The spread of the coronavirus has forced working parents into teleworking, and we are all learning fast how to manage working from home with kids around.
Where I live, schools have only been open for one month in the last six months, and I also have a full-time demanding job. Luckily, I was able to work from home right from the beginning. I have to say, when it comes to managing a family and your career, the home office is excellent; however, managing working from home with kids around – is a huge challenge.
How do you stay productive? How do you get your work done? How do you make sure the kids get their homework done? How do you keep them from watching TV all day?
It is challenging at the best of times. I mean, we are supposed to work from home AND watch the kids, homeschool, do the household chores etc., etc., etc. What, what? Really? Sounds overwhelming? It is overwhelming, and it is very tough – honestly.
However, there is a way to cope and get through this. If you are in the same situation, I have compiled my best tips and tricks from moms just like yourself for “how to manage working from home with kids.
Always Get Dressed For Work
Just as important as having your own office space is to get dressed for work every morning – even though you will just be staying at home all day.
Dressing in work-appropriate attire will help your brain and your kids understand that you are, in fact “at work. It is also scientifically proven that getting dressed for work will make you more productive and effective (evidence) while working from home.
You can, however, wear a more relaxed style while working from home. I recommend going for business casual and versatile workwear. You might want to invest in some fab work-from-home staples such as comfortable pants – think business yoga pants and smart leggings or a jersey dress.
==> Click here for my 5 tips on comfortable office clothes <==
==> Find out just how much more relaxed dress codes might be after Covid <==.”
Set Up A Separate Office Space Or Work Zone
To have a productive and satisfying day, I highly recommend setting up a separate office space or work zone.
Suppose you can set up a proper home office with an office desk and chair and everything you need to have a productive working day.
It will help your brain to separate your mom role from your work role. Closing the office door behind you will also signal to your children that you are “at work” now, and it will be easier for them to respect your working time and give you much-needed focus time.
If you do not have a separate office, try to create a work zone, whether on the kitchen table or in another corner of your living space.
To “switch off” from work at the end of the day, turn the computer off, make a note of the tasks you want to accomplish during your next working day, and clean up your office space. It will help you switch off and ease into a relaxing evening with the family.
Set Some Realistic Goals
Productivity doesn´t mean that you have to work eight hours non-stop. The benefit of working from home is that you have fewer interruptions by co-workers – although this is, of course, replaced by interruptions by your kids.
Anyway, if you set some realistic goals of what you want to achieve that day, for example, get three critical tasks done and check e-mail for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, you can stay on top of things at work and still have some time to attend to your kids.
You might find that you are just as productive, despite the many interruptions you will undoubtedly have. After all, you also don´t work 8 hours straight when you are in the office. Setting and achieving goals will help you be more productive and feel that you have accomplished something at the end of the day.
Read on to learn more about creating a schedule and some super-effective habits to incorporate into your daily routine.
Stick To A Routine And Create A Schedule
Your day will be way more productive if you set fixed “office hours.” How many hours are you planning on working today? Do you have any fixed calls you need to attend? What can you accomplish during nap time or while your children are engaged in an activity, such as coloring?
Try to stick to a fixed start and end of the day and let your family know when you absolutely cannot be disturbed.
For tiny children, this will be challenging, so in this case, nap time is probably the best time to get things done.
While it is essential to have a fixed schedule that will help you get things done, it is equally important to be flexible about the said schedule.
Working from home with children around will require this flexibility, and it is unrealistic to think that you will work effectively throughout the entire day.
Work some longer breaks, such as an extended lunch break, into your schedule.
This will give you the chance to spend quality time with your kids and attend to their needs. After that, you can always catch up with work later during the day when the kids are watching a favorite show, or your partner can spend time with them.
I recommend adopting some effective productivity strategies to get the critical tasks done during your working day for your schedule to work. Apart from that, it will be essential to inform your boss and peers about your program to know what to expect from you during your working day.
For maximum productivity, make sure you set up a strict schedule for your working day.
Adopt Super-Effective Ways Of Working
I have found the following three tips particularly useful when it comes to creating an effective work schedule. I implemented these three rules about six months ago, and I have since become much calmer, productive, and effective.
Avoid meetings at all cost
Meetings can be complete time-wasters in any corporate job. If you have to attend a meeting, make sure the agenda and objective of the meeting are clear from the start.
Try to avoid meetings without a clear plan or when you can make a real contribution.
Always ask yourself: can I actively contribute to this meeting, and/or does the meeting directly impact the goals I want to achieve.
If the answer to both of these questions is NO, try to get out of the meeting!
Read email twice a day.
I used to read e-mail all the time and would be in and out of email constantly. This is hugely distracting and confusing for your brain. I
have made a simple change in my ha: I only check email twice a day now. Once at 11 a.m. and once at 4 p.m. This way, I can respond timely.
And guess what? I can keep up with my emails in a much better way. I am responding to every email.
It has improved the quality of my email management because I focus on email twice a day rather than keeping up with emails constantly. I recommend you do the same. It is better for your brain and your productivity at work.
Do The Most Important Tasks First Thing In The Morning
Finally, with all the free time you have gained from avoiding meetings and limiting your email hours – concentrate on the critical tasks first thing in the morning. Do the things that will make a difference to your business first. That is anything related to advancing your business and adding value to your customers.
