We’re deep into a different way of life that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. As many parents found themselves working from home while children had remote schooling, the need to balance family time and work became a necessary challenge.
Now, as work-from-home parents are faced with a new way of life, the need to establish a sustainable routine is huge. Quick fixes won’t allow you to remain productive day-in and day-out while your children are home and while you’re also playing the role of “assistant teacher.”
Five ways to maintain productivity while working from home with children
You’ll need to build in balance and rules. Try the following to establish a routine that works for everyone in your family:
- Break work down into chunks. Some of your to-do list requires your full focus, and some tasks you can do while cartoons are on in the background. Previously, your in-office work setting gave you the chance to carve out hours at a time to get your work done, but your home office probably doesn’t allow you the same luxury. You’ll need to adjust how you think about your tasks. Break your work up into smaller chunks of time—give yourself 30 minutes or so for tasks that require your full concentration, choose times when your kids are doing their classwork, focus on a show or a toy, etc.
- Use self–pep talks. Transitioning from making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to presenting on a Zoom call can be tricky. It takes some practice switching from parent mode to professional mode and back again. Jot down a few motivational words you can keep on a post-it near your computer. And when it’s time to put down the peanut butter and log into the Zoom call, you can read them to get yourself back into work mode.
- Always take breaks. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re on the clock around the clock. Schedule time to take 10-minute and lunch breaks and stick to them. These are a perfect time to check in with your kids and spouse, relax and enjoy your time together.
- Keep a schedule. Every day, schedule what is happening at what time—for you, your spouse, and your children. This includes the time when you have meetings, and your spouse will need to be the parent-in-charge, and vice versa; times when your children can ask questions about assignments; breaks; and when you’ll sign out for the day.
- Encourage independence. This situation creates important teachable moments: children can take the opportunity to problem solve and build independence, rather than relying on you and your spouse for answers to every question. Of course, you’ll need to set limits (for example, cooking their own lunch is not allowed, but choosing what they’d like for lunch is fine). But giving your children some freedom to think for themselves and make their own choices is healthy in their growth and development.
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