As we all do our best at social distancing and self isolation to slow the spread of COVID-19, a new normal is settling in across the globe. For parents, this new normal includes trying to juggle working and childcare at the same time. As a mother of two who works from home most of the time, I am used to my children periodically being home while I work. However, this is a new era. The schools have closed indefinitely and we all have to do what we can to keep the economy afloat while keeping our family and friends safe.
Here are some tips to help you stay focused while being an attentive parents.
Get up early
This is a tip for those that find themselves confined in their homes with others…especially tiny humans. Productivity as you know it is going to fall, especially if you have children that cannot dress themselves, feed themselves nor entertain themselves for 8 hours. You will have more distractions and interruptions than ever before. One way to combat this is to start your day earlier. If possible get your most important work started and hopefully finished before others have even risen from their beds. I am currently getting up at 6am. My children wake at 7am and can wander downstairs to turn the telly on themselves but not much else. I get them drinks and some oatmeal and I can continue working until 9am.
Focus on output not input
Try your hardest to not work too late after the children have gone to bed to make-up for the time you had to spend parenting. Make a list of three things you want to accomplish each day then do your damnest to get those done. I know three doesn’t sound like many but it’s a good place to start and work up from.
If you have a partner and other adults in the house, make sure that you communicate and make changes to your routine daily to cover each other during conference calls or if you need some laser focused alone time with your work.
Children are used to routine and quite frankly, they thrive on it. WFH with kids can quickly descend into lawlessness if you don’t establish a routine. Below is a picture of what we came up with pretty quickly. There are tons of routines on Pinterest for ideas as well.
The key for us is finding lessons in everyday life. For example, our children (we have two daughters – 7 and 3 years old respectively) have been playing a lot in their toy kitchen as shopkeepers. So during the math hour we let them play but we go over every now and then as customers and ask them to count out groceries for us or ask them to make change for our fake purchases.
I’ve also established a routine for myself that involves getting up earlier to get the most urgent and important items done first before the minions awake. I schedule all of my tasks for the day in my calendar and then use that as my to do list.
Gamify your day
Tasks have a way of filling the time you allow for them. If you give yourself 2 hours to work on something, it seems to take at least 2 hours. So be realistic with how much time you allot for each task and set timers. Do your damnedest to complete the task in that time or faster. Make it a game. I set up a few awards to work towards including:
- Eat the Frog award
- Most productive award
- Clear your inbox award
- Best communicator award
- Deadline Darling award
I decide which one I’m working towards that day and go for it. We also set awards for the kids to work towards.
- Independent Play award
- Helper Challenge award
- Reading Challenge award
- Fit and Fun award
If you want more details on how we run each award, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to elaborate. They get stickers for their achievements that go on their sticker charts. They have a prize they are working towards that is written at the top. We don’t tell them how many they need to get to the prize, they don’t seem to mind either. I have tried every reward chart there is and we come back over and over again to the sticker chart. At times it’s even just been a white piece of printer paper with their names written at the top. They genuinely don’t care. It’s the anticipation of getting a sticker that matters most to them.
I made these charts in Canva. If you have kids and you don’t have Canva…you are missing a trick.
Good is good enough
The thing about working from home with children is that your productivity will go down because you can’t be all things at all times. So be kind to yourself, your children and all of those in your household. Your safety is what is most important and we are all in this together. Sometimes you should just establish that it’s a movie day if that’s what you need to get work done. Good is good enough.
Here are a few resources I like to use for my kids.
Peekaboo Pack is hours of toddler fun with our favorite Peekaboo apps. These are fun games are engaging and beautiful. My 7 year old still loves these apps and she’s been playing them since she was just under a year old.
Little Critter Books
Read dozens of Little Critter stories by Mercer Mayer!Parents can see their child’s reading skills improve with statistics for number of stories read, hours read, pages flipped, and words tapped. This books are so endearing, they will become fast favs.
Paint Sparkles Draw
We’ve spent the extra money for the upgrade for this app and haven’t regretted it one bit. This is a great art app that allows your kids to either free paint or fill in coloring pages.
I love this app! Our daughter has been learning Dutch! She knows her vrouws from her meisjes after we downloaded this app during a trip to The Nethererlands. Highly recommend this gamified language app.
This post was written by The Officials founder, Lauren Bradley. For even more tips and tricks on how to successfully work from home (with or without children present) The Remote Assistant Success course will be available in The Officials HQ training platform in March 2020. We are so excited because this course is a collaboration between The Officials x The Assistants List.
Sign-up here to be one of the first to be notified when the course drops.
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