Whether current events have you working from home, or you have a flexible job that allows for this, we can all agree that the work-from-home life with kids is a tricky one. Work needs to get done, kids need help and some entertainment, and you keep noticing the messy house from the corner of your eye.
You need a strategy if you’re going to get through the week (heck, get through the day!).
One of the best things and first things you can do to be as successful as possible while working from home is to COMMUNICATE. Talk with your employer about their expectations during this time. Find out exactly what they expect from you. Do you need to be on every conference call or can they be adjusted? Do you need to maintain the same working hours or can it be flexible as long as the work is done? Clear work expectations will help you determine how to then communicate with your children. Keep in mind, this may all be new territory for your employer, and they are under stress too.
Once you are able to establish expectations with your employer, communicate with your kids. Do they understand why you are on your phone or computer? Don’t assume your kids, even teens, completely understand what is going on or why your attention is divided. Take time to communicate why you are all at home and what they can do to make this time together more successful. Ask your kids about their school routine. What does their day look like? How can you copy some of those routines at home the best you can?
Babies through teenagers, here are some ideas to get work done while everyone is at home.
Schedule as much work as you can during nap/quiet times. Move call times and important tasks for when you are guaranteed downtime.
Wear them. Strap that babe on, walk and work if needed.
Set up a pack and play next to your computer. Sometimes a change of scenery helps everyone. Move around the house if needed.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks. From toddlers to teens, everyone loves snacks. Fed kids are happy kids.
Set a timer. If your schedule allows, set a timer for 15 minutes of work and 15 minutes of focused kid time. Taking time to interact with your child throughout the day helps keep them independently busy longer.
Let them have screens. We are so blessed to live in an age of Disney+ and PBS Kids. Control the programming, even for teens, and let go of the amount. Check out this list of educational websites and apps. Screen time can be full of learning time, too.
Stay strong during non-screen times. If you say no to screens long enough, your kids will find something else to do. It’s painful for everyone in the moment, but boredom breeds creativity. Resist requests for more screen time, especially after you have extended it already.
Let them make a mess. Creativity can be messy. Baking and cooking, science projects, arts and crafts all create a mess but can keep kids occupied for longer periods of time. Sometimes the aftermath is worth the time uninterrupted!
Make them do extra chores. Baseboards need dusting? Laundry need folding? Garage need cleaning? You can choose to pay them with money or extra screen time, but there are many odds and end jobs around the house that kids can do to keep busy.
And finally, give everyone grace. Do your best at work. Do your best at home. Communicate before you freak out. This is all crazy for your kids, too. We can look at this as a burden or a blessing. I am hoping for the latter.
God speed, working friends!