Originally published on Productive blog by Barbara Črgar
With everyone bouncing off the walls at home, there has been a glut of blogs detailing how to save your business in these undoubtedly trying times. This is not one of those blogs. Undoubtedly, some businesses will be in trouble over the coming weeks.
On the other hand, some businesses might thrive. But this blog has very little to do with business in the abstract. Instead, we’re going to focus on the equally challenging prospect of juggling your work life with your family life.
If you have kids, school is most definitely out, and quarantine is most definitely in. Which means you (and possibly your partner) will have to wear three hats in the space of one day: parent, teacher, and employee. Can it be done?
Can you embody both Mrs Doubtfire and Gordon Gekko in one quarantined body? And if so, what are some tricks and tips to make the whole process smoother? Read on for our advice on how to work from home with kids in the house.
Many people have had to recalibrate their schedule thanks to COVID-19, and many, for the first time ever, now find themselves in the role of a “work-from-home parent”. This will come as quite the system shock to most, especially as the rapid onset of the pandemic left little to no chance to adjust.
There are many perks to working from home: you cut out the commute, you’re more in charge of your own schedule, you can wear what you want (well, from the waist down, anyway). But if you add kids into the mix, things can become a little trickier.
The first thing to know is something that you’re probably all too aware of as a parent: it ain’t all gonna go smoothly. Those stock shots you see of a smiling dad bouncing a toddler on his lap while he closes a multi-million-dollar deal via Skype are the stuff of fantasy. However, there are several things you can implement to make the whole process more productive for everyone involved.
If you have a partner, the first thing you need to do is sit down for an honest and open discussion with them. Remember, there are two of you. This is a major asset when it comes to juggling work and parenting. You should be prepared to split the load equally, but make sure you have a conversation first about your wants, needs, and expectations.
Believe it or not, some partners might not realize exactly what their spouse’s job entails, or the demands it makes on them. This is your chance to talk it through and decide on a plan of attack that suits you both. If your kids are old enough, invite them to discuss things with you too. Open communication is key to achieving harmony under one roof.
First things first – you’ve got to change up your schedule. The standard nine-to-five isn’t going to cut it anymore, not when you have kids who demand their own kind of schedule. It’s important to establish a routine at the beginning of your quarantine. Adults and children alike thrive under routines, and it will help to establish a solid psychological grounding right at the top.
This doesn’t have to be rigid; it just has to be consistent. You should prepare to get up earlier in the day and work later into the night. You might have to take longer breaks or work in different rooms around the house. Whatever it is, preparing a routine will help you feel like you’ve got a handle on this type of thing.
The other inconvenient thing about kids is that they’ve gotta eat – and they’re not afraid to let you know when they’re hungry. Incorporate meal and snack times into your routine, and encourage your kids to help themselves (where they’re able and can be trusted!).
If they’re too young to do this, preparing food ahead of the game – i.e. before the working day starts – can massively cut down on stress.
You need to prepare yourself for the inevitable: a child will invade your video call sooner or later. You might even be forced to take a call with your kid on your lap. Don’t panic. It’s bound to happen. In these circumstances, a lot of the regular rules get jettisoned and we find ourselves making a lot of it up as we go.
The best way to deal with this is just to give your colleague on the call a heads-up that this might happen so that they’re not surprised or put out if it does.
A silent child sitting on somebody’s lap is all well and good, but what if your kid becomes a full-on distraction? How can you concentrate? Coming up with some fun but quiet activities to keep your children entertained during the day can be a lifesaver here. Fortunately, there are more than a few activities that will keep your kid engaged while keeping the volume down.
Jigsaw puzzles, drawing kits, colouring books, and TV shows or movies with Bluetooth headphones are all good options. If you’re worried about consistent education for your child, there’s also a plethora of online schooling services available, so investigate that option and see if it might work for you.
Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every family. Try different approaches and solutions until you find what works the best for your family. Good luck!