In our changing world, many of us now need to work from home. Adding to the stress of the change, schools are out and our kids are home, too.
Striking a balance between work and fun when working at home is difficult enough. Working at home with kids is even trickier.
Here are some tips to make working from home with kids easier for everyone.
Create Your Own Space
Try to find a space in the home that can be your workspace. While it’s tempting to just plop down on the couch with a laptop, there are lots of distractions in communal spaces.
Ideally, you can claim your own room in your house, such as a spare bedroom, sun porch, or other space. If this isn’t possible, set up a desk that can be your work zone and off-limits to other people.
Do whatever you can to create some sort of physical separation from the rest of your house, even if you can claim four walls to yourself. If you need to use a bedroom or dining room, for under $100 you can buy a partition to give your workspace separation from the rest of a room.
Then, set rules. For example, “When mom/dad is sitting at the desk, do not interrupt them.”
Remember, young kids are used to playing with their parents when they are home from work. They see you at home with them and think it’s fair to want to play and be entertained. Children won’t understand what’s happening in these unique times, so it’s important to set boundaries and rules.
Set a Schedule
In addition to creating a workspace just for you, set work and play schedules. Let your family know what hours you are working and when you plan to take breaks.
For example, you can tell your kids that you will work from 9 am to 11 am, and then take a 30-minute break that you will dedicate to playing with them.
If your work makes it difficult to create a schedule like this, create a symbol when you are working/not working. A hand-made sign showing if you are available or working will suffice.
People who work from home will tell you that it’s difficult to set boundaries. You’re never really “home from work” when you work from home, and it’s easy to get sucked into working non-stop. Setting a daily schedule will help overcome this.
If your kids are young and take naps or go to bed early, consider making their sleeping time your work time.
Many people are struggling with more than just kids at home right now. You might need to set a schedule with your spouse, too!
Most people don’t wear headphones when they are in a corporate setting. Now that things have changed, it might be a good time to invest in a high-quality pair for working from home.
Use your headphones to block out noise and focus on your work. If you don’t like to listen to music while you work, you can download apps to listen to white noise or other sounds to help you concentrate on your projects.
Be sure to buy a pair with noise-canceling technology. Find headphones with a microphone if you take lots of calls and videoconferences from home.
Set Up a Reward System
Everyone is anxious right now. Your kids are used to being at school, and this disruption is difficult for them, too.
Set up a rewards system that thanks them for respecting your workspace and work schedule. You can also reward them for taking on new jobs at home, such as taking the dog for a walk.
As an example, give your kids a star for every day that they respect your workspace. Reward them with a movie download, dessert, or a new video game.
Download Rather than Stream
Zoom meetings. Skype. Netflix.
Normally, most of these aren’t going on at the same time. It’s different with our current situation, where everyone is home at the same time. And when you need to get work done, you need to make sure you have the bandwidth to sustain those work calls and other functions.
Both Netflix and Amazon Prime allow users to download many movies and shows rather than stream them (Spotify also offers a music download option). Talk to your kids and ask what shows they’d like, then download them overnight when you aren’t using the Internet connection for work stuff.
Give the Kids a Project
When you know you’re going to be busy, make sure the kids are as well. Schedule reading time, or a movie, or homework, for the windows of time when you need to be on the phone or a video conference. Or allow them to play video games or other sought-after activities only when you’re working, so they are less likely to interrupt you.
If you’re clever about how you schedule everyone’s time, you might be able to keep the peace around the house — at least for a little while!
You Don’t Have to Be a Superhero
Working from home is tough even in the best conditions. Working at home with your family home is harder. Add to that the need to keep your kids learning when they are on extended leave from school, and the pressure is enough to make even the best people throw up their hands in frustration.
Remember, this too shall pass. In the long wrong, your family’s mental well being is more important than making sure they don’t miss a bit of school. Everyone else is in the same boat, too.
While you might want to homeschool your kids, focus on overall well being, first. You don’t have to be a superhero. Just make it work the best you can by following these tips.
While your front door may be closed during these troubled times, you might be looking for other outlets for your creativity. Get inspired and #CreateFromHome with Namecheap.