5 Secrets Everyone Working From Home With Kids Should Know
Being a parent is really hard. Being a parent while working from home - extremely hard!
Although most of us have had the occasional “work from home day” when our kids were sick and we needed to stay home to care for them, working from home every single day with children is new to most of us and is uncharted territory. It can be a difficult learning curve and if we’re being completely honest with ourselves; it can be completely and utterly exhausting. We’re trying to manage a full workload while our older child is getting frustrated with her math homework and our toddler is running around the house yelling like a howler monkey in only his pull-up begging for snacks every 5 minutes…how does any of this sound remotely easy?!
Pre-covid, I never knew what it was like to work from home; I worked outside of the home and my son attended daycare Monday through Friday. Fast forward to today...I am sitting here working from home (and writing this blog!) with a 3 year old son sitting to my left and a 1 week old daughter napping in her bassinet to the right. In these 11 months, I have had to learn how to manage the chaos and find balance (I swear it IS possible and not just like some magic unicorn that doesn’t exist). So here I am, sharing 5 secrets that have helped me tremendously, and hopefully they can help you too!
1. Introduce Peak Performance Hours
We all have times during the day where our mind has clarity and focus and we are able to complete a task with ease; these are our “peak performance hours”. For some of us, it doesn’t start until 10am, after we eat breakfast and brew our favourite cup of coffee. For some, its at 5am before the world starts waking up and the household chaos commences. Or, it may be that we work better at night once the kids are fed, bathed and sleeping soundly. My advice is to start paying attention to when our peak performance hours are and take full advantage to get as much work done in that timeframe as possible!
2. Take Breaks
Mom (and dad!) guilt is a real thing and when we are trying to focus on a work task and have our toddler hanging off our leg begging for attention, we aren’t giving our full attention to anything and the guilt starts to creep in. I recommend scheduling in consistent breaks away from work, phone or any other distractions to give our littles undivided attention; whether its reading a book, doing a craft or just having play time together. This allows us as parents to take a break and recharge, but also gives them the important interaction they need too (plus it totally helps minimize the mom guilt!) Once break time is up, we can go back to work for a period of time and they can have independent play time and everyone is happy! Can you say “life saver”?
3. Communicate With Your Employer/Clients
Communication is key, and especially in this instance. Employers these days are having to be more flexible as their staff work from home, but having that conversation about realistic expectations and what we can handle is important and it will significantly minimize the stress we tend to place on ourselves. Perhaps you are self-employed like me? It’s best to let clients know that there may be some chaos in the background during an upcoming Zoom call. Chances are they are in the same boat and will appreciate the transparency; and honestly, they will probably think even more highly of you for continuing to work hard for them while juggling a crazy circus in the background.
4. Create a Dedicated Workspace
With older children, it may be possible to create a secluded workspace where we can create boundaries by shutting the door and getting uninterrupted work time while the children work on their schooling. However, if there are younger ones, that may not be a possibility. Creating an organized workspace in the main area of the house where an eye can be kept on them is key. You can also create boundaries in a fun way by putting fun coloured tape on the floor around the workspace (trust me, cookie crumbs in your keyboard isn’t fun!) and be sure to let them know about the new plan for break times where they will have your undivided attention (you can even set a timer to make it more exciting for them!). Once those boundaries start to happen day after day, they will start to catch on and will be willing to remain in their area to play independently until it’s time for the 1-on-1 breaktime together.
5. Hire a Babysitter/Nanny/Tutor
Working from home with children is unbelievably hard and we should have zero shame in asking for help. Hiring a babysitter to help keep the kids occupied during an important virtual meeting, a nanny to take them to the park and help with light housekeeping duties or a tutor to help with virtual schoolwork might be exactly what is needed to be more productive and to keep our sanity in check. Plus, our kids love having someone new around who will introduce them to new games and activities and give them undivided attention.
2020 and now, 2021 have been unprecedented years and as things continue to change in the blink of an eye, we need to continue to adapt and make adjustments accordingly. It’s okay to bend the rules a little, whether its allowing a little more screen time than normal or giving them a snack that you would typically say no to. We as work-from-home parents need to be able to cut our children, and more importantly; ourselves, some slack. We are all doing the best we can, and there should be zero shame in that.