Work from home has its challenges and may get worse if you need to look after your kids during the time you are working. Helping you to deal with this situation, see below seven tips that offer practical ideas, solutions and guidance on how to work from home with kids and be productive.
#1 – Set up a permanent area for your home office
Whether you have children or not, this tip is the foundation for anyone who wants to succeed in the remote work new reality. However, for parents, setting up a proper home office is essential to determine boundaries for their children.
These boundaries allow you to establish rules regarding when and why your kids should interrupt you. You can explain that during a specific time you are working in your office and exemplify situations why they should call you. These situations vary from child to child, age and independence level. You are the best person to know why your children should call for you, but make sure it is not because the Baby Shark episode has finished.
First of all, you must find a permanent area to work, which creates the perception that you have an office that needs to be respected, The perfect spot would be in a separate room with a door. But, if this is not possible, try to delimitate a space to install your computer and other necessary tools.
Therefore, working in different spots of the house is not a good idea. Even worse if the places are related to leisure or resting, such as sofas and beds. Not just because you will easily deviate your attention, but your children may not understand you are working and will keep interrupting you.
Create a sense of respect or "sanctuary awareness" in your kids makes it easier for you to establish rules and put them in motion.
Learn more about how to set up a Home Office watching the video below:
#2 – Be prepared to work in a hostile environment
You may have a series of activities, objectives and goals to reach in your job. When working from home, it is essential to organize how you are going to do that in a hostile environment. Yes, you read it correctly; your home is a hostile environment regarding work as far as your office is the place you are used to. And no, your children are not the enemy, at least, they should not be.
Before planning how you are going to organize your activities, it is necessary to recognize you are in a hostile work environment. Treating your own home as an unknown terrain gives you the capacity to identify threatens and opportunities that are going to help you build and implement a plan.
Your home has lots of threatens that can undermine your productivity. You may be worried about your children interrupting you, but this might be one of your smallest threaten.
Look around, so many temptations, TV, Netflix, kitchen full of snacks, sofa, bed, backyard, swimming pool, park nearby and, the biggest one, your at-home behaviour. See, all this together summed to your children's needs, may lead you to a vacation mode and ruin your productivity.
Of course, you know the presence of these temptations. However, it does not mean your mind is set to treat them as threats. Therefore, you need to establish rules, time-slots and routines that help you to not enter into vacation mode and keep the work mode on.
Also, figure ways to turn those temptations into motivations. For example, TV time during your break may be a reward for you and your kids if you and them reach a specific goal. This gives you a feeling of recognition and also creates a quality time-slot with your beloved ones.
#3 – Establish a routine for the whole family
Do you remember that time when you went to work in your office, had to wake up, get ready, get kids ready, take them to school, commute, and so on? Good times…
Yes, the world has changed. Those simple things are not allowed anymore. The series of actions and responsibilities that shaped your schedule and guided you into a normal day have gone.
The new normal has been born. It may not have the same activities and simple things from before, but the routine is still the key to organize your day. The difference is the kind of activities, the new demands imposed by the pandemic, and how you shape them into your new normal day.
You and your family do not have the same events you had before, which does not mean you do not have a routine. You do have a new routine that relies more on your own decisions.
In the old normal your activities and time slots were determined by the school, work and social life. Now, you need to create and organize some activities to fill some gaps created by the restrictions imposed by the social distance.
Start looking for your family current day/week and answer some of the following questions:
- What are the main activities that need to be done?
- What time do these activities usually happen?
Then categorize the activities into personal or professional to visualize the work-life balance. Now you can create a daily schedule for a whole week.
This is your road map. A guide that helps you to oversee your new routine, but more than that, you can now see the gaps created by the pandemic and introduce new activities as follow:
- If you notice a time-slot that fits something with the whole family, why not a group workout, such as walking through the neighbourhood. Or multi-hands cooking when you pick a recipe and the family work as a kitchen crew.
- In case your kids are empty hands during some time-slots, inspire them to do some house chores, reading, crafting or any other activity rather than TV, YouTube or Video Games.
The gaps in your schedule are likely the reason you are struggling with your new routine. Fill them up, just simple like that. You will probably make mistakes that can be fixed with no harm. This will gradually improve your routine, your kids will be busy during times you need to focus on your job, and you all will learn new things, improve skills and better adapt to the new normal.
The concept is simple, the implementation is a challenge, but you can do it.
#4 – Identify the best time to work
If your job has a flexible schedule, you should evaluate the best time-slots to focus on your tasks. This may sound obvious, but since you did not have to think about it before, you always used this flexibility when things went off, such as an unpredictable call from your kids’ principal to have a little in-person chat (never happened? Luck you!).
Now things went completely off. You should take advantage of this flexibility to organize your schedule and leverage your productivity.
