I’ve been working from home with the kids for quite a while now. The biggest learning curve by far has been learning to manage my expectations as well as those of whom I work with/for. If ever there was a time to test your flex appeal, it’s now. When currently no one has access to childcare and toddler melt downs during live video conferencing is the new norm.
I’m actually really lucky that the company I work for is fully onboard with remote working. And that although pre-covid I did have to train into the big smoke once a week, more than 90% of the work I do is done from the comfort of my own home. And here’s where I think the current pandemic has burst all our bubbles; it ain’t always comfy working from home! For one it can be hard to stay motivated and focussed. Then there’s child care, which outside of the current world crisis is a must. I mean these kids don’t raise themselves, no matter how much you silently will them to try!
And before I go any further, let me chuck in a quick disclaimer. When I say “I’ve done this for a while”, it means nothing! Life constantly ups the bar and throws a spanner in the works just as you think you’ve got the engine of your life running smoothly. But, what I have had is time to trial and error the WAHM life. So here’s my ‘do as I say not as I do’ guide to working at home with kids.
The main point of working from home is to have the flexibility you need to try and achieve a decent work life balance. Remember you will no longer need to schedule in the commute to and from work, so schedule your day to suit your family’s needs. For example I’ll often start late on a Monday and finish early on a Friday. With our meals set around 7am, 12pm & 5.30pm. My standard weekly rota tends to looks like this;
Monday: 10-6. Tuesday: 9-5. Wednesday: 9-5. Thursday: 9-5. Friday: 8-4.
It means I have a little leeway when it comes to dealing with the entire family’s weekend hang over. Starting earlier on a Friday means not only do I catch more people at their desks before that Friyay feeling kicks in, but that I in return get to settle into the weekend and enjoy some quality family time. Furthermore this schedule allows me to do 4 school drop offs a week. I also always take an hrs lunch, which if need be can be taken later so that I can do the school pick up too.
Break the day down into bite sized chunks. Have a daily and weekly jobs list on the go so that you can continuously reassess your work flow and tick stuff off. It’s hugely satisfying and helps to keep you focussed and not lose track or sight of what you’d planned on achieving. Make sure to be just as rigid with planning your breaks. Allow yourself either a clear midday break with an hour to eat and refresh or instead pace your day with continuous 10/15 minute breaks. It will help to stop your brain from getting bogged down and keep you energised. Working in small chunks also allows you to set the kids up with small tasks/activities/games to complete while you work.
Always have a never ending supply of snacks for you as well as them!
Defined Work Space
Create a defined work space. Somewhere you can set up freely and comfortably. A space that is yours solely to work at and that ongoing projects can be left. Where possible designate a room as your work space and when you’re done for the day, close the door on it and leave it until the next day. It’ll also reduce the worry of small people getting their mits on your important papers!
When it comes to organising my work, I love using Trello boards. They’re a great way to work collaboratively with colleagues, but remotely. And they allow you to gather, share and organise all different types of content and projects.
Play The Part
Get up and get dressed, like you’re going to the office everyday. Part of the reason I start late on a Monday is so I can have that last PJ lounge in the morning before I put my big girl pants on. Playing the part and making myself feel that I’m ‘going’ to work, helps me get the right mind set. It helps me drop my funk and makes me feel like I’ve achieved something before the days even started. It also feels nice to look nice and that has a hugely positive impact on your mindset.
For me starting the day before I’m ready and in the right frame of mind is worse than just not bothering to go to work at all! Get done what you need to do, to give yourself the right to feel free to work without distraction!
I’ve learned to love working from home, but I’m not going to lie it’s been a huge learning curve. There’s a lot to be said about having a place to go to work and keeping your home as a place to retreat to. However, as a mum being able to work from home has been a huge privilege and has allowed me to lead both my career and family life along the paths I had hoped to travel. And for that I will forever feel blessed.
If you’ve any tips or queries regarding working from home, drop them in the comments box below.
Until then stay safe!