Wow, our lives have changed in the past few weeks. Working from home is now a requirement for almost all of us (except those in essential services – thank you for what you do). Not only are we working from home but our kids are at home with us. Many of us don’t currently have childcare either.
Our kids are either doing remote schoolwork or hanging out inside on a super extended break. So how to handle all of this?
Here are some tips for working remotely with kids at home.
How to Work from Home with Kids
Cut Yourself some Slack
This is the first tip because in my opinion, it’s the most important.
Working from home with kids underfoot is stressful, challenging and difficult. There, I said it.
While I love to have my son by my side and I’m blessed that he’s here, safe and healthy he does make it hard to get anything done.
He’s a chatterbox and whether he’s talking to friends on google hangouts or messenger kids or just on his own, he’s talking and often loudly. On the daily I find my patience being tested trying to keep him on his schedule and trying to get my stuff done.
If he has too much screen time, not enough outdoor play time or is playing lots of video games, we have to give ourselves slack and realize this is an unprecedented situation.
I watched a lot of tv as a kid and ended up with an advanced degree and I know he’ll be fine.
Tag Team with your Partner
If your partner is working at home with you tag each other in.
Sometimes you go to the quiet area of the house (if there is one) and other times your partner goes to the quiet area.
We’ve been doing this around zoom calls. When I’m in a call I try to go to our home office and my husband comes downstairs and hangs out with our son.
Of course not everyone has this option but if you do, I say go for it.
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Get Outside if you can
This advice goes for both you and your child.
If you have a backyard or a balcony – use it.
Maybe consider having a conference call while on a walk (make sure to follow social distancing protocols). That way you can get work done and get some exercise in.
Designate a Specific Area for Work
This tip also applies to both parents and kids. When working from home it’s helpful to have as much of an office set up as possible. That way all of your work related stuff is in one spot rather than all over the house creating loads of clutter and disorganization.
As a parent, I’m constantly being interrupted while I’m working. My son needs a snack or can’t access something in his online classroom almost every five minutes it seems.
I’m trying to take each break away from my laptop as an opportunity to clear my head and get up.
During your normal work day you’d be getting up and going to the break room, having quick chats with fellow co-workers etc.
It’s not as though you’d be working the full 8 hours in the office so why expect yourself to work the full uninterrupted 8 hours when you’re working from home with your kids in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic.
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Talk to your Manager
As a manager, I’m doing my best to be accomodating of different people’s schedules and responsibilities and given the circumstances, I think many people would do the same. All you need to do is communicate honestly and directly with the people you report to.
Depending on what you do, it may not matter if the work gets done during the regular work day or if it gets done once your kids are in bed.
In all work situations, including this one, being honest and open is key.
Don’t Over Promise
I think it’s fair to say that you likely won’t be able to do as much at home with the kids as you would in your office. As a result, don’t over promise and then fall short. If you can’t get a project done within a specific deadline, tell your team and your manager.
This is a much more mature and effective way of dealing with a situation than promising to get something done and then not getting it in on time.
Support your Coworkers
If you have older kids or are lucky to have a nanny or caregiver around to help with the childcare responsibilities then try to support those co-workers who may not have those options.
Kindness and accommodation go a long way especially in circumstances like these.
I hope you’ve found some of these tips for working from home while parenting helpful. Who knows how this will change our society and the way we work in the future. We may find ourselves working remotely a lot more than we did before the current pandemic.
Please share any tips you have for working remotely with kids!