Working From Home With Kids
Don't let the title of this blog post confuse you, I am not advocating that you work from home without childcare. I'm addressing those moments when childcare arrangements fail---or there is a worldwide virus outbreak, and it becomes necessary to temporarily work from home with your kids.
The suggestions I’ve listed are just that suggestions. All kids, all families, all work is different, and how it all fits together is best figured out by an expert, like you. Yes, that’s right---I called you an expert, because you are an expert when it comes to your family.
Here are the basics of juggling kids and work at home:
Create a shared office space. Sometimes just being near you can minimize anxiety for kids, so they are less likely to interrupt you. Plus, when they do interrupt you don’t have to leave your work area. Click here to learn more about my shared office space.
Create safe, age appropriate spaces. This is not the time to teach kids what they can and can't touch. Order inexpensive baby gates to keep smaller kids away from danger. Safe spaces will minimize frustration for everyone.
Use timers to help kids ages 3-10 understand when they can and can't interrupt you. They will learn to watch the timer, rather than ask you if you are finished. Start with 20 minutes and see how your child does, you can move up or down depending on their age.
Give them 20 minutes uninterrupted time with you at the beginning of each day. This will help with your guilt, and it will fill their little mommy or daddy tanks.
Take the time each morning to plan the day. Things to consider when it comes to scheduling your day:
- Prep snacks and meals
- Prep toys and activities, use bins to organize
- Schedule calls or important tasks during nap time or during a favorite TV show
- Use screen time sparingly and when you are most productive or need to concentrate
- Communicate office hours to coworkers, of course not everyone can work around your schedule, but it’s worth a try
- Plan appropriately for difficult toys like dough or paints, if you are really stressed just say no, they will get over it
- Plan and enforce clean up time in between activities. It only seems like you can get more done if you allow all the toys in the house to be out all at once; the reality is that a big mess is overwhelming for you and your kids. When the timer goes off take a few minutes to interact with them and help them transition to a different activity.
Remember to give yourself some grace. List out what you must accomplish each day and focus on getting just those tasks complete. It’s not possible to finish the same amount of work at home with kids as you would in an office without them. Allow time to play and interact with your kids. You may end up with some very good memories of what could have been difficult times. Remember you are not alone and no one else is doing it perfectly. Whenever I would be on the verge of losing my mind with my three boys, my mom would remind me to “just get through it.” A few days of eating cake for breakfast, or a little too much screen time isn’t the end of the world.
And finally, if you have a child like my middle son, none of this matters. No amount of child proofing will keep that child safe or allow you to accomplish even the most basic tasks. All I can say is eventually that child will grow up and he will move across the country and you will miss his antics so as my mom once said, "just get through it."
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