8 Ways to Successfully Work from Home with Kidsby Shelly Spencer on 04/25/20
Like many people across the US and the world who have been thrust into the work-from-home lifestyle, you might find yourself wondering just how to do it when you’re kids are home from school, too.
How can you possibly get the work done with all the interruptions and distractions, with your kids needing attention and no boss looking over your shoulder?
Have you found an effective way to handle it all? And, what if this is a more long-term, permanent situation?
I have successfully worked from home for the past 21 years while also raising two children (my youngest will be 18 later this year). It can most definitely be a challenging lifestyle, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything. The freedom and flexibility I’ve enjoyed have far outweighed any stress or chaos I have encountered over the years.
Over these last two decades, I’ve developed my own way of working and encourage you to try some of these simple tips I’ve used to successfully manage it all.
8 Ways to Successfully Work from Home with Kids
1. Create a schedule – yet be flexible! Mapping out your day in hours and tasks can really help you stay on track even if the kids are underfoot. It helps you stay organized and see everything you need to get done. But there will be times when you can’t follow the schedule due to interruptions and that’s where you need to be flexible and make adjustments. It’s easy to get upset by the interruptions but that won’t do you, your work, or your family any good. Remaining clear, realistic, and adaptable is key!
2. Consider working off schedule if you can. Meaning, work hours when there aren’t as many distractions. Get up earlier before anyone else is up. Work when everyone else has gone to bed. Work during kids’ nap time.
3. Take meaningful breaks – to clear your mind and spend time with your kids and family. This way they don’t feel as if you’re ignoring them and they will appreciate your time. Also, you won’t feel guilty when you do have to start your work again.
4. If there is another adult around, whether they are also working from home or simply furloughed from their job due to the current world state, enlist their help. Set a schedule and have them watch, help, entertain the kids. If they are also working, take turns with the kids while the other one attends to their job. It helps you (and them) be more productive knowing you can give your full attention to your work and knowing your kids are safe and engaged.
5. Pick a spot in your house with the least distractions. Sitting in the family room where the kids are playing, the room with the TV or gaming system in it, aren’t the best places to work from. If you can, set up your workspace where it is quiet and you don’t have other activities pulling at your attention. It can be too easy to get involved in other things or procrastinate if there are too many diversions around.
6. Give your kids tasks to do around the house, whether for fun or chore related. Get them involved with their schoolwork or learning activities. Make it age-appropriate so you don’t get as many interruptions. Make the tasks quantifiable so that when they achieve them, they can get rewarded in some way.
7. Depending on the type of work you do, involve your kids in your work. Give them easy or non-essential tasks. Kids like to feel important. They like to feel like they are contributing and having them help can be not only a great learning experience but also shows you value and trust them. Again, offer “rewards” for their help.
8. Don’t forget to schedule downtime. Often, when the work is there always staring you in the face, it can be hard to shut down and leave it for the day. There is always one more call to make, one more email to check and respond to, one more paragraph to write… It’s easy to have the work intrude on your personal and family time. When the workday ends at your scheduled time, put it aside, out of sight if possible, and commit to giving your kids, your family, even yourself your full attention.
It really is possible to work at home successfully. It just takes some extra planning, creativity, and patience. Just be careful; you might find that once the social distancing is over and your boss wants you to return in-house, you really don’t want to go back into the office and would rather stay working from home!