I’ve been working from home, at least part-time, for as long as I’ve been a parent (9 years). I’ve always been asked how I can get a full day of work done, and while I’ll admit some days are harder than others, and some children are easier to accomplish this with than others, it can be done.
Here are my general tips to success:
- Be realistic. Don’t plan for large blocks of uninterrupted working time while the children are home/awake. I only plan for 1 or 1.5 hour blocks of work at a time, unless my children are sleeping.
- Be flexible. Sometimes the nap you relied on for work time doesn’t happen, or is shorter than you thought. Regroup by either working a little later in the evening, or wake up a little earlier the next morning to recoup that time.
- Plan sensibly. If the kids are running around, screaming, etc., you will likely not be able to accomplish much work, except mindless/menial tasks. Plan your more thoughtful/intense work when you can count on your children sleeping or being quiet. This can often mean that, as a practice, you wake up early or stay up late. Some people don’t like this as a lifestyle but for me it has afforded me the ability to be at home with my kids, so it is a sacrifice I’m very willing to make for the tradeoff.
- Be proactive, not reactive. I find I get agitated with my children when they interrupt my work time. I know they get antsy at certain times and hungry almost all of the time. To help minimize the interruptions, pre-plan lots of breaks for activity, make snacks easily accessible in the kitchen, and set out materials that are easily accessible for them so they’re not constantly asking you for paper, markers, or legos.
Since many parents will be home with their children for the next few weeks, I’ve created a sample schedule for the parent who is able to work from home during this time. Different ages of children will adapt to this schedule differently. My three year old will obviously not be doing math problems, so he will likely have a coloring book while my 6 year old works on addition and my 9 year old works on her multiplication problems. Adjust your schedule as needed for your child’s/children’s learning level(s).
Please share this with any parents you know who are stressing about how to effectively balance their work time at home. I also plan on sharing activity ideas as well as workout ideas in the upcoming days, so stay tuned!