How to work at Home with Kids at Home
If you have the luxury of space, try to designate an office space and a play space.
Keep a Schedule
Keeping a schedule will give everyone some much needed structure and assist with both focused time and sleep time. It will also help you to schedule calls during nap or quiet times.
You can create a visual schedule for young kids or a written on the fridge schedule for older kids. If your child is a teenager, consider some relaxation of times to get up and bedtimes to factor in that they aren’t traveling to and from school.
Getting a couple of focused hours of work done before children get up is a great way to start on the right foot.
If you have a partner who is also working from home, your best bet is to swap hours so you both have specified shifts for working and for watching the kids. If shifts don’t work for your schedules, try taking turns with clear start and stops to avoid anyone feeling like he or she is doing more than their fair share.
Have a special toy available for important times when you don’t want to be interrupted, such as while on a status call with a client or while giving a report on a board conference call. Typically, a novel toy is something where access is consistently limited, such as screen time on a tablet or television.
If your kids are the right age and personality for it, you can arrange parallel activities. While you’re on your phone, give them a toy one. While you’re writing, give them paper and crayons. If you’re reading, they can be looking at books too. Just don’t get mad when they pull every book, they own off their bookshelf while you’re reading.
At mealtime, stop the multitasking and focus on enjoying each other. If your kids are old enough it’s a good time to catch up with them on what’s happening and how they’re feeling. Depending on the children’s ages, you can make and clean up for meals together too. Teenagers make great chefs when it’s food they like so let them pick a recipe they can make for the family.
Exercise is hard for kids to get at home. Some free options are to walk the dog as a family at a time when your neighborhood is safe, do YouTube exercise videos together on the TV, or stretch on the living room floor. One fun option is a game of Simon Says. You might be surprised how many exercises your child remembers from PE class that they can lead you in at home. It gives them a chance to teach you while you take a fun break together.
When your kids are at home and you’re working at home, you can feel pulled in multiple directions. No job is more important than your children, but you need a job to care for them.
Remember that children have the same emotions we all do (fear, joy, frustration, amusement, etc.). While you might use counseling services such as Better Help to manage stress, your kids will need you to create a safe space where they can ask questions and talk about their feelings. This is particularly important when you’re both at home during the day.
Create a Maybe Do List
Create a Maybe Do List of things that your children can choose to do. This is not a chore list but chores can be on it. It will give them ideas and options for when they are out of ideas. Depending on their ages it can be either images or a written list. It can include games such as Jenga, activities like drawing or reading, chores like cleaning their room, and play with favorite toys like building with Legos. They can help you brainstorm to create it and as new ideas come you can add them.
Bring the Fun
When you’re off the clock, bring the fun. It’s time to get silly. Play music and have a dance party. Tell each other jokes. Make and play with play dough together. Have a spa day in your bathroom. Teach them a card game like Crazy Eights or Go Fish. Give your kids the fun attention they craved while you were working. You’ll all be happy you did.
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