Working from home can be convenient but it comes with challenges of its own. Having a quiet space to work in where you don’t get distracted and can set a routine to focus on your goals can be very tough. You have to manage job responsibilities while your children continue with their usual frolicking around, adding a new dynamic to your possibly just-new job environment. With your kids on extended breaks from school and sharing the same space as you, it’s much easier to get distracted. No matter how clearly you specify the goals you’ve set for yourself, you can’t expect your kids to comply with them the same way you do.
So how do you find that balance of being able to respond to your kids when they need you while still accomplishing your daily tasks?
Here are eight tips to help you stay sane and keep your kids happy.
SchedulingYour kids may already have a schedule, where they fit in all their playtime and chores. Think about when they’re most likely to want or need your attention and plan your day such that you’re able to work at times when they don’t need you as much. If they’re too young to occupy themselves with something while you’re busy, you may have to build your own schedule around theirs. This might mean waking up earlier to get your work done, taking a break during their most active hours, and then returning to your work once they’ve gone to bed.
Make PlansHaving a vague idea in mind of how the day should go isn’t enough. Plan out each day’s schedule and show it to your kids, telling them that you’ll all have to work together so that you can finish up on your work, and they can stay busy or productive with their studies as well. Write down the schedule and invite your kids to decorate it as an activity so that they can familiarize themselves with it more. Post this schedule somewhere easily visible and try to follow it as closely as possible.
Regular BreaksTaking regular breaks while working is healthy anyway, but they can also help you manage the needs of your children. Tell your kids you’ll be taking regular breaks every hour, and stick to the plan. Pay attention to your children during the break and engage with them so that they know they are not being ignored. At the end of the break, tell them that you have to get back to work but that you will be available for them again soon. You could try to take a 15-minute break every 45 minutes, or a 5-minute break after every half hour of work, depending on the age of your kids and the nature of your responsibilities. It may be helpful to have a timer for your kids to help them keep track of when the next break will be.
RecessFor kids in elementary school, recess is an important part of their schedule. Kids aren’t easily able to pore over their books all day and should get permission to go outside and play for a bit. They need time to release all that energy that’s been building up while they were sitting. But don’t forget that you need to get away from your desk as well! Working from home gives you a great opportunity to let this playtime coincide with your break, so you can bond with your kids and release some of that pent-up energy. Recess is also a great way to get through those phases of unproductivity that you get after having spent a long time working. By recognizing that you’re not getting much done, you can use the time to exercise instead.
RewardsKids who are old enough can understand the concept of delayed gratification: that if you work and plan now, you will reap the benefits later. Talking to your kids about the importance of sticking to schedules and getting rewards, later on, can help them calm down. It can also be a good idea to make things fun by planning a surprise and springing it on them when they least expect it.
Personal DisciplineIt’s good for kids to understand that they have to set limits and stay within set boundaries. If you find that they are disturbing you too much while you work, tell them that they only have a certain number of questions they can ask you during your workday. This way, they will be able to prioritize what questions they really need to ask and which can wait until later.
RestingNaps are good for everyone – not just kids. Encourage one another to take naps. At first, kids, teens, and even you may reject the idea of naps, but even lying down for a while can help reduce stress and improve overall focus and productivity.
Reinforcing PositivesReinforcement can come from punishments and rewards, yes, but also from acknowledgment. If your kids are doing a good job of sticking to their schedules and limitations, make sure to let them know! Tell them that you’re thankful that they’re helping you focus on your work and that they’re doing a good job during a challenging time.
With these eight tips, your work-from-home environment can be much more productive and easier to work in. Having your kids at home during their extended break presents an excellent opportunity for teaching teamwork and cooperation while handling this unexpected collision of schedules. By rising together to the challenge, working from home can be a great way for you to connect with your kids and strengthen the bond you have with them.
Working from home with kids can be challenging but also extremely rewarding when you make the most of it and implement these tips.