I just received news that I will be working from home with kids for god knows how long. My kid’s schools will be closing starting Monday until at least the end of March. Also, I just literally started a new job earlier this week. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe a little of both.
I’m sure so many of you are in the same boat. Maybe you’ve been required to work from home, or maybe you’re choosing to telecommute for obvious reasons. Or perhaps you’re currently searching for an online, flexible job.
So, what now? You’ve got work to do. But how exactly are you going to get it done with noisy, needy, albeit cute, kiddos around?
Read below for my top five tips for working from home with kids:
Tip #1: Stay calm (and keep laughing)
It almost seems ridiculous for me to even write this, but try not to panic. I know everyone around you is panicking. But panicking is probably much more contagious than the Coronavirus itself. If you are constantly watching the news or looking at your social media feeds, try turning them off for a bit. It’s important to educate yourself about trying to stay healthy, but after you receive the important updates take a break from the media.
Dig deep in your toolkit of self-care. For example, try to re-frame negative, unproductive thoughts. Rather than telling yourself “This is horrible! What if this continues for a year or more and I lose my job? How am I going to get any work done?”
Instead, say something like “This is scary, but I’m not going to let my fear overpower me. I can’t control the outcome, but I can try to live in the present and practice acceptance of the unknown.”
For me personally, I like to listen to smooth jazz. There’s nothin’ like a little Kenny G (and a nice glass of pinot noir) to relax and soothe my soul. Are you a yoga fan? Try waking up early in the morning before the kiddos or fur babies and get in a few minutes of deep breathing and stretching to start your day off on the right foot. The point is, do what works for you to survive the next few weeks or (gulp) months ahead.
Tip #2: Plan activities
We all know what happens when kids are bored and stuck in the house, and it’s not pretty at all. Not one bit. Rather than picturing horrible scenarios in your head of your kids hanging from the chandeliers, or using your newly painted walls as a chalkboard, generate some productive activities.
For example, if your kids are ages six and up, a simple deck of cards can be a great form of entertainment. Simple games like Old Maid, Snap, Go Fish, or even Memory are great options.
If going outdoors is possible, try taking walks and playing an I-spy game. Or go outside with your kids and let them get their energy out while you sit close by and work on your lap top.
Yesterday my kids entertained themselves for over an hour “sweeping the sidewalk” while I sat near them on my computer. I find that just getting outdoors and breathing in some fresh air can do wonders for everyone’s mood.
Arts and crafts are also a wonderful way to distract kids. From coloring to painting to making collages, there are literally SO many creative art projects to be done. If your kids get tired of painting, have them paint new objects like rocks or pine cones.
Also, if you need to have a little more screen time in the coming weeks so that you can get some work done, don’t feel too guilty. Sometimes you do what you have to do. If your kids watch a little extra TV, they will not be permanently scarred.
Tip #3: Communicate
Whether it’s with your boss or your employees, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. You might be scared about the future of your job. Rather than make assumptions, have a conversation with your manager.
Be open and honest about what you think you can accomplish in the coming weeks in terms of workload. If heaven forbid, you lose your job, it will suck. A lot. But your life will go on. You’ll find a way to recover and you will get another job and/or find a way to supplement your income in the near-term.
If you’re a manager and your employees are asking you questions that you don’t have an answer to, it’s okay to say “I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.
See related: Top Five Flexible Jobs for Full-Time Moms and The Ultimate Guide to Job Search
Tip #4: Set a schedule
Filling an entire day with kids can be overwhelming. Try brainstorming what your day could look like moving forward with this new reality. You will be home. Your kids will be home too (remember, deep breaths!). Get a giant post it note, chalk or white board, or even a scratch piece of paper. Write out a tentative daily schedule.
If you have a partner who will either be working from home with you, or continuing to go into an office, can you swap some time to work while they care for the kiddos? For example, you could wake up a little earlier and work from 6 or 7am until 9am while your spouse takes the morning shift. Or conversely, your partner could take the evening shift, allowing you to work into the night.
If you don’t have that option and / or you’ve got younger kids, try to work while they nap. Maybe you’re saying to yourself “but my kids no longer nap!!!” If that’s the case, make a new daily schedule and infuse some quiet time for an hour or more where your kids can play and you can work.
See related: Create a Productive Work From Home Schedule in Four Simple Steps
Tip #5: Take it one day at a time
This is a new and uncertain situation for all of us. You’re going to have productive days, and you’re going to have days where you get little done. Give yourself some grace. Take it hour by hour, and day by day. Do as much as you can, and then let yourself off the hook. Try to do at least one thing per day just for you, whether it’s 10 minutes of yoga, or a quick walk.
Working from home with kids is not ideal, but it can be done. Remember to breathe. Try not to think about the “what if’s.” Just focus on surviving in the present and getting as much done each day as possible.
Want ideas of ways to earn a little extra money while stuck at home? Check out 30 Scam-Free Side Hustles 2020!