Remote work is now becoming inevitable in many companies and businesses, especially now that the Covid-19 pandemic is calling for social distancing, such arrangements need to be practiced not only for our own safety but also for the safety of our loved ones. However, if you have young kids at home, managing work from home can be a tricky challenge.
While it can be tricky to get our children to sit down and not bother you for the time being, there are ways to help you out. This week I am going to launch a series of helping you to manage working from home and still stay productive when you have young kids.
Here are some great tips you can do to help you work at home without going crazy with your kids.
1) Sort out a routine
To ensure that your children are used to your work-from-home setup, it is important that they are familiar with the schedule that you set for them.
Create a routine where they know which activities are being done at this hour and focus on them. This also ensures that there is a sense of normalcy in their schedule.
2) Apply new techniques in doing old ways
If your children have playdates during weekdays but could not go to them because they do not have guardians with them, why not use technology?
You can use apps like Google Hangouts so they can meet up with their friends even while at home. If you want to give them activities after school, you can enrol them in online classes that they are interested in.
Be wary of the age of your kids though. My 3-year-old isn’t interested with video conferencing as much as I thought she would. She would wiggle around in the chair before running away. Surprisingly, she could sit in her chair patiently for one hour lesson. I guess she isn’t into online conversations.
3) Let your boss know your arrangements
If you will be working from home, you should let your boss know that you have children at home.
This will help your boss understand that you may have to get a flexible work schedule to fit your children’s needs. This of course, will only work if you have an understanding boss in the first place.
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4) Let your children decide which activity you wish to do
You can also consider giving your kids the autonomy to do the activities they want to do or sort out their meals when you are working.
You can have their food prepared before you go to work and they will just get it from your kitchen. You can also prepare their activities on their activity stations so they can see it easily.
5) Talk to your coworkers
You will also need to talk to your co-workers about the possibility that your children will interrupt during your work.
Warning them before it happens will make them more understanding about your situation. It will also help them prepare on how you can discuss the topic at a later date.
You should also make it a point to mute your microphone and turn off the webcam should your child appear during your meeting.
6) Sort out your breaks with your children
You should make it a point to schedule breaks in between your work. During these breaks, you can unwind with your children and relax.
Give them your full attention during this time so they know you are with them during these activities. You can even see these activities as a way to bond after work.
So How Do I Do It?
Amid the closure of schools and workplace, it is a nightmare under one roof with having to juggle bored kids and irritable spouse.
Not to mention if you have your parents or parents-in-law or any other extended family living with you. Unless you are staying in a ten-bedroom mansion, I’m pretty sure you feel the walls are closing in on you.
As you know I juggle household chores, online studies, freelancing, writing a book and homeschooling on a daily basis. Hence, I’m sure many work-from-home parents with homeschooled kids will be able to identify this feeling with me: it makes no or little difference.
1) Instilling Strong Independency
You see, work-from-home parents have already settled into a fixed routine with their kids long before lockdown happens. Our children, no matter how young, are used to studying independently without having parents looking over their shoulders, nagging them to complete their homework and do their revision.
I am very fortunate that my daughter at the young age of 3, she cultivated the habit of self-reading and revision.
Whenever I am busy with household chores, she will retreat to her bedroom to read her storybooks or pick up her flashcards to revise. This leaves me plenty of time to clean the house and cook dinner. And of course, writing articles for MiddleMe.
If you are stuck at home with your child, I’ll suggest using this time to try instilling independence in them. You can start by stop hovering around them and start allowing them to self-help or help around the house with chores.
2) Decrease My Chores Time and Increase Productivity
I found myself sometimes spending hours doing chores and leaving me near to none for my freelance work or writing. While I love having a clean home and a nice hot meal, I hate doing chores of any kind.
The only thing that motivates me doing housework, is that I see this as a teaching moment for my little one. Well, 2 pairs of hands are better than one. Even though, one pair is way smaller and less coordinated.
On one hand, I get to teach her responsibilities and appreciation for a clean home. On the other hand, I get to cut off my chores time down nearly to half. A big plus is that we both are doing an activity together. Sounds too good to be true? Sure, my daughter makes mistakes (she’s only 3!) and I have to go rectify those mistakes. But in time and with constant practice, she is getting really good at following instructions.
When I cook, she is my delivery girl that carries items from the fridge or kitchen cupboard to the kitchen counter where I’m prepping my ingredients.
When I’m keeping the laundry in, she will be there, ready to receive bundles of clothes to carry them into the bedroom, back and fro several times.
When I’m folding my laundry, she’ll be folding her tiny towels and clothes alongside with me.
When I’m mopping the floors, she’ll be doing the same in her own bedroom with wet wipes.
So every chore I do, I try to involve her as much as possible. Guess what? She enjoys doing chores as much as she loves playing her toys. She loves that I trust her with “adults” tasks and she feels like a big girl (in her own words).
3) Storage Full of Materials
It is not unusual to see my study table piled up with books, flashcards, workbooks, Montessori sets and worksheets. Not to mention, a cupboard that stores all my teaching materials to the brim. I have enough teaching materials to last us until she is ready for Primary School. On hindsight, I may have bought too much but I’m so glad that I did.
Now I can whip out new stuff in case she is bored at home. We lived in an apartment and the current lockdown rules do not allow us to step foot out of our house unless it is for groceries or medical care. So we are locked indoor with no chance of exploring outdoors and do nature walks.
But this doesn’t mean we can’t get creative with our family activities. We even pulled out an inflatable pool, filled it with cold water and had a swim indoor on a hot Sunday.
We also have frequent movie days where my little one knows if she behaves throughout the week, she gets to pick a favourite movie to watch (and it is always The Little Mermaid) on a projector with surround sound speakers (trying our best to mimic a cinema) and darkened room.
4) Sorting Out My Priorities
Understanding what needs to come first will help me to plan my day so I can get some work done in peace.
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For example, I know if I tired out my daughter in the morning, she’ll take a longer nap in the afternoons and I’ll have 3 hours to work on my clients’ projects, schedule my calls, write new posts on MiddleMe.
Another good example is that I set out for success, not failure. So if I have an important call to take when my daughter is awake, I will ask my husband to take over babysitting duties for an hour but not without giving my daughter a few activities to do on her own. Important calls are limited to at most an hour if they can’t be scheduled in the afternoons or at night due to time differences with my clients.
As my current freelancing projects revolve around writing and recruiting, I don’t really need to be on conference calls unless it is an emergency or they are a new client who wants to video-meet me.
It can be a challenge to juggle both childcare and work, especially when you are working at home. Many parents are also experiencing your situation and they too had to find ways to adjust their work schedule.
Try these tips I listed above and with some mild changes, I’m sure you can create a work schedule at home without losing time (or sanity) on your family.
Need help to work productivity at home? Here are some of my tips:
8 Mistakes To Avoid While Working From Home
Timetable Of A Work-From-Home Mother
How to Make the Most of Your Day When Working Remotely
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