Working from home in your sweatpants with easy snack access and a short commute seems like a dream come true, right?
Until you remember, your kids are there.
We love our little cherubs, of course. But it can be challenging to balance Work Mode and Parent Mode when both are demanding our attention. If you’re feeling the strain of pulling double duty, here are five simple tips for surviving working from home with your kids.
Give yourself some space.
Not everyone has the luxury of a home office, but that doesn’t mean you have to work with legos at your feet and Cheerios stuck to your elbows. Get creative and carve out a corner somewhere to be your designated work-only zone. It can be as simple as one end of your kitchen counter - but keep it free from leftover breakfast and sticky fingerprints. Make it clear that unless someone is on fire, they should stay out of this area. This will help you transition in and out of Work Mode and Parent Mode.
Routines, Routines, Routines
Kids thrive on consistency. For older kids, try a “schedule” of sorts to give their days some structure and prevent boredom: Chores. Breakfast. Screen time. Schoolwork. Lunchtime. Free play. Do whatever works for your and your family.
Plan for boredom.
Just because you’re home doesn’t mean your kids will suddenly be able to entertain themselves for hours - particularly the little ones. Have an emergency supply of (quiet), safe activities that you can pull out when the crying or the whining starts. Keep it close by for easy access.
Make time to take breaks.
Taking short but frequent breaks actually improves a person’s productivity, so plan to step away every hour for five to ten minutes at a time. It’s good for you and will give you a chance to make sure no one has colored on the walls or flushed the remote down the toilet. Do drink refills. Break up fights. Make it a game, and when the timer goes off, everyone has a dance party. It gives them something to look forward to as well!
Finally, ditch the guilt and keep the grace.
There will be meltdowns (yours and theirs). Some days they’re going to have more screen time than you’d like. Some days your coworkers are going to hear you yell at your kids because you forgot to mute your mic during a ZOOM meeting. You will need to change a diaper blowout right in the middle of an important client call, or you’re going to wonder if you are about to have a nervous breakdown. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember that it will not always be perfect. AND THAT’S OK. Give your kids and yourself plenty of grace. (And maybe some chocolate, because that usually makes everything better.)