I spent so much time preparing for the kids’ e-learning while schools are closed due to COVID-19 (you can read that post here) that I neglected to plan for how I’d get MY work done.
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I am a project manager for a consulting company, and thankfully, I’ve always had the flexibility to work remotely. I’ve spent a lot of time working from home (or Starbucks, or a local café), so I feel like I have a good handle on the WORK part, but I struggled yesterday (our first “school” day at home) with the TIMING.
The kids finished up their learning around 3:30pm, and I spent an hour catching up on household chores (laundry, kitchen, meal planning), and then I brought out my laptop to start work a little before 5pm. I was mentally exhausted, as I’m sure many other parents were. I decided that I needed to make a plan (when I’m stressed, I plan!), so I did. My kids are 6, 8, and 9, so this list reflects their ages/abilities.
HAVE A ROUTINE
I think timed schedules have a time and a place, but right now, I’m more focused on loose routines. It’s the perfect blend of flexibility and consistency. Here is the routine I settled on over here:
- Morning: Coffee and breakfast, light chores
- Mid-Morning – Early Afternoon: School work, lunch
- Late Afternoon – Early Evening: My work
- Evening: Dinner, light chores
WHEN IT’S TIME TO WORK, GET KIDS SET UP AND OCCUPIED
I find that getting schoolwork out of the way before working helps their spirit a bit. In my house, my kids will walk over to me every 4 minutes if they’re hungry, need to go to the bathroom, need a drink (all of which they can handle by themselves, they just like to share). If I plan ahead a little bit and give them activities or jobs to do, they’re less likely to interrupt. Checklists work really well if you have tasks they need to complete. They can also make a list of things to do on their own (challenge them to make a list of 50 or 100!) so that if boredom creeps in, they can look at their list instead of asking you. Last-ditch effort over here is screen time, and I’m not afraid to use it. Movies, educational shows, read-alongs, games, – all ok over here. Sometimes you do what you need to do. Have them get snacks and activities all set up before you start working to lessen interruptions.
I can’t focus if I’m uncomfortable. I need to be sitting somewhere with good support and enough natural light. I highly recommend having water nearby at all times (I love this 30oz tumbler). It’s easy to get into a work groove and forget to stay hydrated, or to grab coffee all day. Keeping water on hand makes a huge difference in my water consumption. I’ve heard a lot of people say “get dressed like you’re going to work.” While I agree that the act of getting dressed might make you feel like your day has started, I’m not a huge fan of traditional business clothes, so I tweak this advice for myself and get dressed in comfy clothes. Here are some of my favorites (all leggings, because #leggingsarepants):
TURN EVERYTHING OFF WHEN YOU’RE DONE
This isn’t specific to being on lockdown at home, but in my experience, it’s VERY easy to blur the home/work lines when you work at home. When you’re finished working for the day, log out of work applications and turn your work devices off.
I know that life doesn’t always go according to plan (especially right now), but creating new routines and a new “normal” can help your family adjust in uncertainty. If you’re working form home with kids home, I’d love to hear your tips, too!