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How to Work from Home with Kids when you are Social Distancing
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced schools to close across the country, and many employees are already working from home. With social distancing keeping people at home for the time being, school and work are now taking place at home, and largely at the same time. If you’ve ever worked from home with little children in the house, even for a day, you know it’s no joke
But don’t panic just yet! If you’re struggling to navigate your new life outside the office, these tips from full-time work-from-home mums may help.
Create a schedule
The purpose of a schedule is not to add stress to your life – it’s simply because children respond well to routine, and a switch from a school day to a month of free play might be hard. To overcome the impulse to slack off, create a daily routine and stick to it. In the morning, shower and get dressed as you would for work. Block out time each day for focused work as well as lunch and short breaks in between.
If there is another adult in the house capable of splitting up childcare responsibilities E.g. relative, nanny or spouse, try to assign blocks of time with them when you are not on a break. Most importantly, remember to log off and end your workday when you normally do – it’s easy to overwork when you are at home as it is to procrastinate.
Communicate with your co-workers
When it comes to work life, it’s OK to be transparent about the fact that you’re also juggling the needs of your children, so your coworkers aren’t caught by surprise. If you are on a conference call it is acceptable to alert them when your children walk into the room.
It is also important to create a schedule with your line supervisor and the rest of your team where you all align on your availability to do virtual meetings. Be sure to set up and get used to Zoom, Google hangouts and Skype as conference calls are happening across platforms and you want be ready to go.
NB: Looking to set up a home office, get a printer and office supplies from Text Book Centre.
Get outside if you can
Kids who are cooped up indoors all day can become cranky and overactive. You’re likely to buy yourself some time later in the day if you build an early break in the day to get outside for a few minutes. Of course following the current precaution, it means staying away from public spaces and playgrounds where kids will be inclined to touch surfaces that others have recently touched. If you have a DM at home ask them to accompany your children for a bike ride away from other people. If you have a yard, consider sitting outside and enjoying some water or sand activities.
Having children at home also means you will need to take intermittent breaks in your workday to spend time with your child.. Read a book with your child, have lunch together or any other bonding activity. Try to stay away from your devices during that time
Get smart with screen time
Let’s be real, your children will likely want to play games or watch shows as they would when they are home on the weekend. It takes a little effort to curate your child’s screen usage towards shows that have more substance but if you can use this time to get them watching educational videos then it will make you feel better about the time they spend using screens. If your child is doing online learning with their school do not worry too much about content being strictly educational.
Outside of being more flexible about screen-time, you should also tell your kids when you need to be in “do not disturb” mode. Having this and scheduling screen time when you are on video calls or when you need to focus with less distractions you are more likely to get a lot done in a short time block.
Editor’s tip: For school-going children old enough to understand, have a physical sign on the door with a thumbs up, thumbs down for when you truly cannot be interrupted
Do not compare yourself with others on Social Media
So, you tried that timetable you saw all over WhatsApp, and your children were not receptive. You didn’t respond to a work email quickly enough and by 6PM you were wondering if you could convert all that hand sanitiser back into alcohol. Then you went on Instagram and saw all your friends making crafts and dancing on TikTok with their children. As if you weren’t feeling miserable enough!
Comparing yourself with other parents you do not know is a recipe for disaster. In the grand scheme of life, I don’t think we’re going to look back at this time period and say, ‘If only I’d made more DIY playdough for my kids!’ There is no one-size that’s fits all, do what works for you and your family.
Be considerate to yourself and your children
In an unprecedented situation like this, no one is going to be perfect. Try to keep the mood at home calm and avoid binge-ing on COVID-19 news. For many of us, this is an anxious time. Both your own work and parenting will benefit when you take time to center yourself. Try to manage your own stress, as kids pick up on how you’re feeling. If that means exercise, meditation or taking a stroll, great!
You are likely not going to achieve everything you plan to in your to-do list and that is a reality when you are parenting and working from home. If you have important work you need to focus on, try to do it when your children are more relaxed and get the rest done as the day goes by.
As challenging as it can be working from home with kids, it’s more challenging to not have the option at all.
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