The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing have many of us working from home for the first time ever. Making the shift to remote work comes with challenges like learning to be isolated from your team and dealing with your dog following you around all day. While these challenges are certainly a shock to your routine, they aren’t life-altering.
But let’s take it a step further. Some of us are working from home for the first time, but our kids are with us…all day long. This is a major adjustment. You went from an average everyday worker to a remote worker and stay at home parent and maybe even a homeschool teacher with very little warning or time to prepare.
You are not alone, we are in this together. In this post, we are going to address working from home with kids – how to establish the new normal, how to keep them entertained and even how to get your work done in the meantime.
Establish A Routine
Kids love a routine, and let’s be honest – you do too. Your old routine of dropping them off and listening to NPR while enjoying your coffee on the way to the office is on a temporary hiatus. Establishing a new routine will help structure your days, and structure is a great thing for everyone at a time like this.
Create a board with the daily schedule including school work, outside time, chores, naps or quiet time, etc. That way there’s no room for interpretation and you can plan your workday accordingly. For instance, you may decide that since your kids sleep in until 8:30, you can start your workday around 7:00 to get organized and knock out some quick wins before the kids wake up.
Leverage Quiet Time
Do your kids nap? Are they late to bed and late to rise? Are they completing schoolwork throughout the day? No matter when the quiet time happens in your house, use that time for tasks that require the most focus.
For example, I wrote half of this post while my son was napping. When he woke up, it was snack time. After wiping peanut butter off of my laptop twice, I decided I would finish writing in the morning before he wakes up.
Keep Them Busy
Boredom is your enemy. The minute your kids get bored, you can kiss your productivity goodbye. Keeping them busy means they’ll never have a chance to get bored and you’ll need more than just their school work to keep them occupied.
Pull out old toys they haven’t touched in years, bring out your old Nintendo 64 or better yet, now is a great time to introduce that chore chart. Need more ideas? This Forbes article has 101+ ways to keep your children busy during the coronavirus crisis. This Parade article has 125 things to do with kids to avoid cabin fever.
Fortunately, we’re being quarantined in the spring and not in the dead of winter or when we’re housebound due to unbearable humidity. As often as you can, grab your laptop and your little ones and head outside. The fresh air will do everyone some good.
Take walks, play games, ride bikes, blow bubbles, get out the sidewalk chalk, fly a kite, garden, wash cars, literally anything as long as it’s outdoors. The change of scenery will keep you from going stir crazy and gives your kids a chance to burn pent-up energy.
Give Yourself A Break
This one is important. Don’t stress yourself during what is already a stressful time. The last time I checked, there’s no degree that trains you to be a full-time marketing professional and a homeschool teacher simultaneously.
Communicate any schedule changes to your team and give yourself a break. A little extra screen time is okay. A little extra mess is okay. A little extra junk food is okay. We are all in this together and you’re doing a great job.
This quarantine has been a challenge for all involved and working from home with kids can be emotionally taxing on you and them. They miss their friends and routine just like you do and the uncertainty of when this will end is wearing on us all.
But there’s hope. By establishing a new routine and adjusting your schedule, you can still get your work done. And, with new creative activities and ample trips outdoors, you can keep your kids entertained and enjoy the extra time together with your family.