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How to "Survive" Working at Home With the Kids
By: Samantha Barkeley, CEO of A Mom Around Town
With schools and daycares closing left and right, many of us are working from home while also trying to be babysitters, teachers, and entertainers to our kids. All day...for weeks...this is a recipe for meltdowns for kids and parents alike. But it doesn’t have to be, there are some steps that we can take to still be productive in our jobs, keep the kids alive (possibly even learning something), and maintain our sanity!
Create a Routine
I cannot over stress enough how much a routine will help both you and your kids. Weekends tend to be a free for all in our house - we sleep in a bit late, watch cartoons in our jammies, eat chocolate chip pancakes on the couch...it would be easy to let this weekend freedom trickle into our new everyone is home all week phenomena. But if your kid has school work that is required, you have meetings or work to accomplish or you don’t want to clean syrup off your couch everyday, you’re going to have to make these at-home work days different. So how do you create a routine?
1. Work BlocksCreating work blocks for everyone is a great way to create routine and get everything done. Work blocks are chunks of time dedicated to a particular activity. Figure out what key blocks you need - phone calls (when you need the kids quiet), emails, reports or focused analysis time. What blocks do the kids need? Depending on age - school work, music time, outside play, screen time, nap or quiet reading. Then fit those blocks together so that the kids volume and neediness matches up with what you need to be working on.
Make sure you plan time to hang out together too! Set an activity that you are going to be involved in at each of the work block transitions. Maybe this is snack time you can do together, or read them a story before they start their own reading time. Interacting together for little snippets will help you both feel better.
There are many at-home schedules floating around, but I see work blocks as a more laid back approach. Schedules tend to feel tight and rigid, where work blocks provide routine to your day without handcuffing you, or worse, making you feel like you are failing.
Here’s the work block I use with me and my 3 year old home. Remember, different ages and personalities will need different things!
2. Follow your kid’s school/daycare schedule
Your kids have an established routine at school or daycare already. They have lunch time, recess, classroom or story time. If you can, create your work blocks to follow a similar time schedule to what your kids are already used to. Talk to their teachers to find out what the schedule looks like.
3. Create spaces for certain activitiesAnyone who works from home on a regular basis knows that a space dedicated to work makes a big difference in productivity. It is hard to go from working at the dining room table to family time after the work day is over. Set up a space that can be for you to work in, even if it is just a little corner that you can call your own.
The kids need the same...it is hard to focus on school work in the same space as the TV or siblings are. Find a space that everyone can claim as their own for certain activities.
4. Make expectations clearNone of us have gone through something like this before, we’re all figuring it out as we go. But talk as a whole family about what the expectations are while everyone is home. Clear boundaries and expectations around quiet time and school work being done is important.
5. Be FlexibleI know, I know...I said have a routine and now I’m saying be flexible, which is it?! It isn’t going to be perfect, each day will have its own challenges to work around, so give yourself and your kids grace. Watch the extra movie, shamelessly use bribery and take deep breaths all around!
Finally: Have Some Fun!
I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I don’t have enough time to spend with my family...well now we’re all thrown together for weeks on end, use it! Use this time to reconnect, play silly games, watch the whole Star Wars or Marvel series, explore new parks. I’ve been so encouraged by seeing steaming story times, concerts and homework support. Tap into what is available through your school, friends and family and online.Here are some favorite at home activities to try!