Hoping I can help a parent out during these crazy times and although it took us six weeks to get into a groove with Work from Home/Homeschool setup, I figure sharing what worked for us may work for you.
Now let’s get this moving. While there is some flexibility in my role, my job is not primarily a work from home situation. We’re in our seventh week of stay at home isolation and the government has just announced an extension of four weeks with school closures. Truthfully, my hubby and I are okay with it, because we finally found our groove. I can’t pin point the “aha” moment for us, but our whole family flow is a lot smoother. So, with that being said, I’m sharing my top five tips to help parents work from home with kids.
1. SCHEDULE YOUR TIME – start your day early or stay up late
If you’ve successfully managed your workload and are able to meet all deadlines between the hours of 9:00am – 5:00pm, tell me your secrets! Before COVID, I would work the odd time from home such as a PA day and always managed to get my work done. But that’s the odd time. Being thrown into the deep end working, home schooling, cooking and breaking up fights between work hours is not sustainable during a lockdown.
What’s helped me is getting up a few hours early to get work done with a cup of hot coffee in hand. I use this quiet time to respond to important emails and tasks, saving the easier work during the high engagement times with my boys like homeschooling and freeplay.
2. TIME ALONE WITH THEM AND TIME ALONE FOR YOU
I know it sounds cliché, but honestly it’s a blessing to be spending quality time with the fam. But, it didn’t come easy. The first few weeks felt like my work life morphed into my family life. Work got done and kids were fed but there were many times where I was just in auto pilot mode. So to set things straight, schedule family time, one on one time with the kids, one on one time with the spouse and get in on some alone time. It sounds prescriptive and it’s not always going to pan out, but if it’s scheduled, it will eventually happen.
My time with the boys is after work and at bed time, hubby and I use Saturday nights to try and watch a movie and Sundays I go for a drive solo to clear my head.
3. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS WITH YOUR MANAGER AND YOUR HOME TEAM
While I know and my manager knows the work gets done, I wanted to be transparent about my work/home life and that if I’m sending emails in the early hours or into the late night, it’s what works for me and my brain, LOL. Having a supportive work environment really helps the work from home life and I’ve been lucky to have that. My boys have even joined in on a couple of zoom meetings.
Now, as for managing expectations with my home team, hubby and I share our schedules ahead of time and flag what meetings are important (meaning no kids, no interruptions and no surprises). My twin boys on the other hand (who are five years old), have no concept and I don’t expect them to, but I still share my schedule with them to set boundaries for work time and family time. And voila, six weeks in and they still don’t get it, LOL! But one day, they will.
4. GET UP AND GET OUT
Everyday, I look forward to 4:30pm. This is my time with the boys, our recess to go out and get some fresh air. Sometimes, it’s not easy to get them out and not everyone’s in the mood, but once we’re outdoors we’re in our happy place.
Some great activities to hype up the kids:
- outdoor scavenger hunt
- bike or scooter rides
- the eye spy game
- chalk drawing on the sidewalk/driveway
5. BREAKFAST, LUNCH and DINNER
I’m great at everything else, but put me in front of a stove and I become basic. I didn’t realize how lucky we were to have help since the boys were born until COVID – work from home. Planning and sticking to an eating schedule is so important. Being at the office and losing track of time and not eating is one thing, but being at home and everyone losing track of not eating is a hot mess.
Honestly, it took a few weeks to work out an eating schedule. Hubby and I agreed that we would try to eat all meals together and if we couldn’t, one parent would. It’s consistent and a great way to spend quality time with the kids. Cooking for my family has been the steepest learning curve, yet the most rewarding. I went from sandwiches, spaghetti and omelets to yogurt parfaits, taco tuesdays and charcuterie boards.
- Snacks like fruit and veggies are prepped and put into containers so the kids can help themselves. A parent I know also suggested this tip for packed lunches
- To keep the boys hydrated, water bottles are filled on the daily
- Fruits and veggies are encouraged during the early part of the day. Afternoons can get messy and sometimes I resort to bribing them with treats
- Provide options for meals and snacks and get them involved in prepping. It’s a great way to build their confidence in the kitchen and it gets their buy-in.
So that’s it! And like I mentioned, although our family got into a rhythm at the six week mark, we’re still a work in progress. We’re all trying to manage during this difficult time and we have to accept that things aren’t always going to go smoothly. However, the beauty of this situation is that we don’t need to reset on a Monday or a new month, which was always my motto. We all now have the opportunity to reset on the daily and be kind to ourselves.
Comments and additional tips, let me know!
Sending you good vibes!