I’ve seen countless ‘how to work from home with kids’ articles from people who after suffering through a couple months started to figure out some tips and tricks. I then realized- wait a second! My team and I have been 100% remote working for 8 years, most of us with young children and quite frankly, are damn good at it. Here’s our list of not just tips, but essentials to working from home with kids:
1. You MUST have a separate work space, with a desk, a strong wifi signal, a chair that’s good for your posture, a monitor(s), wireless keyboard and mouse set up on your lap top and a door with a lock. We have seen it time and time again people trying to cut corners on this set up and it not only impacted production but it impacts sanity.
2. Pro-actively communicate reality and needs with partner, kids and bosses. There needs to be a balance between planning and flexibility, without it you will be creating an inevitable state of chaos for yourself. Partners need to understand BOTH of your demands of work and family life are equally important and challenging and no one should assume otherwise. Kids need to understand limitations, when Mom/Dad are working they are not to be interrupted unless it’s a true emergency and as a result when you’re not working and with family you too will not allow for interruptions from them with work. Your boss should not only know your challenges, but you also should present your solution. That approach will create a mutual respect of trust that can enable you the flexibility you need.
3. Dedicate an hour at the end of each week to create the following week’s schedule. Be ok with the priority order of family, health, work, fun and extracurricular. Approach your week in a block format on the calendar, be it by the hour, half hour or even 15 min. This process will force a dialogue between you and anyone in your life who shares responsibilities of kids, home and activities. Be open to you and your partner alternating work every 2 hours and be open to working either super early or late in the evenings. An example of this would be: I plug in my kids doctors appointments and the mornings I cover managing online school, then I plug in my personal appointments, then based on a schedule my husband and I discussed I plug in my work hours, whatever is left I add in the fun stuff or fun plans that are a reprieve from home and professional work life. I especially leave some do absolutely nothing time during nights and weekends.
4. Get creative when it comes to getting you and your family out of the house. Part of adjusting to the life of a hermit (let’s call it what it is) is to have things to look forward to in the future outside of the home, especially on the weekends. Covid is making this an even greater challenge of course. AirBnB Trips to mountain, beach and farm areas. Rent an RV and strategically plan unique stops. With your trusted inner circle have yard camp outs, cook outs, family sleepovers. Set up an outdoor movie theater with a projector, lap top and white bed sheet. Family bike rides, basketball games, even make believe pirates on the playground.
5. And maybe most importantly, let go of guilt. It’s a useless, unproductive emotion. Be happy that you’ve genuinely done the best you can with all the demands of life and continue to do your best. Control what you can, which is ONLY you, and let go of what you can’t control.