From Working Parent to Work-from-Home Parent
Thanks, COVID-19, for allowing parents who typically work away from home to have the opportunity to work from home and spend quality time with their kids.
Oh, wait. As it turns out, working from home isn't as easy as it sounds! You have kids who are constantly in need of refills, snacks, diaper/outfit changes and naps. Not to mention, the non-stop negotiating about screen time, schoolwork, fighting with siblings, and, of course, accidents. Working from home while watching your kids is not for the weak.
Here are some tips to help you maintain productivity while watching those sweet darlings.
Structure Your Time
What are your top priorities for work today? Write them down and set time deadlines for yourself. Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, your phone's clock feature or even just an old-school alarm clock can be a great way to keep yourself on track. Allow for intermittent breaks to check on the kids and ensure everyone is taken care of, or find a comfortable workspace in the playroom so you can keep a safe proximity. Just mind your deadlines and cross items off your list as you complete them!
Your "office" has probably turned into a mobile workspace in the middle of where your life happens: kitchen table, playrooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, anywhere that isn't a sticky mess for your laptop to rest. If you have a place where you can leave your work to take a break and return to it without fear of juice spills or cats napping on the warm keyboard -- great!
Give Yourself a Break
Get out of the house for some fresh air or a quick bite so you can maintain focus when you return. Considering your schedule is likely flexible and no one is turning the lights off at "closing time", you can manage to squeeze a breather in without losing valuable time. Create a home happy hour -- you with coffee, the kids with a special snack, and reward everyone for being patient through this time.
Ask for What You Need
Working from home doesn't mean go without, so ask for what you need. Do you have proper technology and supplies? Sitting at your kids' craft table borrowing their beloved iPad or tablet does not count, and markers or crayons will look pretty -- but unprofessional! Maintaining a level of integrity means having the right resources, so ask! And give your kids their construction paper back!
If your work-from-home situation is temporary because of COVID-19 or some other disaster, or a long-term situation due to company policy or initiative, try to find your balance to get you through. Short-term may feel like dog years if you do not have anyone to help with the kids, but only you know what you need. There are several virtual learning opportunities available online to keep the kids engaged, if you need to tap out. Additionally, a scheduled "field trip" outside won't hurt anyone, especially if it helps you keep your balance. If meals are bogging you down on top of your typical workload, schedule when you prepare and cook meals so you are ready when little bellies are hungry.
Working from home with your kids doesn't have to be a crisis. You can manage you. You cannot control anyone else. So, take these few tips and apply them to your new situation. Welcome home!