Two words: duct tape.
Sheesh, just kiddinggggg.
Working from home with kids is no joke though. I’ve personally found myself feeling jealous of my kidless coworkers being able to sit down with their steaming cup of coffee after waking up precisely when they intended to and getting a morning workout in, of course. Whereas some mornings I find I can’t put my sweatpants on and pour the cereal fast enough before I start hearing the Slack “tap-tap-tap on your shoulder” sound coming from my laptop on the kitchen counter.
As someone who works full-time from home with my husband and two small children, I’ve come to feel like visiting my office in person is like going to a work spa where the luxury is being able to sit at my relatively clean dest being relatively uninterrupted for most of the day.
And for those of you who are finding yourself missing that luxury right now, I wanted to share a few tips about working from home with your kids that may come in handy over the next few months.
It’s a whirlwind, but we’ll make it work.
Talk to your boss about flexibility of hours
Most of the people I work with have come to understand that I typically step away from my computer in the afternoons and pick up work again after bedtime. Do I do this every day? No, it depends on the urgency of different projects I’m working on. But if I do have the option to finish things at night and have a few extra hours to spend with the kids, I take it. They’re only young once.
The key here is being able to communicate with your coworkers and boss when you’ll be available. Ask your boss if you’re able to have some flexibility in your hours while you’re working from home with your family.
Be clear about when you’re available and when you’re not
Once you get the green flag from your boss, then communicate with your coworkers. This way, if they ping you “after hours” you don’t need to feel obligated to respond that very minute. You’ll get back to them when you’re online again.
One of the new things we’ve been doing here at Scouted since we’ve gone fully remote is saying “Hello!” in the mornings when we officially start our workday. In the same way, we also say, “Signing off!” in the evening. This helps to give a clear picture of our availability as well as help us not work around the clock since where we work is now where we live, also.
Leave the room (if you can)
Being able to leave the room to work depends a lot on how old your kids are as well as the help you have available. I’m lucky to have my husband at home to help support me while I work so I can be in another room to focus. If you have older kids, potentially ask them to supervise while you work heads-down for an hour in another room. If you have a partner at home, try working it out so that each of you gets at least a couple hours of heads-down work time each day by trading off the time you work from the kitchen table while also supervising and entertaining.
Prioritize your tasks
You’re going to have interruptions throughout the day, it’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when.”
That being the case, be sure to prioritize your tasks and start on the most important ones first. Map out the things you hope to get done each day and in the order you should get them done.
That way you don’t spend too much time in your inbox and then have a difficult time finishing an important project later.
Ask for help
We’re in a unique time where we’re unable to have “mother’s helpers” or grandparents come over to be with the kids while we work from home. We really do have to get creative with how we multitask being parents while simultaneously doing our jobs. Do your best to assess your situation and ask for help wherever possible.
Wherever you are, be all in
It can be really easy to feel tied to your computer throughout the day. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is look at my kids like they’re an interruption.
But to be honest, the feeling is almost inevitable if you’re always trying to work at the same time as being a parent. Sometimes you really need to get that email out by 3, and sometimes your kids will act like they’re going to die of starvation if they don’t get a snack precisely at 2:55.
The point here is to be intentional, wherever you decide to put your focus. If it’s on work, try communicating with the kids that they need to have a snack now and no more for the next hour because it’s work time. Then, after work time, be all in with the kids. Play games, go in the back yard, make physical contact and give them hugs. They miss that whether they know it or not. If you’re able to separate the two and be “all in” with each, you’ll feel way less stressed and frustrated throughout the day, I promise.
Communicate when you need to just be with the kids
Depending on your work’s culture, you may have coworkers that work into the night and ping you during your designated family time. Or you may have meetings scheduled during when you need to do this new homeschooling thing.
Whatever the case, communication is so important. If there’s a meeting you know conflicts with your schedule ahead of time, communicate that as soon as possible. Make sure your coworkers know when you need to be offline and when they can expect you to be available again.
Enjoy this time
There’s no question that we wish working at home with our family came under different circumstances. But we all know this is something you had previously wished you got to do more. Working from home with your kids is a temporary situation that can feel frustrating at times, but is also an opportunity to be with the ones you love most more than you ever could before.
Enjoy the extra time you now have with your family and be intentional about the little things each day.
We’ll see you on the flip side.
What are your tips on working from home? Leave them in the comments below!