If the thought of working from home with your kids from now on is filling you with a little apprehension, here’s a list of tactics from a qualified health & mindfulness coach Louise Murray that might help:
- Be realistic. If your children constantly demand attention during non-business hours, do you really expect them to sit in a corner with a pile of crayons, colouring books, or an iPad for hours at a time while you work?And remember, you are the main attraction for your little ones, especially now – they will probably just be so excited to be at home and have you there with them so don’t set the bar too high in terms of what you hope to achieve each day.
- Have the talk. If they are old enough to keep themselves occupied, explain the situation and that you’ll need to remain focused at certain times throughout the day with minimal interruptions. Communicate to them that they are a part of the team and their role is to help mommy or daddy remain productive.
- ‘Emergency’ drills. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a sudden outburst from children during a conference call. To minimise this, run through a series of simulations to prepare your troops. Nothing is guaranteed, but it’s worth a shot, so practice the most common scenarios. So, for example, if the phone rings and mommy quietly steps into the office, do you run after her screaming or quietly have a seat and wait for her to finish the call? Over time, the children will most likely get the hang of things and give you quiet time when you desperately need it. But until then, we’ll keep practicing and where possible you will manage the expectations of the others too – everyone will be quite understanding.
- Offer incentives. I like the term ‘incentives’ instead of bribes! Set goals for your children to keep them occupied. If they successfully meet the target, offer them a reward. Whether it’s 30 minutes outdoors, popcorn and a movie, or a pizza night, give it a go!
- Plan activities that don’t need supervision. Different activities apply to different age groups, of course. While babies will give you a breather during nap times, you can rely on swings and bouncy chairs or put on music or Baby Einstein. Create activity boxes that contain games and puzzles that require minimal adult supervision for toddlers and primary school kids. Have a backup activity jar ready to go for when these activities become boring. Older kids will most likely be busy with online schooling. They can also be kept busy with trustworthy apps and their favourite shows. We are definitely going to stress less about screen time.
- Shift work. Do ‘shift work’ with your partner if they are at home with you. For example, 5am – 9am, 8am – 12 noon, 12 noon – 1pm time together as a family for lunch/play/outside time, 2-5pm, 5pm – 9pm. This way you will both get around 7-8 hours of ‘work time’ a day. And the added bonus is you are getting to spend way more time without kids during the week too.
- Nap times! Make the most of ‘nap times’ if you have little ones that still take morning or afternoon naps. If you also have older children who don’t take a nap anymore allow them to have ‘screen time’ whilst younger ones are napping.
- Adjust your work space. Some children will entertain themselves for more than a few seconds at a time as long as a parental unit is in sight. If this sounds like your child, designate a small area of your home work space or area as the activity station. Load it up with your child’s favourite games and activities and crafts. And to make it more fun, submit requests for particular artwork to hang in the “office gallery”.
- Recognise when it’s not working. We are going to have good days and bad days with working from home with kids. So if the kids need a bit more attention, and you are just not getting anything done and are feeling frustrated – take a break. Shower them with a major love bomb, and make up the time later that evening with an early start the next day or plan to catch up over the weekend. Rid yourself of any internal guilt and take a break to meet their needs. Take them on a bike ride, have a fitness competition, watch a movie, bake cookies, take a walk, or simply play catch. Regardless of the activity you choose, they will be grateful and stay out of your way when work resumes (fingers crossed)!!
- Pat yourself on the back. Balancing children and a full-fledged workload is beyond difficult, but it can be done. Try and make a little space in your day for you if you can – even if it is just 10 minutes for a little self-care to help avoid burning out physically, mentally and emotionally – micro-self care is where it is at! So allocate just 10 minutes a day for some micro-self care to avoid burnout and overwhelm
Most importantly, hang in there! It’s new for us and our kids so be patient, and as we all adapt, our children will adapt too and it will get easier.
Louise Murray is a Health & Mindfulness Coach with the qualification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a mindfulness coach. She looks at nourishing people ON and OFF the plate by coaching them around 12 different aspects of one’s life. Through her work Louise discovered that its busy working women, who often put their own needs last after family and career, benefit from her support the most. She helps them fill their lifestyles with healthy balanced choices and live truly well, being the best version of themselves.