Working from home with your kids can become overwhelming and hard to manage. However, if you have a plan and stick to it, then it will become much easier. Now don’t expect everything to go smoothly after just one day but with a little patience, you will be able to manage to be there for your family and your business.
5 Tips For Working At Home If You Have Kids
#1 Get Into a Routine
This is probably the most important thing you can do if you are trying to work at home with your kids. A routine for children is essential. Children need stability and when you have a set routine, they will know what to expect and most of the time follow it without having to ask them to do something 100 times. At first, you may find a routine tricky to stick to but, trust me, once you have it down you will be super grateful for it. A good routine for your children should include a set time for meals, classwork, play, and bedtime.
You can then build your work schedule around these activities maximizing your kid’s downtime for work time. Think about what the most important activities are that you need to get done every day. What activities do you need quiet time to complete? Carve out hours of the day when you’re available for calls or virtual meetings, and make sure to schedule them when your children are having quite time. Also, try to schedule frequent breaks in your day. Instead of sitting down and working on a task for three hours, break up your day a bit more. Make sure you build your work schedule so the most important things get done every day and forgive yourself if all the items on your list don’t get completed. Celebrate that the most important ones did get done.
#2 Set Expectations
Make sure you communicate with your family what you need from them. Have a family meeting and explain how work works. Start with a conversation that working from home means “working.” As much as you or they might like, you can’t hang out all the time. Let your kids know that you have certain tasks that you must accomplish, and you can’t be available all the time. Explain that when the door to your office is closed, they must knock before they come in. And if there’s a “do not disturb” sign on the door, that means they can’t knock on the door but perhaps they could slide a note under the door or text you with any questions. Also, if you are on a call, make sure that you give people a heads up that you have kids and may have to step away.
Don’t be afraid to ask your family for help. If you have a partner or older kids that can help with the younger ones, ask if they can help when you need time to focus on work. You can also use the power of video chat if you don’t have anyone in the house that can help you. Friends or grandparents can use video chat to talk to your kids, read to them or play a game.
#3 Plan Activities For Your Kids That Don’t Require Your Supervision
This is a big help because when your kids are preoccupied with these activities you can really focus on the work activities that require your most attention. Different activities will apply to different age groups but here are a few examples for you.
Naps, swings, bouncy chairs
Shows or videos such as Baby Einstein
Toddlers through elementary:
Favorite shows and/or related online games. PBS has many options.
Educational games and apps
TV shows or Movies
Bonus Tip: Create activity boxes. Fill the boxes with activities that the kids can do on their own. You can have themed boxes and label them so your kids have choices. They can be anything from art projects, to Legos, play dough or even creating a family tree. Just make sure they’re age-appropriate and contain activities that require minimal help from you.
#4 Set Up a Reward System
If you want your kids to do more of the things you like and less of the things you don’t like, then a reward system is win-win for you both. You can get as creative as you want with this. You can make a reward board where they can win things each week as well as earn rewards for different activities. For example, if your kids play quietly while you work give them a reward. It is also important for kids to understand why you need them to do this. Try to steer your kids toward more calm, relaxing activities, as well as nonviolent, as those can amplify bad behavior and frustration.
If your kids do interrupt you, stay calm. You may need to stop what you’re doing and deal with the problem. Once you’ve handled the situation, finish your work and then have another discussion with them where you explain why you need to be away and why you need their help so you can do the best work possible.
When your kids don’t interrupt you, reward them. Give them lots of praise and thank them for their help. Kids love to feel like they can “help” you with something and they crave praise and recognition.
#5 Take Time To Destress
If you are stressed out your children will be also. They can feel your emotions even if you don’t show them so make sure to take a few minutes of time every day for yourself. Maybe this means getting in a quick work out, having a glass of wine when the house quiet or just taking a bath. You must take care of yourself before you can fully take care of anyone else.
Don’t get overwhelmed if it takes a week or two to get your plan in place and fully functioning. This is completely normal and it will get easier, but only if you stick to it.
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