For some of you, the challenge of working from home with your kids is nothing new. But for others, Covid-19 threw you into this new life, and you’re just trying to survive until it’s over.
Either way, finding a sane way to juggle kids and work from your home is a real challenge, and it requires an awe-inspiring balancing act.
I know you didn’t expect to join the circus, but here you are! Time to keep all your plates in the air. Follow these tried and true ways to find success while working from home with your kids in the house too.
Lay the Ground Rules
If this is new territory for you, remember that this is also new territory for your children. You need to explain the situation to them in a firm but exciting way.
You don’t want to let out any anxieties that you have during this chat because children pick up on that easily. They can adopt that attitude as well and it will come out in their behavior. This certainly won’t help you be productive.
Explain to your kids the significance of this new arrangement and that you need to work. Unlike when you would come home after work, they won’t be able to have your full attention.
Let them know that this isn’t because they aren’t important enough to warrant your attention, but that you need some time to get work done, or no money for fun!
Do your best to set up a system that works for you. When you are on the phone, tell them to play the quiet game. Perhaps teach them to categorize their needs into groups before they make an official request.
For example, you can present them with a series of situations. Then practice having them group the scenarios in a “when you can get to it,” “pretty urgent,” or “emergency” categories.
Once they understand the difference, teach them the correct action that corresponds with the need. An emergency always warrants coming and interrupting your work — no matter what.
Don’t Forget the Important Things
You may have a job to do, but don’t forget that your children’s safety and happiness come first. When you neglect the daily necessities that children have, you won’t be able to get anything else done.
Are your kids extra cranky? Did they have enough to eat? Do they need to take a nap?
At times, the most apparent reason for unruly children is that they require their basic needs like food and sleep.
If you know, they are fed and well-rested, have you spent any time that day with them?
Schedule time every day to devote to your children.
You may wonder how you’ll fit all this in one day. But if you give your kids small moments of undivided attention, you’ll find more significant chunks of time that you can devote to working.
Have a Home Office
Find a place in your home that you dub your work zone. This is important to do for several reasons.
First, it keeps essential docs out of little hands. You can use a file cabinet or locked drawer for these particular papers.
Second, it allows you to work without too much distraction but still be accessible to your children. Of course, depending on the age of the children, you may not ever want to let them out of your sight.
In that case, set up your work zone in an area within view of your children but still designated. This lets your kids know that you are in “do not disturb” mode.
Work While They Sleep
Sleep is a beautiful thing, especially when it involves sleeping children. Take advantage of this quiet time to get in the bulk of your work.
Even if this means adjusting your schedule to wake up early in the morning or stay up late at night, this can really help to increase your productivity.
Don’t forget about nap times, too, if they are still young enough to take naps.
Don’t Make Demands, Offer Choices
There may be times when your children test your patience. As parents, we revert to barking orders at this point. Do you best not to fall into that trap.
Instead of telling them what they have to do, give them a choice between two or three things that still help your situation.
For example, instead of saying, “Go to your room!” say, “Would you like to play in your room or color in the kitchen?” This makes them feel like they made the choice and weren’t forced into anything, keeping them content.
It always helps to offer plenty to occupy their time. Invest in a varied amount of games and activities to entertain them.
Don’t forget how well incentives work. Give them delayed rewards like, “If you play quietly for 30 minutes, I will read you a story.”
Children and Parents Thrive on Structure
When you conduct your work and home life in the same building, it’s crucial that you create a schedule and stick to it. This keeps order and balance between the two.
You can delegate the daily chores to kids and your spouse to help take some of the load off yourself.
Don’t forget to schedule recess! This active break is not just good for kids but also beneficial for you as well.
It’s healthy for you to take a break, and it helps kids get out their energy so you can work with fewer distractions when recess is over.
Bring in the Cavalry
When you know that you are in over your head, there’s no shame in enlisting others’ help.
This help can come from a nanny, friend, or relative. You can also use the magic of movie time to keep your kid’s eyes glued to the screen for a couple of hours.
Of course, this only works when you reserve it for special occasions. So if you have fallen behind, make the call to bring in the cavalry or put on the newest kid movie and catch up on those urgent tasks.
It’s not easy to parent and work simultaneously. If you can set up a good routine with some trump cards in your back pocket, you’ll find that it doesn’t have to be stressful.
When you do hit a rough day — don’t despair. Don’t expect the same from yourself at home as you would from the office. And remember, you can always start fresh tomorrow.
Caitlin Sinclair is the Business Manager at Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch. With over five years of property management experience, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She finds joy in helping current and future residents and makes Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch a place everyone loves to call home.