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Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.
Working from home is hard enough, but when you’re trying to figure out how to work from home when you have young children, it can be virtually impossible. Whether you’re already working from home with kids and you are wondering if there’s a better way, or you’re thinking about working from home, you may need some quick pointers.
While it’s not always easy, there are some things you can do to establish a routine, some boundaries, and get in the groove of things.
Make a Schedule
This is one of the most important things you can do when working from home with kids. A schedule keeps everyone on track. And even when it doesn’t, it makes it easier to get back on track if you fall off a bit.
It sounds tedious, especially when you feel like you don’t have time. You already have tons of work to do and you’re worried that your schedule will be useless because you won’t stick to it anyway.
I understand where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t matter. You should do it anyway, and there are a few reasons why.
Spending an hour now building a schedule will help you organize your time, segment your day, and keep everyone being productive. And that’s even if you don’t always stick to it.
Simply having a schedule is a huge piece of motivation, and as you try it out, you’ll be able to adjust it accordingly or deviate from it on days when you feel like you need to.
A schedule can even be a “suggestion” most days, but it keeps you on track more than not having one at all. There are days when your plans will go out the window and it looks nothing like what you had planned, but that’s ok.
If you have elementary aged kids or younger and you’re trying to give them some structure, this is a great way to do it. Make sure they have a good mix of independent play and structured play, but give them a bit of freedom to be kids.
Believe it or not, if you focus on them for 30-60 minutes and give them some much-needed attention, they’ll bother you less throughout the day. They’ll learn quickly that they’ll get their dedicated time to spend with you.
If you’re worried that you may struggle to work from home with kids, you can offer them incentives to get them to cooperate. You can take it one hour at a time for younger ones, or for older kids, offer them something to get them through the day.
For example, tell your kids if they can occupy themselves for one hour, you’ll take a 5-10 minute break and play a game with them or work on a puzzle.
Or offer your older kids an hour to stay up late if they can get some chores done for you around the house while you’re working.
This could be a huge motivator to leave you alone and let you concentrate on getting some work done.
Keep in mind that it’s more than possible to get a full 8 hours of work in, it just may not be during normal business hours like you’re used to. It may be a couple of hours after breakfast, a couple of hours at naptime, an hour before dinner, and a couple more hours after bedtime.
Get Dressed in the Morning
Transitioning to working from home can be tough on your mind and body, but getting dressed can help. It sounds weird, but you can keep up a natural feeling of home and work if you change out of your jammies and into something a little more like clothes.
You don’t have to wear business attire, but do change your clothes when you wake up for the day. Maybe you’re changing from sweats into yoga pants. Or maybe you’re taking off your baggy t-shirt and donning a comfy collar.
Either way, it may not sound like much, but it will work to train your body that now it’s time to be awake. You can shed your relaxed, sleepy feelings in exchange for some productivity. And there will sometimes be days when you don’t even make it this far, but at least you can try.
Taking breaks can keep your mind fresh. A moving body will keep your mind moving, too. Take a walk as a family in the afternoon to mix it up and stay active. You can stay healthy and spend time together.
You can also break every hour to get a drink of water and stretch or play a quick game with your kids to keep them entertained and in line.
Working from home with young children can be very rewarding. It’s more time spent together, which is always a blessing. But you have to set boundaries. Being at home together doesn’t mean they can bother you every second of the day.
Your kids have to understand that you need to get work done. You shouldn’t feel guilty for asking them to play for an hour quietly while you concentrate.
It helps to turn your living room, spare room, or basement into a playroom. Move all of the toys to that room and create physical boundaries for where they’re allowed to play when you need some time alone.
Independent play can be healthy for all children. It’s an exercise in imagination, respect, and patience. And if you’re feeling up to the task, you can offer them some light schoolwork, like ABC Mouse, to keep them busy and further their education. Win/win!
Go Easy on Yourself
This may be an adjustment for everyone, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t feel guilty for asking your kids to go play, but also don’t feel guilty for skipping out on work every now and then. Some days are more productive than others.
And despite feeling isolated, you’re not. There are plenty of people who are struggling to work from home with young kids these days, you just can’t see it. You’re in the thick of it, but hopefully implementing some of these tips will help.
Some super helpful advice right here. As a mother with school children at home during the coronavirus pandemic (and now the summer holidays looming imminently), I’ve found myself in a precarious position of trying and failing to work from home. Admittedly, I gave up. I particularly like the advice of creating a schedule and will be implementing some of these tips to try and get through the summer and make some extra debt-paying money! Thank you to Smart Parent Advice for this article. – Miss Penny Money
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