It seems it’s time to embrace working from home with kids. With coronavirus rising, scores of businesses are sending employees to work from home to “flatten the curve” of infection through social distancing.
But like we discussed in our blog post 7 tips for working from home during the Coronavirus, it’s not as easy as you might think.
And if you are working from home with kids, it can feel like mission impossible as you try to balance spreadsheets with cleaning sheets.
Never fear though.
At Red Platypus we’ve been working at home with a toddler for the past three years and we’ve found a few ways to survive the clash of parenting and working.
Manage everyone’s expectations
Before your first day of working from home with kids, it’s absolutely vital you discuss what your boss or clients expect from you and what you will be able to deliver.
These are extraordinary times that require flexibility and patience. It would be unreasonable to expect you to instantly carry on with work at the same level of output compared to working in the office – or to working from home while the kids were in daycare.
There will be an adjustment period as you figure out lines of communication and how you’ll tackle the work.
If you have children in the house and need to take care of them as well, that needs to be factored in so everyone understands the pressure you will be under.
Make sure you have the talk before you have the problem.
Focus on outcomes
At the office it’s important to look busy, to attend that planning meeting, to deliver your work through a process.
If you’re working from home with kids, all that matters for you workwise is the outcomes you deliver. The mess and struggle to get the work done in time, on budget and to the brief, happens behind the scenes no one needs to know how you got to the end point of delivery.
This loops back to managing everyone’s expectations – you must be judged on the product you deliver, and nothing else.
Throw your schedule out
When you’re working at home with kids, the usual run of working 9 to 5 has to be chucked out. Because as all parents know, it will be, no matter what.
Sure, you have work to do. But kids will throw a spanner into the works, so plan accordingly.
If that means getting up very early to put a few hours in before the madness begins, so be it. Or perhaps your most productive times will be late at night when the toddlers are asleep or when the baby is sleeping in the afternoon.
Just as you should be judged on outcomes alone, you should also focus on doing whatever it takes to deliver the work as agreed. This is where the communication from the first tip really pays off.
Tag team, back again
If you’re lucky enough to have a partner also working from home, they need to do their bit as well.
Equality starts at home after all.
Carmen and I often split the day between us, with one of us taking a few hours or so in the morning to work, with the other painting and building lego and going to the park while cleaning up spills and tears.
Then we have lunch all together and swap.
The big advantage to this – aside from being blissfully childfree – is that you can try to compress the work into the time you have.
It may surprise you to find your working day need not be eight hours – just the four you squeezed in.
Break your own rules
I wrote this blog on the couch in the lounge room while my daughter watched Spirited Away, a beautiful anime film from Studio Ghibli.
Like many modern parents, our rules on screens are usually very strict.
But let’s face it, the TV is a great babysitter, especially when one of our sets of grandparents is self-isolating and social distancing is disrupting our usual networks of support.
So to get stuff done I flicked on the box, plonked her in front and got on with it.
These are extraordinary times. If my daughter has to watch the telly for a bit while I do some work, so be it. There are much worse things in the world. Remember to go easy on yourself and cut yourself some slack during this time. It’ll make life easier for all.
Kids sending you crazy? Here are some good resources to keep them entertained
Thanks to the internet, we’ve managed to find a great list of some free learning websites and Facebook groups to keep the kids entertained. The websites are mainly for older kids who can use the computer easily for interactive games. The Facebook groups are great for ideas for tactile activities you can create at home.
Make new animals, play animal games, build a biome, learn about animals, and hear animal music.
Educational facts about animals, science, history and geography, along with fun competitions, games and more.
Into the Book is a reading comprehension resource.
Playing games in the home of all things Dr. Seuss.
Educational games for grades PreK through 6 that will keep kids engaged and having fun.
A site for online educational games for kids of all ages.
Educational games and videos from Curious George, Wild Kratts and other PBS KIDS shows.
Specialising in reading, phonics and maths – educational games, movies, books, songs, and more for children K-3.
Children’s books read by well-known actors via online videos.
A website full of jokes, surveys, answers to science questions, and fun crafts and recipes.
Inspiration for engaging play areas in your home.
A lot of videos and resources for craft activities.
Activity ideas for babies and toddlers.
Support community for parents, caretakers and teachers who want to find easy and fun activities to do with their kids.
Messy Little Monster
Full of fun art, craft and activity ideas for kids.
Inspiring parents to make learning fun through hands-on activities.
Providing activities for children to help them in learning.
Simple and easy crafts, activities, printables and learning ideas for baby, toddler and pre-k kids.