Below are some lessons I’ve learned in the last two years to help keep everyone on task and sane.
1. Keep a schedule
Keeping a schedule for everyone in the house is the most important thing you can do. Establish your own office hours and set a schedule for your kids as well. In our house, our schedules are posted so everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing at all times. Our youngest one is still learning to read and tell time, so we have timers that go off on the hour during the day. This helps him switch from one task to another. When it comes to your kids, try to keep their schedule in one hour blocks at a time. 1 hour of lessons, 1 hour of reading, 1 hour of chores, etc. That will help keep their attention span and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed. Also, post your own office hours for them to see. When the day starts, tell the kids what conference calls you’ll have that day. While you’re on a call, it’s a good idea for the kids to spend some quiet time reading in their bedrooms. Also, tell them what times during the day they can come to you with questions. They can save any questions they have for this specific time, so you’re not getting a knock on the door every five minutes.
2. Quiet time
After several weeks of quarantine, you’re likely becoming a little stir crazy being on top of one another all day. Now, more than ever, it’s important to designate quiet alone time for everyone. Set aside a block of time for each person during the day to reset. Whether it’s a video game, reading, bubble bath, or legos. It’s important for everyone’s mental health to have some independent time. To stay productive while working from home with kids, have the children’s quiet time, align with when you’re most productive with work. I’ve always found I’m most productive in the mornings, so 9am to 10am is a great time for the kids to read on their own.
3. Separate spaces
If working from home with kids is new to your family, it’s very important that you establish boundaries. Designate your office or work space and designate their school space. If your kids are old enough and responsible enough, having these two spaces in separate rooms is most ideal. After a short time, the kids will get used to working when they’re in their school space and you’ll be in the right mind set in your work space. If possible, during this time, keep these spaces to their primary use only. You and your kids have dealt with enough change lately. Constantly changing where you’re working from, will just create anxiety.
4. Stay patient
Working from home with kids is a new situation for many people right now. And with something new, there is always going to be a lot of unknowns. You don’t know how you’re going to get your work done remotely. You don’t know if you’ll be able to get all your grocery shopping done. And you don’t know if you or a loved one is going to become sick. Now with kids, they’re going to have the same, if not more anxiety, without a way to express it. They don’t know when they will see their friends again. They are missing birthdays. They’re struggling with online learning for the first time. And they’re seeing their parents worry. Anxiety will often manifest into irritability, so siblings will start to bicker more and you’ll be less patient with each knock on the door. Try your best to stay patient and show each other love. Some day soon this will all be over and we’ll get back to normal. Until then, try each day to appreciate all that you have to be thankful for.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Try to remember that this is new for everyone. Some days will be a struggle. Your kids will struggle to stay on task and you’ll struggle to keep your patience. If some days you have to resort to cartoons or devices to keep your sanity, that’s okay! You are a good parent and you’re trying your best in really challenging times. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve got this!