If you’re used to slogging through Atlanta traffic to get to and from work, working at home may have always seemed like a great gig. After all, what’s not to love about working from your couch or kitchen table, staying in your comfy clothes and skipping a long commute?
With many workers telecommuting because of the coronavirus, the dream of working from home has turned into an unexpected reality. But since kids are home from school and are likely getting cabin fever, you might be suddenly yearning for your more predictable office routine.
The following tips will help you navigate your work-at-home world, even if it’s only temporary:
Set a schedule.
You and your kids should all be used to being on a schedule, so don’t let it slip by the wayside when you’re all at home. Try to keep a schedule that’s close to your regular one, cnbc.com advises. That means if your kids are in school, they can be completing their online assignments while you hunker down to work. Younger kids should also follow their regular schedules as much as possible, and it can help to give them extra attention before starting the day.
Work in blocks of time.
Build blocks of time into your schedule where you can give your kids your full attention, themuse.com suggests. That way, they’re more likely to be patient during the times when you have to settle down to work. This also works if you can be flexible with your schedule and work when the kids are napping or have gone to bed. Just make sure to not stay up late every night trying to finish your work and wake up exhausted the next morning.
Tag team with your partner.
If you have a partner to help, parents.com suggests relying on each other for support. Whether your partner works at home or is still going out to work, help each other navigate your busiest times. So if you have an important call to take, your partner can try to take a break to keep the kids occupied, and vice versa. You can also help each other take a needed break to relax.
Talk with your co-workers.
Let your co-workers know that you may have some unavoidable noises in the background if you have a conference call, themuse.com says. Acknowledging this up front with a comment about schools and daycares being closed, so your kids may be seen or heard unexpectedly. This way, people won’t be as thrown off if there’s a distraction, and you’ll probably hear a lot of “Oh, me too!” comments.
Encourage child-led activities.
Care.com recommends using creative toys that don’t require you to help your kids or constantly supervise them. These are open-ended toys that let your kids be creative and use their imaginations, such as LEGOs, wooden blocks or other low-tech toys. If your kids aren’t used to playing by themselves, it may take them a little while for them to adjust to the solo time, but soon they’ll be lost in their own imaginative worlds.
Set boundaries for your kids.
It’s important to set boundaries when you’re working at home, says cnbc.com, so you can get work done when you absolutely need to. The site suggests enlisting your kids to make a stop sign or thumbs up or down signs, or another system that can let them know when you shouldn’t be disturbed unless there’s a “big, crazy thing” going on.
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