12 Tips for Working From Home When You Have Young Kids
Staying home and social distancing is challenging for everyone. However, parents with young children have it especially tough.
Older kids can generally indulge in self-directed learning with some supervision. But young children need multiple touchpoints and constant redirection, whether you’re working or not.
Surviving the coronavirus outbreak means protecting our health, minds, and our livelihoods. It also means figuring out how to work from home with young kids underfoot.
Here are 12 tips for finding your balance and working remotely with kids.
1. Set Up a Designated Workspace
Get set up for success with an optimized work from home office. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of space. You just need a comfortable work area that keeps you productive. A small nook, countertop, or corner of your bedroom that can fit a desk will work.
Small kids likely need more supervision throughout your workday. Set up your home office to be within sight of their play area, and throw in some headphones to drown out the noise.
2. Find Your Productive Hours
Every minute counts when you’re working with young kids at home. Waking pre-dawn or staying up late is a good work-from-home survival strategy. Schedule your meetings and most important tasks during nap time or quiet play.
Focusing is difficult when you’re switching between parent duty and work. Grab some earbuds and batch your work in chunks with frequent breaks. That’ll help you to maintain balance.
3. Communicate with Your Managers and Colleagues
The entire world is trying to maintain social distance, with some sheltering in place. Colleagues and managers understand that, just like them, you have no choice in the matter. Let your team know in advance that a conference call or video chat may occasionally include interruptions from the kids.
It’s also essential to remind your team that you are suddenly homeschooling, too. You may need to find new ways to communicate with each other, such as through Slack or Loom, to help organize your work.
4. Take Small Breaks Throughout the Day
A pandemic is not the time to flex your workaholic muscles and plow through the day with kids in tow. Breaks are essential to the whole family.
Block off 10- to 15-minute breaks on your work calendar. That way, your colleagues know when you’re unavailable.
Make time to play and touch base with your kids during breaks. They’re more likely to give you space later if they understand parts of the day are just for them.
A working lunch break is also an ideal time to catch up on family chores and tasks.
5. Make the Most of Music
Are your kids watching Frozen 2 for the 15th time this week? Pop in those headphones and put on the music that keeps you the most productive. If you can stay focused, try a podcast to keep your mind active.
6. Invest in Great Toys
We’re all just trying to keep afloat during the coronavirus crisis. Loosen up your restrictions on toys. Invest in options that keep the kids busy. STEM options and creativity kits generally keep kids busy for hours.
7. Give the Kids Structured Activities
Small children need structure and routine. Plan a flexible itinerary that blends learning, apps, playtime, and snacks.
Then, if you can, take a walk together. Practice social distancing by giving them a task like counting how many green things they see on a walk.
8. Take Advantage of the Free Stuff
Take advantage of the scores of free content streaming from kids’ museums, libraries, and music centers to keep kids busy.
Staying home is also a good time to explore your kids’ interests. From trains to zoos, there are endless YouTube videos to explore.
9. Recruit Reinforcements
It’s essential to reach out and ask for help during social distancing. Switching off kid duty with a spouse or partner can help you to maintain work balance.
You can also ask a grandparent, relative, or friend to Skype with your kids for 10 or 20 minutes to chat or read them a story.
10. Give Them a Job
Kids of all ages can perform jobs and small tasks. Toddlers can put paperclips in a cup or box to help organize your desk.
Younger elementary kids can learn to do the laundry and organize their books. Take time to praise their hard work. That’ll help keep the momentum going.
11. Readjust Your Expectations
The world is in unchartered territory trying to stay home and social distance with kids, work, and other commitments to juggle. Readjust your expectations for a successful day. Simply getting through the day and hitting your deadlines is a big win.
12. Enjoy the Time
We don’t have much choice but to keep our heads high and get through this time staying home. Make the most of it by embracing the extra time with your kids that you’ve been missing. They’re only little once, and one day, you might even look back on this challenging time as cherished bonding you’ll never forget.