If you did the Routine exercise mentioned in tip number 3, you have an overview of your family time-slots. This helps you to identify the best time to work regarding your kids’ activities. The time-slots when they are busy (or sleeping) might fit your most important job tasks, even if it is out of your regular office hours.
This reorganization may take some time to be processed by your internal clock. At first, you may feel uncomfortable and counterproductive, which is normal, just keep doing, and the benefits will show up soon.
Important Note: this rescheduling may change your sleep time. You might need to wake up earlier or sleep later. This affects your concentration and mood. Have this in mind and cope with the side effects, but also try to mitigate them through exercising your body and your soul by doing some workout, meditation, yoga, or other activities that make you feel good and healthy.
Finally, the whole idea here is focused on productivity. After the adaptation phase, your productivity level is supposed to be higher than when you start to work from home. If not, you need to evaluate why the supposed-to-be best time to work is not fitting your needs. It is a learning curve; understand this is essential to keep going and improving your results.
#5 – Create a mindset of teamwork among friends and family
Teamwork is a daily base office jargon. Companies spend lots of money to train their employees on how to work as a team. These organizations invest in technologies to make team collaboration easier and accessible, such as the ones VBS offers for Remote Work.
All this has a purpose, to create a culture of teamwork to increase productivity.
You should have the same mindset when organizing your work from home environment. No, you do not have to spend lots of money training your spouse and kids or acquiring team collaboration technologies. The idea here is to evolve your spouse/partner, parents, in-laws, neighbours and friends into your new reality. Moreover, it is the convocation of team members who can help you manage your family’s schedule.
You probably had some help with your kids’ schedule before. Someone who took after them during an unpredictable meeting, or a neighbour who took them to school, or maybe, you never needed it. But now, things have changed due to social distance rules, school closures and so on. You may not have the same help anymore or, even if someone offers to give you a hand, it is not possible due to the restrictions imposed by isolation and quarantine rules. So, what can you do to get some help? The answer: teamwork and technology.
Technology comes on hand during current times. It facilitates anyone to communicate with the outside world. You can video chat with friends and family, order groceries from your couch, and even host social events online. Technology is also a way to get help with your kids. Here are some ideas for you:
- Schedule video calls with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other relatives during the time-slots you and your spouse/partner cannot look after the kids. They are familiar faces that can entertain your kids and also enjoy the whole process. Moreover, you keep the family together, even if it is a virtual gathering.
- Talk with the parents of your kids’ friends. Organize a schedule with online engaging activities for the kids. Considering the fact you all may have different availability, you can take charge of one or two online meetings, as well as the other parents. In the end, your kids and friends can see each other daily, under the supervision of an adult, and during time-slots when you and the other parents are busy.
- For those who live with a partner, more than never, it is time to work as a team. As suggested before, organize your spaces to work, look into your schedules together, create a routine for the whole family, find the best time to work and help each other. It is not just about to be available for your kids, but keep the routine and schedule on track, help the kids with their activities and make sure they understand and follow the rules. It is not different than regular parenting, but it is in a different world.
#6 – Technology is your ally to be productive
Your productivity is not just impacted by your children when working from home. The challenges are real, and you know them well. Communication, collaboration, teamwork, integration and many other activities are impacted and have gained a new concept. To adapt and adjust to this new normal you have a powerful ally: technology.
See below a list of different applications available to help you be more productive in the remote working environment. If you want to receive more details, click here and send a message to VBS IT Service that is more than happy to help you find the best technology for you or your company.
- Zoho CRM: Improve your communication, collaboration, and sales even when working remotely with efficiency-boosting apps such as:
- Cliq – a user-friendly communication platform that allows chat, voice and video calls, calendar schedules, custom-built bots, and more, all while keeping your business data secure
- Meeting – a feature-rich web conferencing tool that lets you easily record your meetings and keep them on the cloud to share with your remote employees while also ensuring data security with effective encryption and granular access control
- RingCentral: Make and receive crystal-clear audio calls on any device, enjoy custom channels and chat rooms, share files, and easily assign tasks, and make decisions more efficiently with HD web conferencing and seamless screen sharing capability.
- Google Workspace: A suite of Google productivity tools you know and love, such as Gmail, Google Meet, Drive, Sheets, Docs, Slides, Calendar and Forms.
- Microsoft 365: Get all the remote work and collaboration tools, including Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, business email, and premium Office applications that work on all your devices.
#7 - Have Fun!
You can create the best home office spot, organize the perfect schedule for your whole family, get online help from friends and family, and use the most-effective applications to be productive. However, the most important tip is: have fun.
Things are already harsh. The best you can do now is find ways to have fun with your kids while you are working from home.
Look for activities and things that make you smile. Enjoy your home. Stay mentally present when with your children. Take the best of each moment. If you can do that, you definitely will succeed and be productive.