Being stuck in quarantine with your kids is already challenging enough. But when you have to work, too, how do you manage it all without losing your mind (or your patience)?
The 2020 pandemic has forced many people to convert to work-from-home setups, and if being stuck at home is not already hard enough, parents have to work and take care of their kids at home at the same time. If you’re in the same boat, here’s how you can make your life easier while working from home with kids:
1. Get some help
Until it is safe to leave your children at a daycare facility, getting your kids out of the house while you work is out of the question. If your children are at the age where they need constant supervision, entail the help of your spouse or close loved ones to take care of them while you work.
2. Set some ground rules
On the other hand, if your children are old enough to keep themselves occupied, set some ground rules for when you are working. For example, tell them not to distract you with matters that are not urgent, especially when you are doing something important. If they want to be near you while you work, ask them to stay quiet. Establishing these ground rules early on will help minimize conflicts as you settle into the work-from-home lifestyle. Moreover, it will help your children become more disciplined about respecting other people’s boundaries.
3. Wake up earlier
Take advantage of the hour or two before your children wake up to do a significant bulk of your work tasks. If they usually wake up around 8 in the morning, get up at six or seven to get most of your focus-demanding work out of the way. In this way, you can get one or two hours of uninterrupted time that you can use to increase your productivity.
4. Offer rewards
Positive reinforcement works well on children, and it can be your most important ally when you want to work from home peacefully. To get them to stay behaved while you work, offer rewards that they can claim at the end of each week, like a movie night, pizza, or an extra 30 minutes of playtime.
5. Keep your work area separate
It may be tempting to work at whatever place in the house you feel like working in, but this can condition your mind to associate different parts of your home with work. As a result, you may not feel as relaxed as you do while lounging in the living room or patio because this is where you do most of your work.
To avoid this, set up a work area where you can do your work with minimal distractions or interruptions. If you have a spare bedroom, consider converting it to a temporary home office while you’re on a work-from-home setup. If you don’t have a spare room, you can set up your work area in a well-lit part of the house, away from the main living areas.
6. Work during nap times
If you have an infant or young children that still take naps, use the time when they fall asleep to work through your task list. But if you are exhausted yourself, it won’t hurt to catch up on a few Z’s yourself.
7. Avoid multitasking
This seems counterintuitive, but you are better off focusing on work during work hours and leaving everything else for before and after the workday. However, there is no problem with doing a load of laundry when you’re not busy or washing the morning’s dishes during your lunch break. Just make sure that you are not compromising your work for the sake of getting a chore in here and there.
8. Give your kids attention
Your kids probably won’t last a whole day without your attention, and as a parent, you will probably feel guilty if you ignore them all day. You can avoid this by sparing time for them at certain times of the day, for example, during your lunch break or your afternoon coffee break. Listen to their story, play with them for a few minutes, or watch a short video together. After they get their fill, your kids will hopefully stay out of your way when you get back to work.
Working at home can be a lot harder than working at the office, but it does give you the chance to spend more time with your family. Although your kids are essentially distractions while you work, there are lots of ways you can balance your work and your personal life with the right strategies.
Are you a parent working from home? If so, what do you do to maintain focus on your job but without neglecting your household responsibilities?