The coronavirus outbreak has an unexpected impact on the business world. The pandemic has mobilized the entire world to take up the challenge of remote work.
When schools and institutions are being closed, border traffic is limited and you’re stuck at home with kids, working remotely seems to be almost impossible.
While it’s easy with teenagers, who can easily take care of themselves, working remotely with smaller kids (or newborns) is a real challenge. They need constant attention and you have to make sure they are safe. Leaving them out of sight just for a minute can result in Armageddon.
If you have an easy-going child, you’re lucky, but things get complicated if your children are unruly and ubiquitous. One second is enough to let all hell break loose
If you’re a parent who needs to work remotely and take care of your kids at the same time, we’ve prepared a guide for working parents on how to survive at home with kids.
Remote Work for Parents: Practical Tips
Working from home with your kids around is possible. All you need is the right strategic plan and a little bit of creativity. If you’ve run out of ideas and don’t know how to balance parenting with remote work, here are small but extremely effective tips and hacks and that will help you survive.
Whether you’ve just switched to remote working or are a veteran of telecommuting, these practical tips will help you tame your kids’ energy and focus on your work. Rearrange them, combine, and change to create your perfect plan for surviving remote work with minors.
1. Teach Your Kids How to Organize Day
Routine in remote work is crucial. But it’s hard to talk about a consistent program of daily telework when you constantly need to calm your children down.
Engage your entire family in a daily routine – time for breakfast, time for playing together, time for watching tv, time only for yourself, and so on.
It’s also a good idea to teach kids to perform daily chores such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floors, cleaning their room. Not only will it keep your children busy but, above will, teach them responsibility, discipline, and show them what it means to work hard.
And at the end of the day, talk with your family about achievements; what did they do today? How did they do it? It will motivate them to share their experiences, ask for help, and get more creative with their free time.
2. Create a Dedicated Space
A home office cannot be a home office without a physical, customized area. You can easily arrange a space dedicated to work. It doesn’t even have to be a separate room. Although it’s important that it’s in a quiet and bright location in your house so you can focus on your work.
Your home office can be a desk or a small table in an undisturbed location in your house.
Also, make sure to include the essential elements in your environment when you work from home:
- Desk and a comfortable chair – they should both have the appropriate width and height. It can help you avoid back, leg, and hand pain
- A computer monitor or a laptop stand – for safe and healthy distance and proper size of apps and tools you use on your computer, your eyes will thank you for that!
- A good mouse and keyboard for comfortable hands movement – it will prevent you from experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome and wrist problems
- File and stationery organizer – to keep your desk tidy, it will help you focus and easily find what you’re looking for in your papers
- Noise-canceling headphones will let you focus when your kids are screaming while playing and running around the house
- A board where you will keep all small notes, including sticky notes
- Don’t forget about a good coffee maker to help you stay awake during long days
Don’t forget that your home bureau should let you keep an eye on your little loved ones.
💡 PRO TIP: Transform part of your office space into a kid’s office. It can be a place where your children will learn, read books or do homework – a place for focus and attention.
At the same time, you will easily keep an eye on them (and spend some time together).
3. Schedule Deep Work and Shallow Work Time
Cal Newport distinguishes between deep work and shallow work. But how to implement this concept into your daily work routine when you have to take care of kids?
For deep work time, use the time when children are not around. You can try to get up early and work before the rest of the family wakes up or work when kids are already in bed. Also, deep work when your kids are preoccupied with themselves or busy playing games.
During that time focus solely on the important tasks and avoid distractions at all costs.
For shallow work time do small tasks when you don’t have to be focused. Read emails and do minor work when your children need more attention.
It’s a simple division but can help you do a lot in a short time.
4. Use Your Free Time to Rest (and Reset)
It’s evening and your kids are finally in bed. You’re surrounded by silence and stillness. It sounds like a perfect time to accomplish your goals but you’re tired and having trouble keeping your eyes open. Your inner voice tells you to ‘work, work, work’ but your body says ‘sleeeeep’. What will your choice be?
Don’t overwork yourself and don’t take on too much work in one day because you will quickly burn out. It’s okay to go to bed earlier and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and relaxed.
It’s also okay to take a 20-minute nap in the middle of the day when you’re exhausted. It will give you an energy kick for the rest of the day.
If you need a break from work during the day (we all do) take your kids for a quick walk. You will enjoy the fresh air and the little devils will lose some of their energy having fun in the playground.
5. Always Be Prepared for E-Meetings
Remote work requires constant communication and video calls. How to make sure your e-meetings are successful and valuable when you’re a parent and need to watch your kids?
