So you are working from home with kids in tow… now what? If you’re like many of us, working from home and caregiving, we’re hoping some of these tips can help allow for time to do both. Likely at the same time! The Après remote team shares some tips to keep you and your family organized as we transition from office to home base.
p.s., Today our team held its first meeting post everything closing and several of us “sheltering in place.” There were kids, dogs, brainstorms. It was beautiful, messy, and very, very productive.
1. Take a Deep Breath
This time of uncertainty is going to be challenging. Keeping your mental health and physical health a priority will allow you to care for your family the best way possible. Find out your “must dos” and protect that time. Whether it is yoga, meditation (10 best meditation apps), a walk around the block, or catching up on a favorite TV show, keep your sanity needs a priority. This includes good sleep. Whatever you need to do to make sure everyone is sleeping well — do it. Sleep is the #1 thing you can do for your health. You’re going to need it to manage everyone’s emotions.
What needs to be accomplished now? What does not? The first thing we’re doing is taking non-essential tasks off of our plates as a team, pushing back passion projects and focusing on what needs to be done now. This will help create more time for working from home with children who will have questions and need input on work, what to do with their time, you name it.
Communication is key when setting up a new working arrangement.
Communicate with your employer: If you are not able to use PTO to get through the next few weeks, collaborate with your leaders at work to set clear expectations of what you can and can’t do while working from home. For instance, having small children at home is very different than having teenagers. Just create a realistic plan of time and objectives and implement frequent check-ins to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Employers can really shine here when it comes to supporting working moms and parents. We LOVE this kind of leadership that EMBRACES kids in the picture — this is definitely the time to do so. If yours is doing something interesting in this regard, let us know here! #kidsarepartoftheteam
Communicate with your kids/partner/spouse. We’re having a morning scrum about what’s happening for everyone that day. Now is a time for everyone to pitch in and be clear and flexible (this is easier said than done!).
4. Set Up a Designated Workspace
“Going to work” is still a thing when working from home. If your family understands that mom is in the “office,” they are less likely to bother you during work hours. This line becomes blurry when working in the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and living room throughout the day. Productivity is key, and having a space protected for your work life will help you achieve maximum results.
If you have school-aged kids and they are doing distance learning, set up designated learning spaces for them as well. Try to align the working hours together, if possible. If you’re sharing devices, make a plan for that.
3/17 update: We wrote the above sentence before the first day of distance learning. It was very difficult to work and be available to help navigate the technology for distance learning and answer questions / manage the schedule. Let’s see.
5. Make a Schedule
It may not seem fair but you are now master of ceremonies in a totally different way. Find your most productive work times (are you are morning person, evening person?) and schedule your work day around when you can generate your best work. For family times, schedule activities to create structure. Even scheduling “unstructured time” for kids is a good idea—boredom breeds creativity after all. Structure will keep expectations clear for everyone, making time feel less fluid and days less never-ending.
Elizabeth Scott, partner at HR consulting firm Nua Group has written excellent advice to help companies prepare for and operate during COVID-19, and shared her home planner with us on how to manage working from home with kids during the crisis. She shows how to have one parent on at all times. Make a copy and then you can edit in with your own details. (You’re welcome!)
Don’t forget to assign jobs for everyone to do around the house.
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6. Use Screen Time Strategically
Screen time will be a very useful tool over the unknown future but it is best used to support you in specific times of need. Do you have regular conference calls or meeting that need to happen? This is the perfect time for a movie or a couple episodes on PBS. Make sure your parental controls are in good shape as well to avoid any inappropriate surprises.
7. Put the Phone Down
It is very tempting right now to constantly be scrolling and watching and listening—the news is very mesmerizing. Leave your phone at your workspace (with the ringer on), when you are not working. That way you are not tempted to engage with it while with your family, but can hear it ringing if a call comes through. Being present with your kids while working from home will make you and your family feel more successful at the end of the day.
8. Don’t forget to PLAY!
There is a lot of power in play. Playing brings out our inner child and releases creativity that is often dormant. Use this time with your children to explore and rediscover favorite stories, books, games.
Check out the eeboo puzzles and teach about women’s history at the same time!
9. Nature Doesn’t Close — and Exercise is Critical
While libraries, recreation centers, gyms and even malls may be closed for indeterminate amounts of time, playing outside is always an option (even in cities and counties on lockdown – so far – as long as you remain six feet apart and follow other social distancing guidelines). Going for a walk, a hike, even unstructured time in the yard can be a helpful change of scene. If you live somewhere cold, remember “there is no bad weather just poor clothing choices.” Watch and listen to the birds as spring begins to bloom and enjoy the slow pace that nature provides.
- OpenFit is offering a free trial. They bring workout coaches to your phone so you can workout wherever.
10. Reach Out to Your Networks
Engage in online mom groups, Face Time with family more often, schedule online meetings with your team to stay connected. This is really technology’s moment to shine, so use its full potential. Staying connected will be a tremendous support to your mental health and sense of camaraderie as social distancing becomes more of a reality.
11. Don’t Panic
Chances are our children will remember how they felt during this pandemic, not the details of what was happening. Keep calm and control what you can and let go of what you can’t (easier said than done, we know!) Try to bring more light than darkness into your home and your kids will do the same.
If you’re doing anything that could be helpful to working from home with kids, email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
3/18 update: We’re part of an amazing cooperative of 27 startups in the “family tech” space. This group has rallied together to support working moms and families during COVID-19. There are a ton of free resources in this list – check it out in Forbes.
Facebook Live Q&A on how to stay focused on professional goals during a time of uncertainty — Tuesday, March 24 at 4 p.m. EST. Our team will be there! Simply navigate to our FB page at that time. The next one will be Zoom 101.
Time to learn? Take one of our on demand, video coaching courses – Return to Work, Career Change, Leveling up Leadership Skills, Discovering What You’re Destined to Do, Build LinkedIn Profile and Job Search Skills.
Time to read? Check out our book: Your Turn: Careers, Kids & Comebacks–A Working Mother’s Guide
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