How to Have Fun and Stay Productive While Working From Home With Kids
Toddler tantrums, diaper changes, blaring TVs, in-fighting amongst teens… working from home with kids is, if anything, eventful. It is hard enough to adjust to working from home everyday, but those of us who are suddenly sharing our “office space” with children might struggle to stay productive and sane. But, considering all that is going on in the world, being asked to stay home isn’t all that bad. That time you usually spend commuting to and from work can now be playtime with the kids. Those tedious water cooler gossip sessions can now be story time with the toddlers.
As stressful as it might be to handle the day’s workload while also doing your part to wrangle the little ones, the silver lining is that we get this rare chance to spend more time with our families. And we can all agree that it’s more important than ever to be close to and cherish the people we love. Working from home with kids will take some getting used to, but here are some simple tips to help you have fun and stay productive.
Expect And Accept the Unexpected
In our blog last week we talked about the importance of maintaining your morning routine and keeping a designated workspace when working from home. But, even if you’ve got a great morning routine, a quiet work space and your schedule is nailed down for the day, you won’t be surprised when (not if) things don’t go according to plan. Children are masters of chaos and Rule #1 is to expect the unexpected. And since there’s no way around the inevitable hiccups and disruptions of parenthood, you have to learn to accept them and roll with the punches. With all the extra background noise and children indiscriminately bursting into your office space demanding chocolate milk, some tasks are going to take longer than expected. Sometimes all you can do is take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, adjust your schedule, and do your best to play a little catch up whenever you get the chance.
Take Advantage of ANY and EVERY Quiet Moment
If you want to be as efficient as possible when working under the same roof as your children, you have to be flexible and opportunistic. As soon as you have a quiet moment, you want to work quickly and knock as many tasks as possible off of your to-do list. The toddlers napping? Time to power through those spreadsheets. The house is finally quiet because the kids are out getting fresh air? Time to make those important phone calls. You might even want to bend the rules a bit and get some work done in the evening. If you have 30 minutes after dinner, while the kids are getting ready for bed, you might be able to lighten tomorrow’s workload. Taking advantage of these small moments might be your best chance to get ahead of schedule, so when those inevitable speed bumps do pop up throughout the day, you don’t have to be too stressed.
Managing Screen Time is More Important Than Ever
Every parent knows that screen time is a double-edged sword. Letting your child hop on YouTube for 25 minutes could earn you a little break that finally gives you the bandwidth to focus on an urgent email. But we all know that those 25 minutes can quickly lapse into 2 hours before we know it. Experts suggest setting daily limits as too much screen time can be harmful to childrens’ physical and mental health. But, when you’re trying to work from home, a little bit extra screen time here and there can be a real lifesaver. You just have to be more deliberate and strategic about when you allow that screen time and try not to replace physical activity, sleep or other “healthy” activities. Timing of screen time might be the best strategy. For example, if you have a phone call at 1:30, get their favorite show streaming at 1:25 so you can have a short reprieve to focus on the call.
You Can Do This!
Ultimately, being able to spend all that extra time with our families might be the one thing we’ll come to miss about working from home. When things settle down and we start to filter back into our office lives, we’ll think fondly about all the extra memories we were able to create with our children. Hopefully our lasting memories from this time period will be of building forts, making homemade play-doh, dusting off those classic board games, and teaching them how to cook their own mac n’ cheese.
What tricks and tips do you have for maintaining a healthy balance when working from home? Share your #LifeMode hacks with us!