Our new stay-at-home/ work from home reality is bringing new challenges to parenting and managing our jobs. Many of us dreamed of working from home and skipping the commute but adding parenting/schooling in was not part of the fantasy.
If working from home with your kids is overwhelming, you’re not alone. Kids demand around-the-clock attention- and parenting while juggling conference calls, never-ending emails, and tight deadlines is no joke. While we are all going through the same thing, no one wants to be the colleague that has their kid bust in on an important meeting or fail the team when a deadline is looming.
Here are some of the best tips we can put together for managing working from home with kids underfoot.
Be Flexible with Work
First and foremost, being flexible with when and how you work, as well as what tasks you do can really help. This is not the time for perfectionism, just try to do what you can.
Set Office Hours
Setting office hours and posting them for your child to see is a great idea. This also allows you to structure your day and be mindful of being focused in your work so that you could also be focused with your child. Post a written list of times for togetherness and for work if your child can read or understand time. For young children, simply posting an image like a large stop sign can be an indicator that you are not available, and they should not enter the office.
Make a Busy Box
It’s also a great idea to set up a busy box with a variety of items that children can use independently. These may be things they don’t regularly have access to include things such as Play-Doh, stickers, slime, mazes or crossword puzzles, craft items, block kits, or other small games. In a pinch, you can pull out that box and get them busy with something independently while you take that important call.
Have a Separate Work Space
It’s important for you to have a separate area of your home that you delegate for work even if it is a small spot in your closet or in your bedroom on top of a stack of boxes (guilty!!). This will allow you to shift from parent mindset to work mindset and back again. Incorporating noise canceling headphones is a great idea to reduce background noise and stress that other people might hear your children’s noises. Also, if your headphones are on, that can be a signal to your kids that it’s not the time to talk to you. Instead, have them learn to write you a note.
Make Time Together Predictable
Kids need to be able to predict when they will get to spend time with you. When they have a clear understanding of the times that you will be available and you will be engage with them, this often reduces their anxiety and urgency to seek you out. Much of this reaction is often due to uncertainty about when you will be available. So, have breakfast together, take a walk before the day gets started, carve out time to eat lunch together, play a board game when you have a free hour, and plan fun activities for the evening as a family. Show them a schedule when they can expect different activities to happen, and when the cake can expect to see you again. Be sure to include fun things like activities, screen time, and social chatting with friends.
Capitalize on Nap or Quiet Time
Don’t forget to capitalize on nap or quiet time to do focused work. If you don’t have your kids doing regular quiet time in their own rooms, now is the perfect time to get started. You can even start with a small amount of time and build up to having your kids stay for an hour, playing quietly in their room while you work.
Use Extra Screen Time
If all else fails, don’t feel bad about using extra screen time when you need it. Kids are resilient and we are in a crisis situation. A little extra screen time won’t kill them, and it might get you the time you need to get that big project finished.
If you are struggling to work from home with your kids or feel overwhelmed trying to manage it all, we are here to help! We can meet for a few parent coaching sessions to help you set a structure that works. We also offer therapy to cope with the stress and anxiety of parenting and coping during corona. We are here for you!