How to work from home with kids and balance work and play together?
This is the challenge for parents stuck with kids at home and things may turn worse during emergencies like pandemics. While lockdown and self-isolation are helping you and your kids stay safe and healthy, you can’t enjoy a smooth workflow with limited child care options. If you have no experience of work from home with kids, then you may find it hard to be productive and stay sane. It may take a toll on your physical and mental health.
So, how to peacefully work from home with kids and avoid job burnout and mental outbursts? How to prevent awkward situations like your child shouting at the background while you’re suggesting new ideas to your boss?
Here are a few proven strategies to work from home with kids and make your life easier.
1. Stay organized and creative
Dealing with your cranky child while trying to meet an urgent deadline can mess up everything. Work smarter! Just set a daily routine that helps you accomplish your daily work targets and fulfill household responsibilities. Setting realistic goals and adding time for playing with your children, teaching or watching movies with them will keep your stress level low.
By preparing your daily routine in advance, you can keep your necessary resources handy and be productive. To avoid interruptions you may negotiate with your boss for working at odd hours. I am sure, your employer too is juggling kids and work. Having a creative schedule is a win-win situation for both of you. No more blemishes on your work ethics.
Working from home doesn’t mean you lose the sense of professionalism. It means you have to create a warm work environment to become more productive than ever.
2. Have a designated workspace
If you work from home with kids, the bedroom or couch may not be the right option. Of course, you don’t want your whining little ones to ruin your Skype meetings. Right?
To focus and manage interruption set up a dedicated space in your house like a storeroom or study room with a good internet connection. You can shut the door whenever you want with a “do not disturb” sign on it that can act as a visual cue for your kids in the home.
That’s a wonderful getaway from all the chaos and devastation that occurs when you are working alongside your children.
3. Take advantage of sleep time
Make most of your kid’s nap time says Louise Pentland, a best-selling author, and parenting vlogger. You can give full concentration in your work and self-care activities like yoga for a set amount of time. If your child is too old for naps then you got to be flexible by planning and accomplishing serious tasks after they sleep at night or before they wake up in the morning. This is also the right time to plan out other activities for your child that doesn’t require enough supervision.
4. Keep your kids engaged
Why not let your kid have an agenda for each day? When the schools are closed, you can take the help of school teachers to structure your cutie’s day. Set a fixed time for snacking, playing, naps, school projects, and so on.
Add sufficient time for kid’s entertainment and free play by taking advantage of interesting toys in the market or the latest technology like brain games apps or audiobooks. Once the pandemic is over, you can also add short trips or a visit to playgrounds in your kid’s daily routine.
If you really want to have a peaceful and joyous life, leave your work on time and spend some great moments with family.
With such a creative routine and flexibility, you don’t have to guide your child’s activities too much. (that doesn’t work for toddlers). Add sufficient breaks and kids hours in your own daily routine to feel more connected to them. Reward good behavior of your child and they will ensure your smooth workflow.
5. Earn the screen time
What if your older kids act crazy and overactive? How to manage them spending excess time binge-watching Netflix? How to give them quality attention so that they don’t bother you?
You may ask your children to earn screen time. For example, 30 minutes extra for watching Game of Thrones if they clean the cupboard or finished reading, writing or other activities on their daily routine on time. This works as a backup plan when your kids are too bored and ready to create havoc in the house.
TedEd is another brilliant alternative to Netflix because it’s engaging and educative so you won’t have that ‘extra screen time’ guilt.
6. Share mental load with your spouse
If you are not a single parent, communicate with your partner to share the workload. Discuss with each other about needs and expectations and how to balance work from home with kids and other responsibilities. Discuss who will cook and who will clean the house. If you both have convinced your respective employers for flexible shift hours, then you guys can take turns in taking care of children.
While you are attending the client’s call and holding e-meetings in the daytime, your husband may fulfill the additional demands of your child and make sure they don’t enter your work zone. Also, one of you may choose to work when the kids are sleeping. Swapping in and out of childcare duties will help both of you get key tasks done without one person lagging behind.
7. Set boundaries
Whenever you work from home with kids, make sure to set boundaries. State out facts to your boss and HR and clear out how you are going to work and deliver results. Else you may screw up yourself!
Likewise, educate your children about what exactly is work from home, when can you help them or when they can enter your workspace and should maintain pin-drop silence. Address their queries on how long they can wait for you to hang on with them or solve their academic or personal problems and so on. Transparent communication will prevent any embarrassing moments later.
8. Fix your “Me time”
Stress and anxiety are obvious when you work from home with kids even if both parents sharing household works.
Accept it that you can’t master the work-life balance overnight or be that perfect mom for some days. So, stress less and for that, you need to add ‘Me Time’ to your daily routine. Your me-time can include anything from listening to music, workouts or power nap or meditation or cold water baths or walk on the terrace or any other non-digital entertainment to rejuvenate mind and body.
Stay true to yourself! Be upfront with your boss as suggested by Muse career coach Melody Godfred. And this will help you deal with your own anxiety level and stay calm and composed in all situations.
9. Hire help
Are you a single parent? Then working from home with kids or toddlers must be daunting to the next level. Considering the lockdown and stringent social-distancing rules, the charges of hiring a nanny may spike. However, that’s a temporary issue. You can ease the burden by hiring a full-time live-in babysitter for yourself and neighbors in your apartment.
So you can share the fees and cost of an extra member in your house with other families in your building. Besides caregiving, nanny can help you all with simple household chores. You can better focus on your business knowing that your kid is in safe hands. Are you still in doubt? Then you may asses other options and resources by contacting childcare centers.
I hope these strategies are helpful and you can apply them whenever you have to work from home with kids. Because if not pandemics, there can be any other reason for such an unprecedented situation to arise. Not all the strategies may be fruitful for everyone owing to uncertainties in life.
But, you can stay sane and productive as long as you keep your commitments, stick to your schedule, reward your kids for obedience, and give them quality attention.
Sometimes you may feel lost, sometimes you may lack visions, and sometimes you may lack motivation. All you need to do is keep moving.
What other tips would you like to add to work from home with kids? Leave a comment below.