Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown, most people are working from home. While many people are managing just fine, the same cannot be said for those who have kids. If you’re a parent, working from home with your kids around, who want to be entertained all the time or have snacks every hour, can be challenging. Children demand attention 24-7 and parenting while meeting tight deadlines, responding to endless emails, and attending conference calls every two hours can be hard. As this disease is spreading rapidly, we don’t know for how long we will have to stay cooped up in our homes and you may have to work from while attending to your kids’ demands. But do not panic, working from home while under quarantine with kids can be fun if you know how to make it fun.
How to Work From Home With Kids When Under Quarantine
Here are some tips for staying productive while working from home with children during coronavirus.
1. Designate an area for your ‘home office’.
Yes, you want to keep an eye on your children all the time while you are at home, but the noise and their fun can be a distraction for you. This is why having a designated ‘work space’ in your home is necessary. Trust us, while working in your kitchen and using the kitchen table as work table sounds fun, but it’s not the optimal work area. If your kids are on the naughtier side, you will have to keep your files, laptop, and other work-related things out of their reach. So choose a well-lit area of your house that can be your home office. Keep a small table and place a drawer underneath to store your files and records. Keep it clutter-free and organised.
You can also make a small work space for your kids in your home office. Set up a small table and stock it with things like paper, pens, colours, pencils, tape, and stickers. This will buy you some time to focus while not worrying about the kid. This way, they will always be able to see you.
2. Work when your kids are asleep.
If you are working from home with toddlers, then you can use their sleeping schedule or napping hours to your advantage. While your kids sleep for two to three hours in the afternoon, you can have uninterrupted time to concentrate on your work. Utilise this time to get important tasks done. Save these hours for doing tasks that need your complete focus. You can do this by doing low-priority or less challenging tasks when the kids are awake and scheduling work or calls on a significant project while they are asleep.
If your children are in their teen years, they won’t take naps during afternoon hours. In such a case, ask them to read or play silently, or clean the house. This way they learn something new without disturbing you. Make the most of this time by focussing on important work. Despite your perfect plans, there will be days when things won’t go as planned, but it’s okay. Don’t stress yourselves, do as much as you can.
3. Make a boredom box.
This can be a lifesaver on days when all your strategies to keep your children occupied fail to work. Simply create a boredom box, which can be a box full of activities or crafts based on your children’s interest. This will help your kids play in a specific way or create certain projects. The boredom box would contain things your children are sure to like. For example, if your kid like crafts, then the box would contain things like glue, straws, paper, glitter, paints, stickers, buttons, yarn, and the other things in your home that you think are relevant. After you have assembled these things, you can ask them to make cards or something else. This will keep your children happily occupied while you work from home.
4. Talk to your children.
Your children can see that you’re on an important call, but that shall not stop them from bursting into your room and crying and complaining about something their sibling did. Yes, this may sound funny, but it’s not funny when you actually have to face this situation. You’re left shushing your toddler while your boss awaits your bright ideas. If you’re ever faced with such a situation, quickly press the ‘mute’ button on your smart phone. Trust, us, it’s a smart choice. But the best thing you can do is talk to your children about it.
You can use the power of repetition to teach your children what not to do when they are left alone for a while. First, tell them what tasks during your work should not be interrupted and what activity they should be doing during this time. Pretend to have a meeting or call to see how your kids react and go through this drill more than one time. Reward and praise them when they get it right and gently guide them if they do not. The more you practice, the more your kids will learn. Good behaviour never comes overnight; it takes patience and practice. So be a little patient with your kid while you teach how to behave.
5. Show your commitment.
When you are working from home, it is important that you stay committed to your job and to your boss. Let them know that you are productive and quick with work like always. One example to show your commitment is by responding to their emails quickly or as early as possible. Though most people like working in pyjamas, you might find that your productivity and confidence level is increased when you are dressed professionally. This will also let your kids know that when you are dressed in office-wear, you are doing office work, and that they should not interrupt during important calls.
6. Make time for your family.
Now that everyone is at home, it is the perfect time to invest some time in your family and kids. You are more likely to get quality work time if you give your children attention for even 20 minutes every couple of hours. If you give them some attention, they are likely to be happy for a long time and won’t disturb you while you work. These breaks will also be refreshing for you while working and help you feel good about yourself. It will give you confidence that you can manage work, home, and kids. So, cuddle up with your kids and read a few short stories to them or sit on the floor and play block games with them while you have got the opportunity.
7. Let your kids make a few decisions.
Giving your children a chance to make their own choices will make them confident and independent. Let them decide what they would like to wear, what games they would like to play or which storybooks they would like to read. Give them a chance to make a few snacks (which do not need gas or playing with fire) for themselves and eat on their own. When they do these simple tasks on their own, you will get time to work without interruptions. You could also create a list of activities to do so that your children can follow the list.
For younger children, you can pack some food and leave it in the fridge and ask them to finish it by 2 pm. For older children, you can have them put a few ingredients together to make less-complicated meals. This would teach them to become independent.
8. Use tricks that work for you.
There’s always one thing that can stop your child’s incessant cries – it can be his favourite cartoon on television or eating his favourite chocolate. As a parent, you know what works best with your children. If watching their favourite cartoons can stop your kids from disturbing you while you’re busy with work, then let them watch, and don’t feel guilty about resorting to such techniques to keep your children occupied. If there is an important conference call or meeting coming up, then simply turn on the TV and give them a few snacks. This will keep them occupied for a while and will help you focus on the meeting. As long as their screen time is limited, it’s okay if you let them enjoy a few cartoons.
9. Communicate with your partner.
If your partner or spouse is at home, then it is important to communicate with your partner about responsibilities so that you both are on the same page with regards to your needs and expectations. This will help in cases when either one of you has heavy deadlines or meetings. Another great idea is to hang a sign on your office door when you are on an important call or meeting so that your family knows that it is not a good time to interrupt. You could also use silly props like capes or toys when you are on an important call and tell your kids that every time you use those, you should not be interrupted. These are very powerful signals for your children.
10. Plan ahead.
Always try to finish your work a few hours earlier instead of waiting till the last minute. If possible, you can take control of your own work from home mom schedule and create your own deadlines. Procrastinating never helps, and if you have children, it’s best to not leave the work for the next day. You never know what emergencies might come, so get your work done on time, in fact before time.
Taking care of children and attending to their constant demands while working from home can be difficult, but it is possible. The tips we have shared above will help – use them to your advantage and have a perfect work-life balance at home. Talk to your partner and share responsibilities. Divide housework and take turns to watch your children. It’s a difficult time, but remember that it’s during this time that you will get the chance to bond with your kids and family members. Make the most of it; don’t stress about work. Set a routine and get your work done in scheduled time. And then spend all your time with your loved ones.