If you’re like most of the country, you’ve recently found yourself working from home – at the exact same time that your kids are unexpectedly out of school for weeks.
And here’s the real kicker – you just became a home school teacher, whether you want to be or not!
So in addition to adapting to being out of your office routine (but still being expected to work just as efficiently), you have a whole new job and some very unruly new coworkers.
While many people on the outside think working from home is perfect for moms and dads, the truth is that most parents have childcare lined up for when they’re working.
To compound things, most activities and parks are now closed, play dates and sleepovers are not recommended during quarantine and “stay at home” orders, and kids are already getting tons of screen time while they attempt school.
So how are you supposed to get any work done?
1. Know Your Needs
If you used to arrive at work at 9 and did your best work from 9-1, it may be unrealistic to ask yourself to pop up at 6 am and work before the kids wake up, or hope to work just as efficiently during naptime in the afternoon.
Once you do some soul searching and hammer out when you do your best work, you can hone in on activities to keep your kids busy when you’re really on a roll.
2. Plan Ahead
A little planning can go a long way.
Look up crafts, games, or activities that are appropriate for your child and that may interest them – and then set those up after bedtime. When they wake up, surprise them with something new and fun.
Set messy activities up in a space that you’re comfortable with (nothing wrong with them being outside a little too!).
Creating scavenger hunts in the house or yard can also buy you some time. If your kids are too young to read, draw pictures of things for them to find.
Set aside a little time each night to research a special activity and set it up for the next day.
3. Kids Need to Play
Don’t plop the kids down in front of a tablet or TV and expect them to sit there all day. Kids need to play and move!
If they are at an age that requires schooling on the computer, make sure they aren’t moving right to movies and video games after schoolwork. Schedule time outside. If you can work nearby, do it. Otherwise, schedule it while you’re on a break.
Family bike rides or walks are good for everyone and will help you all sleep soundly at night.
If you have a yard or any outdoor space (a balcony or patio will do), consider getting a small baby pool and filling it with sand. Playing with sand is great for kids developmentally, and you don’t have to worry about their safety the way you do with water.
A pool, sand, and a few shovels & buckets from the Dollar Store can go a long way.
4. Use Technology Intelligently
If your kids aren’t required to complete schoolwork on the computer, use technology to your advantage! When you have an important call or a strict deadline, utilize movies or learning websites.
Limit exposure each day, and try not to fall back on screen time unless absolutely necessary.
5. Keep a Special Toy Reserve
Make certain toys a treat for kids; once something becomes off limits, it is infinitely more interesting to kids. Each day, take out one toy for a set amount of time before putting it away.
A light table, Lego’s, paints, wooden blocks, or racecars are all examples of toys that will entertain kids for an extended amount of time when exposure is limited.
6. Be Realistic
Do not expect to be just as productive at home as you were in the office. Do not expect that your kids will entertain themselves for 8 hours each day, especially when you can’t just send them out to play with friends.
If schedules make your world go round, make one and stick to it. If the idea of a set schedule brings you additional stress or anxiety, take each day as it comes.
If both you and your spouse are working from home, take separate lunches and breaks so that you each get quiet time to work while the other takes over with the kids for a while.
Know that you are not alone in these struggles. Much of the world is discovering just how hard working from home with kids is. And don’t forget to mute your phone when you’re on calls!
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