The way things are going, tens of thousands of people may end up working from home. Perhaps even millions of people. And now that schools have been closed to all but the children of key workers, this means most parents will have to juggle working from home whilst looking after the kids, too. It’s quite a daunting prospect – so here’s our guide to getting the most out of your day.
Many people will already have experience of working from home, but for many others this will be the first time. Here are some ideas to help with harmony in the home…
Be honest with your employer
It’s important that you are honest with your employer and let them know that you’ll also be looking after your children while you are working from home. It’s probable that you will have to be in contact with your workplace via phone. Make sure they know you cannot guarantee that all of your work calls will be interruption-free – and also that your strict working pattern itself may also be slightly disturbed or interrupted by the situation at home. Your employer will likely understand – this is uncharted territory for many many people and businesses, so there are bound to be ‘differences’ to what we currently accept as ‘normal’.
Very importantly, you should also explain to your children that working from home means that you really are trying to do work – even though it may seem to them like it’s a weekend or a period of holiday.
Plan activities which don’t need supervision
Different activities will apply to different age groups. One obvious solution to keeping slightly older children entertained is a great TV show. Something involving and thought-provoking, with a positive ‘vibe’ like Star Trek is a good bet – and there’s a lot of that so that’s a lot of time used up!
So your ‘moody teenager’ may be very happy to play on his Xbox or PlayStation all day, but your baby or seven-year-old child will have rather different needs. Why not create activity boxes for each child, depending on their ages? Games and puzzles which require minimum adult supervision for young children are an ideal way to start.
Older children should be keeping themselves busy with online schooling tasks because even though the school are shut, work will still be supplied by teachers.
Have you thought about virtual babysitters?
This is where you connect with friends, aunts, uncles, teachers, grandparents etc, who you can work with to set up virtual playdates! They can talk, read, play games, dance and much more, all online. If you set up specific times for this to be arranged, then it makes it easier for you do more demanding tasks when your children are occupied and entertained.
Don’t fret about screen time
Most parents usually have some sort of limit on the amount of time their children can spend on a computer or device when they’re at home. During this unusual period it’s probably advisable to take a sabbatical from the normal procedure and be much more flexible. Just make sure you tell your child or children that the relaxed rules are only a temporary measure while you work from home.
Tip: If you need to be using the family laptop yourself, there are some great, inexpensive tablets to keep the children happy. There are also tablet accessories available – such as stands, cases and styluses – to make using the device more convenient and easy.
Good behaviour should be rewarded
Setting up a reward system is not some sort of cop-out. If children are following directions well, allowing you to honour your work commitments, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reassuring them that you’re pleased with them, by rewarding them a little.
Have a think about changing your style of working. Don’t think about getting your head down into a project for several hours at a time. This will undoubtedly end in frustration and, quite possibly tears – from both your children and yourself! Make sure you break up your work day, as children’s attention spans are shorter than those of adults – so do your work in bite size chunks and give children some of the attention that they need.
If there are two adults at home, it’s sensible to take shifts with looking after the children. For instance, one person watches the children in the morning while the other works, and then reverse those roles during the afternoon. This gives both adults the chance to work uninterrupted, and also the chance to remain connected and involved in the childcare.
Ebuyer wishes you good luck during these unusual times. With a bit of organisation and forethought the working from home situation is highly manageable, even when the kids are with you!