Prepare yourself. Make a checklist of what you want to discuss with your team. An agenda or a list of topics will help you concentrate even with your kid running around.
Remember that it’s okay to have your kid with you in the room during e-meetings. After all, we are all just humans and need a little empathy. Especially for parents who have to do their job and babysit kids.
6. Use Technology
It’s the technology that made remote working available in the first place. So why not use it to your advantage?
There are many tools that can significantly improve your productivity:
TIME TRACKING SOFTWARE: can help you become more productive and measure the exact number of hours you spend on tasks and projects and improve productivity. Time tracking software lets you analyze and understand how and when you work so you can better prioritize and organize activities.
TASK MANAGEMENT APPS: help organize and structure your work in the most efficient way. Additionally, you can use them with your team to streamline the workflow, delegate tasks, and optimize processes. It’s the best way to communicate and collaborate when you work from home.
APPS BLOCKING DISTRACTING WEBSITES: distractions are one of the main reasons for low productivity. If you find it difficult to disconnect from social media or news websites for a couple of hours, block them. And don’t forget to put your phone away.
MUSIC APPS: for many people, music stimulates creativity. With dedicated playlists, you can get in the right mood and silence your kids scream all at once (of course, if the situation is right) to stay focused. You can either listen to online productivity playlists on such platforms as YouTube or Spotify or create your own (and share it with your kids)
Just be careful, listening to music is not good for problem-solving tasks.
ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT: such as safety gates for stairs, video baby monitors – these let you have an eye on your child while you are working in your home bureau.
Then there are proper headphones, camera, printer, USB flash drive, and many more to choose from. All these tools will make it easier to work from home as you will have everything on hand.
7. Join the Workspace With On-site Childcare
Although they are not that popular yet, there are coworking offices that offer on-site childcare. It’s still a rarity but sooner or later, their popularity will grow to meet the need of remote working parents.
You can also try to look for a place where your kids can play while you are working or consider sending them to primary school.
8. Swap Roles With Your Partner
Raising a child is a huge responsibility that requires the involvement of both parents. If you and your partner are working from home, you can schedule hours during which one of you works and the other takes care of kids.
However, if you’re not so lucky and one of you works outside of the home, the challenge is bigger. You can still try to tackle this problem by sharing responsibilities and helping each other.
Another option is switching weekends for free days in the workweek so when your partner stays home and takes care of kids, you work like no one’s watching.
Or you can combine different options, experiment to see what’s best for your family.
9. Engage Kids in Your Work
Working remotely can be a great chance to spend time with your children and strengthen family bonds.
If your kids are old enough to accompany you during your office hours, you can show them how you work. If possible, you can even try to involve them in small tasks. It will make them feel special, appreciated, and will teach them accountability.
By showing your kid why and how you’re working from home, you also contribute to their education. Maybe someday your child will become a great project manager because of the fancy project management you showed him while working.
Engaging kids in your work can awaken their interest in creative activities and ignite a passion for knowledge.
10. Organize Entertainment Time for Kids
Being a remotely working parent requires not only your time and attention but also creativity.
One of the best ways to tame the little devils running and screaming around is to organize their time so they don’t feel boredom. And there are several interesting activities:
- Quality screen time during which your kids can watch cartoons or play video games; choose quality programs that educate kids and help them understand how the world works; also, limit the screen hours to 1 hour a day to balance it with other activities
- Books – if you introduce your kids to the wonderful world of children’s literature, they will be completely absorbed by it
- Board games – time flies when playing them, they bring a lot of laughter, and educate
- You can also use some of the team building games and adjust the rules to your kids’ age; it is a great way to enhance their team building and problem-solving skills
- Playing an instrument – this hobby can be a bit loud but after some time you will have a real maestro in the house!
- Building robots and coding – for those kids that enjoy experimenting and manual activities. It’s a fantastic way to introduce your small engineer to the world of science. Special kits are available on Amazon and in dedicated stores
- Doing puzzles, writing stories, doing DIY activities, coloring books, building LEGO, and many, many more
Such activities inspire children to learn and discover new things, teach a healthy rivalry, and encourage to master their skills.
To Wrap It Up
Being a parent doesn’t mean you have to give up your job. There are many ways to organize time around each other’s schedules. It’s challenging but definitely rewarding. Working from home with your children around is possible and not that difficult.
Are you a parent working at home? What are your tips for taming your kids and keeping sanity in your home office? Let us in the comments, we’d love to know how you handle this issue!
In this difficult time, stay at home with your family and use the free time for family-building activities. And remember to apply to the WHO rules to keep your family and kids safe!