Many parents are finding themselves working from home these days and this is likely to continue to increase as companies realize that they can save a lot of overhead by having remote workers. However, as much as working from home sounds like a dream life, the reality of it isn’t always quite as dreamy. If you’re anything like me and find yourself in a position to have to effectively work from home with children present then it can create quite the challenge.
Most parents have ways we can “distract” our children for periods of time if we need to get work done with a little peace and quiet. But when working from home is an everyday occurrence, it becomes less of a temporary survival mode. You need to get your work done, but it needs to be balanced with putting forth the effort to raise responsible, thriving humans who will eventually be out on their own and maintaining your sanity. Trust me, it’s definitely not easy! Here are some tips to survive working from home with children present.
Create a routine or schedule
While you may not personally thrive on a routine or schedule, most children do. Why? Because it helps them understand what they should be doing and what to expect next.
What is the difference between a routine and a schedule?
A routine is the basic order in which you take on your day, while a schedule is a little more rigid with time frames.
For example, your routine may be that your day begins with feeding the family breakfast, sitting down to read a few books with the kids, and then getting some work done. While a schedule could look the same, but would tell you exactly what times those events happen.
No matter what you choose, a routine or a schedule, if you’ve been working from home for some time you may find that your day already has a certain flow. Maybe not the whole day, but parts of your day tend to go the same way and you’ve already created a bit of a routine.
Make sure that you’re including everyone in the house, not just your own routine. When you’re working, what should the children be up to? Give them their own routine or schedule that works alongside yours.
The beauty of setting boundaries isn’t that you’re being overly strict with the children in your home, it’s that you can give them clear guidelines so that they know exactly what to do in certain situations.
For example, you may set a boundary around your morning work time. During this time you may need to set boundaries that unless someone is seriously hurt, the house is on fire or there is some sort of life-threatening emergency, there’s absolutely no need for anyone to come into your office, AT ALL.
Have realistic expectations
As much as we’d like to be able to work for two hours uninterrupted, if your house is anything like mine, it may not be possible. If you have younger children then it’s unlikely that they will go a full two hours entertaining themselves or without needing your assistance.
When working from home it’s important to set realistic expectations to avoid disappointment or frustration due to unrealistic expectations. Consider your family, your lifestyle, your kid’s ages, etc. and be clear about what you can reasonably expect from working home with your children present.
Be all there
Kids want your undivided attention. We all know this, yet we try to constantly multitask because we have so much to do. But have you ever tried truly giving them your 100% uninterrupted attention even just for 15 or 20 minutes? Not while simultaneously cooking, checking emails, or looking at your phone?
Taking a few small moments within your day to be all there with your kids can make a huge difference in how much they come in to “disturb” your work time. Because you’re already giving them the attention, affection, and love that they’re looking for there’s a good chance they won’t constantly be seeking you out to get it.
Batch your work
While it’s not possible for some jobs, batching your work can be an amazing opportunity to work effectively. With kids in the home, it can be hard to work fully focused for hours at a time the way you would in an office setting. So if you can take the time to batch like tasks during small pockets of time, you may find yourself able to work more efficiently. Sometimes, batching work during early morning hours while the house is calm and quiet works best for me.
Ask for help
Due to Covid-19, this may be a hard one and not always possible. However, if you are in a position to ask someone for help: DO IT! Especially if you have a spouse who is at home and abled bodied. WHY NOT?
If you have friends or family who love to spend time with your kids, you could also ask them to come over and play with them for a few hours. Having the children occupied for a few hours by another trusted adult can offer you the ability to work with little to no distractions or worries.
Surviving working from home with children present can be quite a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Setting clear expectations and putting forth a little planning can make a huge difference in how much work you get done and how balanced and happy your household feels.