As schools shut all across the nation as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and many workplaces are allowing their employees to work remotely, many parents are wondering how the heck they’re going to watch their kids AND get work done. Working from home is actually becoming increasingly popular these days thanks to new advances in technology, video conferencing and group work task management platforms. But for the working parent not accustomed to working from home, this chaotic period can be frustrating and challenging.
I’ve been working from home for the past six years (ever since my oldest son was born). My industry (publishing and social media) has allowed me the opportunity to work from home as I raise my three littles (my other son is three and my daughter is 22 months). Yes, it’s challenging and chaotic at home, but I’ve learned some tips along the way that could be very helpful for those who find themselves in this unknown territory of working from home.
Work Early In The Morning
The best time to get some uninterrupted work done is right before your kids wake up. Every parent has an idea of what time their kids usually wake up (which will most likely the usual time they wake for school), so as long as you wake up an hour before them, you can get in some extra work that requires you to be focused. Aim for two hours is you really need more time.
Or Work Late At Night
Some people aren’t early risers and can’t drag themselves out of bed when their alarm clock goes off. If this is you, put the beds to sleep early and then get your work done then. The only problem with working later at night is that you might be too tired after a draining day with the kids to finish it all. If anything, you can always wake up at least an hour earlier to get some things finished and then complete the rest once they’ve gone to bed.
Create A Schedule
To make sure you get important tasks done for work, you might want to create a schedule. This includes blocking out time cleaning, cooking, being present with your kids, doing some schoolwork or activities and then letting them have some free time, which is where you’ll be able to pencil in some extra work. A schedule will help you stay on track for the rest of your day and allow you to get in some work during the day when your kids are at home with you.
Work In The Kitchen
I know experts say you should have a designated space to work when you’re at home (like an office, desk in a room, etc.), but when you’re a work-from-home mom, you have to set up anywhere your kids are to be able to also watch over them. It’s all about being realistic and making the most of your environment when you’re a work-from-home parent. My favorite place is working in the kitchen. This allows me to supervise them as they play downstairs in the kitchen with me or the family room. I can help them with anything they need without being too far from my computer and I can do small tasks like emails or research (which don’t require too much focus) as I’m also tending to the littles. I usually save the work that requires me to be 100% focused early in the morning or at night (once they’re asleep or when my husband gets home to help).
Always Have Some Form Of Communication With Your Office
When you work from home, you still need to do your work (obviously), which is why it’s 1000% imperative that you stay in contact with your office, boss, employees or co-workers throughout the day. This can be via email or some designated project management platform like Slack, Asana, Trello or the like. These platforms allow you to communicate in real time, allowing the flow of communication to be easier when you’re remote. It’s usually best to let them know what you’ll be working on for the day in the morning and your schedule so that if they need to reach you during a time when you’re going to be away from your computer, they can text you. At the end of the day, communicate with your team again, but with what was done, any questions or concerns you have and what’s on the agenda for tomorrow if need be. When everyone is on the same page about things related to work, your work-from-home duties will be much easier, less stressful and more manageable.
Learn To Go With The Flow
Working from home is definitely a blessing and a challenge if you have kids – no matter if we’re all dealing with a global pandemic or if it’s your daily norm. What I’ve learned over the years is that as much as plan to follow a schedule, sometimes you just need to go with the flow – and be okay with it. Your kids might have a different agenda for the day and you’re just going to have to roll with the punches to deal with work and their needs. This also helps you get less frustrated or stress when you can’t get in work at a specific time because the kids are bugging for a snack, need extra help with a task or the like.