Working at home sounds like loads of fun…until you actually have to do it! I promise you while not difficult, it’s not a task that is for the faint at heart. Throw in kids on top of that, it can be a recipe for disaster if you go in with lofty expectations and no plan.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has suddenly thrust millions of parents into telecommute roles. This means that many of us be at home for at least two weeks, with minimal exposure to the outside world. Having to keep up with your workload in addition to your children’s school workload will be taxing, but I promise there is a way to get it all done!
Plan for Interruptions
This should be a blanket rule number one in all aspects of parenting. No matter what, always expect there to be some type of interruption-even if it is just a minor one. It’s Murphy’s Law, and if you have small children, it’s one that isn’t easily avoided.
One thing you can do is work on/establish non-verbal communication with your kids. If you have older kids they may already have this down to a science. If not one of my favorite go-to cues is “the look.” And if you have been a parent longer than 30 seconds then you know exactly what the look is.
If your kids are too young to catch on to “the look” then a simple one-finger move to signal hold on is just as good. Other cues could be closing a door, or placing a scarf on the doorknob.
Create A Schedule
When you are working from home it is EXTREMELY important to set office hours. One thing a lot of telecommute newbies forget is that it is still very important to separate your home and work life, even if they are in the same environment.
This means when it is “home life” time, no answering work phone calls or emails and remembering to decompress from your employee role and transition back into your parenting role.
While working from home is easier to get accustomed to if you do not have set hours if you do then make sure to stay in contact with your employer in regards to your schedule.
Okay, I have my schedule…but the kids are still here, so now what?
Whether your child is a year old or 15, utilize naptime as much as you can. When working from home, it is extremely important to focus on your work as much as possible and to try and be in that mode. Even if you have a child who is anti-naps, quiet time is just as good of an option that allows you to still have the space you need to work.
Our naptime schedule during breaks usually goes from Noon until 2:30 pm. It is about the length of time they take a nap in daycare. Because our one-year-old is in the I love to sleep when I want phase, she could easily fall asleep at 11 am and not wake until 2:30. Whereas our five and seven-year-olds prefer a two-hour quiet time.
As a working parent, sometimes you just can’t be there. Even if you are in the same space where you are having to parent and work, please understand that even those of us who have done it for years still face difficulty. Do not beat yourself up about, you are only human.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.