Well we are certainly in an interesting (scary, unusual, uncharted?) time in life right now as we all hunker down and hope that somehow it is enough to slow the Corona Virus. I honestly never even considered that this would be something I would deal with in life (but let me tell you, I spend tons of time worrying about all sorts of other things). It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? We just don’t ever know and can’t predict what is coming.
We are in Illlinois where schools are called for the next 2 weeks, in addition to large gatherings, and restaurants are closed for in person eating (like most of the country I think). In addition, many companies and businesses are allowing or have asked their employees to work from home– and all of our school aged kids are home. I am going to share more about being home with school aged kids later this week, because I certainly recognize how huge of a change it is for everyone with school aged kids, but especially from those who are used to working full time out of the home. The other challenge is how to work from home…with your kids there!
Everyone’s situation is very different depending on the needs of their job, the availability or existence of a spouse, and their kids ages…but I have been working from home for the last almost 7 years, and with kids home for a lot of that. A few years ago, we got to a point where I so luckily was able to have childcare during MOST of my work at home hours, but I have done lots of work over the years from home with my littles here also both before and since that time, and want to share my top 5 tips for those of you who are doing it for the first significant amount of time! If you have multiple kids and they are older than 3, this will be much more simple for you most likely than for those with 1 kid or younger kids! So here are my top tips!
1). Even if it seems like you need to use every moment of free time, I highly recommend that you still take time to get ready in the AM (and make time to exercise if it’s a part of your regular schedule). Working in leggings without a shower can feel fun, but i am never as productive when I don’t take a few minutes for self care in the AM! I highly recommend it to you too. This time works best for me when it is done before our kids are up, or at least before I am on mom duty (our kids get up really early so they have some play time together before mom and dad get involved!).
2). Try to plan out your MUST dos vs your can do laters. Knowing what exactly needs to get done, and prioritizing that, can be super helpful (and also can calm you a bit if you are feeling overwhelmed). Refer to the list throughout the day so you don’t get off track, and if there are tasks that can wait, hold them off.
3). Make sure that no matter what the age is of your kids, you have a quiet rest time in the afternoon of some sort! Even if it’s just reading, it can give you some good time that won’t be interrupted (especially if you end up needing to be a little more hands on the rest of the day). If you want more ideas around this, I blogged about it here!
4). Try to figure out what work tasks need your undivided attention, and what tasks might be able to be done with some distraction. For me, I can write emails while my kids are around and I’m interacting a bit with them (not super well, but it’s possible!). But I cannot do any video/sound recording or editing for the Photo U when they are around, so I would save that for quiet rest time! Then I try to stick to that list depending on where my kids are what they are doing, and it helps me keep my patience too because I can remind myself that I knew this was a task I could be interrupted during.
5). I highly highly recommend (of course depending on your work) to try to plan on working for just 4-5 hours during the day. I recommend this because that means that the other 2-3 hours of “daytime”, you can give your kids your undivided (or less divided at least!) attention– and I have always found that if I first give my kids some really clear attention, they are much more willing to give me some time after. More about this in a later post, but I am really trying to use this time as EXTRA bonus time I get to have with my school aged kids who I miss a lot during the school year while they are gone all day…and I want to really get to have extra cuddles, laughs, reading, and fun with them these weeks. So even on my work days, I’m trying to cut down a bit to get that undivided time with them. If you really use your time as well as possible, you might find you get almost as much done as you did in an 8 hour work day (though I know that’s not always true and TOTALLY depends on your kids ages and activities). And if you find it just isn’t enough– for these few weeks, maybe doing a couple hours after they go to bed, after your spouse gets home (or is done working), or in the AM before your kids are up will help supplement. So even if I can get 1 hour in the AM, 2 hours during rest, 1 hour in the afternoon, and 2 after kids go to bed and it’s ALL focused (no phone interruptions or scrolling!), I can get in 6 hours and that’s pretty good if it’s focused time. Perfect? No! But pretty good.
Well, if you are finding yourself home with your kids while working for the first time– I hope these tips are helpful! I learned very quickly that the more impatient or frustrated I was, the worse everything got. So I urge you to try to be as patient with your kids as possible, and set them up with actual activities when you are hoping to work as much as possible (bonus tip!) because “go play!” doesn’t work super well unless you have much older kids. The more I prep them, often the more I can get done (though not always). And last: cut the mom guilt! If you have a particularly busy day and need to show a movie (or two)…it’s ok. We try not to depend on TV for much distraction but that doesn’t always work. This is an unusual time in our lives- give you (and your kids!) lots of grace!
If you have any other great tips, please leave them in the comments below!!
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