Every parent has spent time at work wishing they could be at home with their kids, but when home becomes the only place to go and our kids are there 24/7, the reality of the juggle that is working from home with hits hard.
Thankfully, we’re all in this together and, together, we’ll navigate this ‘new normal’ and find our stride at home — and we might even come out of it with some happy memories of living room dance parties and kids bringing much-needed light relief to Zoom conference calls.
We spoke to Robert Rawson, the founder of Time Doctor, about how we can put manageable tips for working from home with kids during COVID-19.
Early bird gets the worm
Where possible, try and get up an hour or so earlier than usual to squeeze in some uninterrupted work. Use this time to map out your day into ‘sprints’ or blocks of three to four hours where you can reward yourself with a break. Try 8-11 with an hour for lunch, and 12-3 and so on.
Make self-care a priority
It’s all too easy to lose sight of boundaries and stay forget the importance of self-care. Try and separate work from personal and get into healthy habits such as having a shower before you start the working day, pop something else on other than your best trackies and maybe even a dash of makeup. The simple act of getting up, and dressed just like you would a normal work day will significantly boost your mood, and allow you to be more productive. At the end of the day, remember to turn your computer off and close your laptop as an ode to the day’s achievements… then relax, however you wish!
Create a schedule (for you, and your children)
You know what they say: ‘fail to plan, and plan to fail’ – which is why mapping out a thorough schedule to see you through the day is key. Try to capitalise on occasions where your children are otherwise occupied such as: napping, watching movies, or completing schoolwork to capitalise on more demanding work tasks.
Where possible, try and remain in a similar routine each day to help your children understand expectations. Getting them involved in the days prospect will help minimise tantrums and allow you to better navigate the workday too. Allow them to choose from a pool of learning and leisure activities to essentially let them design their day.
If your children are digesting their school work via remote learning like most kids in Australia, set them up in a similar fashion and mirror your workspace as much as possible to encourage the notion of being ‘at work’ or, ‘at school’. If they’re watching you work, they’ll likely do the same.
Another helpful tip is to plan and prepare meals in advance to avoid hungry, nagging children. This can easily be turned into a rewarding and time-effective activity which helps tick one more chore off the ‘to-do’ list as well as keep kids entertained.
Have a dedicated workspace
Where possible try and arrange a space where you can return to each day so you begin associating the area with work. Encourage conversation with your kids around boundaries and behaviour in this space to help them better understand your needs.
Lean on your community
Combine forces with parents in a similar situation and organise virtual playdates and parent pods to share the load. Take it in turns to facilitate learning opportunities in place of daycare or school. The kids will love the special time, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
Have a ‘bag full of tricks’ just in case
Keep a box of puzzles, activities, books, and special toys near your workspace that can be used as you’re working. Keep them exclusively for ‘desk time’ to create a sense of desire. It’s always handy to have a couple of snacks ready to go too, in case of emergency.
Stay in touch with your colleagues
Many of your peers will be in the same boat. Make the time to catch up with them for a virtual ‘water cooler chat’ and share stories, and tips.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
No one is expecting you to do it alone. Everyone is finding their new ‘normal’ during this tricky and unprecedented time, which is why you can only do your best and evolve from your learnings. Asking for help isn’t a weakness. In fact, it shows courage and resilience. Call on the casual babysitter who’s likely lost their job in this crisis, your neighbour, or other parents in a similar situation. Share the load, and remember, we’re all in this together and will get through it.