Between sick days and snow days, many parents know what it’s like to have to work from home every once in a while. But if you’re one of the millions of people who have been told to stay home, you’re likely adjusting to a new normal, balancing job responsibilities with parenting and daily housekeeping.
So when your roles as parent and employee collide, how do you manage to do it all? We’re here to help with five tried and true tips for working from home with kids (without totally losing your mind).
Plan and prioritize
Make a daily or weekly schedule — and stick to it. Not only is it important for your kids to have an established routine, but it will also help you be more productive in the long run.
Break up each day with time slots designated for work, meals, playtime, etc. These don’t have to be rigid, as we all know that sometimes we need to improvise, but maintaining structure within your days will keep you focused and on track.
Set boundaries and manage expectations
Designate a space in your home and treat it as you would your regular workplace. For those with spare rooms and home offices, this is much easier to do. But even if you have to work from your kitchen table, try to keep the space off limits to the little ones.
Equally as important as the physical boundaries are the figurative ones. Younger children especially may not understand why Mom or Dad isn’t giving them their undivided attention like they normally would at home. Navigate the conversation with empathy and patience as you remind them that this is a unique situation.
Find engaging activities for your kids
Any parent knows that once children reach a certain age, keeping them occupied is essential to getting anything done. There are some great free resources and online learning tools available to keep young minds sharp and engaged outside the classroom.
Take advantage of modern technology and videoconferencing and plan virtual play dates to keep kids socializing with friends.
Another way to keep kids busy is by giving them a new responsibility around the house. Instead of framing it as a chore, turn it into an opportunity to teach them a new skill and reward them for their achievement.
Make time for breaks
There are plenty of benefits to taking breaks, so depending on your job flexibility, try to devote at least 30 minutes per day to letting your mind rest. Get outside and go for
a walk around the neighborhood. Sketch, meditate, or read. At the very least, find moments throughout the day to practice mindfulness.
The point here is to unplug and let your mind rest for a bit. (You’ll be so glad you did.)
Take care of yourself
When you’re simultaneously caring for your kids and trying to get work done, taking care of your own needs can sometimes fall to the bottom of your list of priorities. But when we take good care of ourselves, we can take better care of the ones who depend on us.
In addition to nutrient-rich food, plenty of water and exercise, a good night’s sleep is essential. Carve out extra time each evening and let yourself relax and unwind — away from your smartphone and computer. Relieve some of the day’s stress with a hot bath, or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read.
Self-care is also being gracious with yourself and recognizing that things aren’t going to be perfect. Even if you have your work-from-home routine down to a science, there will inevitably be challenges. Go easy on yourself and remember: you’re doing great.