There is no doubt about it, being a working parent is a tough gig at the best of times. Throw in Coronavirus, home schooling and social distancing and it just got a whole lot tougher.
I have worked from home with the kids (4 years and 18 months) for a week now and it was not, shall we say, easy?
Here is my tips to help you get through working from home with kids.
Get up early
It is super tempting to stay in bed that bit longer (if your kids actually let you) but I find that getting up a decent hour or two before the kids rise gives me time to have a few moments of peace, enjoy my coffee and get as much of my admin work out of the way before chaos starts.
Set up your space
Prior to the pandemic I worked from home one day a week. I used to just work at the kitchen table and this never bothered me. But now I am doing this on a daily basis for the foreseeable future, I needed a dedicated space. This in part is so my stuff isn’t mucked up by the kids, and in part because I need to leave my desk and mentally “come back home”, but the biggest factor is the kids understand if I am in my work space, Mummy is working.
Plan & Prioritise
I try and break my day up into blocks around the kids needs. My youngest still has a nap in the middle of the day and I schedule whatever online meetings need to be done then so I can carry them out without interruption. My children are young so I have found 45 minute blocks work well for us. I arrange an activity for them (Kmart craft section has been an inexpensive godsend this week) and try and power through as much as I can in that block. Once that block is done I stop for 30 minutes and give them my full attention and then we start again. It has required a little creativity on my part to keep them entertained (PS forts will get you a decent chunk of time) but I have got my work done.
Usually by the mid afternoon they have had enough of being indoors so I throw the toy box in the yard and have my phone and laptop outside and continue working. I have noticed getting outside makes me feel better also and helps clear the mind.
I don’t think I have had a client who hasn’t heard my children carrying on in the background this past week. I preface every call with “please excuse the background noise, I am working from home with children”, the entire country is in the same position and all my clients are incredibly understanding and often will be saying the same to me. We are all in this together.
Accept and Acknowledge
This is a strange time for our world and whilst I hope and pray this is all over quickly, the reality is we are potentially in this situation for months. Accept that the situation is messy and working from home is tough. Acknowledge that this is a difficult situation and that its ok for your kids to have more screen time than normal. It is a time when we are all adapting to our temporary new normal and it is not an easy task doing this in a time of social isolation and distancing.
And most importantly, hang in there. Like the blur of sleepless nights in the early days of parenthood, this too shall pass.