TAKE CARE OF THESE FIRST.
I have gotten into the habit of using 2 hours of focus time in the morning. Office365 offers some productivity tools that automatically set “focus time” in your outlook calendar. This will help you get the essential tasks done and will let your co-workers know that you are busy during that time.
Sample Schedule For How To Manage Working From Home With Kids
Of course, there are many ways to navigate through a Work-From-Home day with kids around.
A friend of mine – a successful WFH sales manager and mom to a seven and a five-year-old has shared the following schedule with me that works very well for her.
- She works from 7 to 8 before the kids wake up and manage to tackle the most important tasks first thing in the morning.
- She then has breakfast with the kids and, after that, works from 9-12 while the kids do their homework assignments, crafts, or watch TV.
- Then they take a long lunch break together with lunch and an outdoor activity afterward till about 3 p.m.
- And then she gets back to work while the kids play more games, watch TV or do crafts.
Her Partner also has a super-early start so that he can get home at around 4:30 – 5:00, takes care of dinner and the kids while she carries on working till about 7 p.m.
This schedule allows her to spend time with the kids and clock 8 hours of relatively undisturbed work.
While you might not be able to choose your hours as freely as you can or might not have the support of a partner, I hope this schedule will still inspire you to create a program for you that works. Here are some questions to consider:
How much work can you get done before the kids get up?
How can you create a time in the morning when the kids do “their” assignments, such as homework, or for the little ones some craft project you give them to complete
Can you take an extended lunch break to go outside with the kids?
Can your partner or somebody else support you in the last hours of the day?
How can you use shoulder hours (mornings, evenings) to get your work done?
I would love to hear from you, how your WFH with kids schedule has panned out and how you are doing with it.
Be Upfront With Your Boss And Inform Your Peers At Work
Once you have created your schedule, make sure to inform your peers at work. This is not only professional but will also make you seem reliable and productive. You can do this by using your outlook calendar.
Block Focus times for performing your most essential tasks and fixed email times. Block your lunch break to make sure you can enjoy the time with your kids during your lunch hour.
Talk To Your Children
Talking to your children about your work and your schedule will help you create a calmer, more organized environment at home.
Children like structure and will accept your “absence” from their world better if they understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Draw them a schedule of when you are available, when they need to have quiet time with their activities and when you will do activities together.
Even with small children, discuss your schedule and ask them for their input. This will make it “their” schedule, too, and they will be more likely to stick to it.
It will help make the schedule visible to your children in a prominent spot, lounge, or hallway. Besides, you might want to consider a chart they can tick off for each day the schedule has gone well and give them a little treat.
Keep Kids Entertained
To keep kids entertained, plan little activity stations they can visit throughout the day. For children six years and younger, the following are good ideas to keep them entertained for a while: beads and a string, glue and paper, Play-Doh, or Lego. For slightly older children, a loops bracelet station will be a good idea.
Relax screen times
While tough screen times are critical regularly, I feel you can relax those rules a little while working from home with children. Let them watch their favorite show while you finish that last conference call.
It would be best if you still had clear limits regarding screen time, even though they might be a bit more generous these days.
Tell your children exactly how long and when they are allowed to watch TV or a show on Netflix and try to incorporate it into a healthy routine. For example, make sure they have had their time outside before being allowed in front of the screen.
If you are struggling with keeping tabs on how long they have been watching, use tools like Apple screen time, which helps you control your children’s access to apps and their time online.
I know this isn´t much of a tip on “how to manage working from home with kids,” but still – it is my first tip. Because deep down, I believe that working from home with kids is impossible. You either work, or you are with the kids. But to do both is just mentally exhausting. So, if you can – get help!
Here are some suggestions on how to organize some help:
1. Use official daycare, if available: in many states, daycare has stayed open although school has been closed down.
2. Split your duties with your partner: if you are both working full time, see if it is possible for one of you to have a super-early start, for example, so you can be home early and be with the kids or vice versa.
Splitting childcare duties with your partner will give you some much-needed time to concentrate on your job and still give you enough time to spend with your kids after work.
3. Check with other moms, if they can look after your children, even if it is just for a few hours during the week – and make sure to return the favor at the weekend
4. Use the support from your family: if you are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby, use their help if they are offering. Again, even a few hours a day will make a difference!
So my first tip on how to manage working from home with kids around is: Get as much help as you can!
But this is not possible for all of us, not everyone has family or daycare centers nearby, so if you are working from home and your kids are around, you can still make it work by using some of the above tips.
Finally – Give Yourself A Break
My final word of advice on managing working from home with kids around is: don´t be too strict on yourself or your children. Working from home with kids is an unusual situation for most of us parents and our children. While it is essential to bring a good structure into the day, please don´t be too hard on yourself or your children if things won´t go as planned. I guarantee you- they won´t 🙂
You don´t have to be perfect; it is just simply brutal to juggle a career and family and homeschooling and household chores all at the same time.
You are doing great, and you are getting through this step-by-step. Nobody is perfect: Give your best every day, and that will be good enough!
How To Manage Working From Home With Kids
I hope my tips about how to manage working from home with kids have inspired and supported you. If you are working from home with kids around, I would love to hear from you.
What works best for you? Do you work according to a set schedule? What are your biggest challenges?
Please leave me a comment in the comments section below; I am looking forward to getting your perspective!