Do you work at home with your children? This contributed post has some excellent strategies for getting the job done.
Working from home is something that appeals to a lot of parents. After all, it means that they do not need to pay for childcare, and they can be more present in their child’s life. However, there is no denying that working from home can be very difficult when you have children to look after too. So, how can you survive and make your days a lot easier and more productive? Let’s take a look at some top tips…
Plan for interruptions – There is only one place to begin, and this is with planning for interruptions. You cannot guarantee that your day is going to run smoothly when your children are involved. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that there are going to be some disturbances. It is important to plan for this. There is nothing worse than a child crying in the middle of a conference call, or you not being able to deliver work on time because you have had to calm down your child. You need to plan for this. For instance, you need to give yourself more time to finish projects to account for interruptions, and you need to make sure you have the mute button readily available whenever you take a conference call. Or, better still; try to schedule calls so that your child is occupied at the time.
Capitalize on naptime – This is one part of the day whereby you can expect to enjoy a good chunk of time without any interruptions. You need to capitalize on this. Whether your child naps for one hour or three, use this time to take any important phone calls, as well as finishing assignments. You need to use this time wisely. Determine what tasks require your utmost focus, and do these.
Structure your day – Structuring your day is not only important for you, but it is vital for your children too. Of course, you need to have flexibility within your day, as nothing can be completely scheduled when children are involved. Nevertheless, if you do not structure your day, you will find that you don’t achieve the productivity levels you need to.
Take small breaks from work throughout the day – It is better to take numerous small breaks, rather than taking one large break. This will ensure that you see your children frequently so that they do not keep interrupting you because they miss you.
Rotate toys to keep them interesting – You will need to keep your child entertained throughout the day. This means that you are going to need to rotate toys so that they don’t grow bored of things. Of course, this may mean that they end up being a little bit more spoilt than usual. However, if they don’t have you to keep them entertained, they are going to need something else. You can find plenty of great toys at second-hand stores and such like – you don’t need to spend a fortune. This is especially the case if your children are very young. After all, they don’t tend to care what they are playing with. We have all been there: when they find the packaging more interesting than the toy that is actually inside of it.
Create a chill zone in your office for your child – It is likely that your child is going to want to spend some time with you throughout the day. You’ve probably experienced it: the numerous tugs on your leg or the shouting of: “Mum, can you play with me?” “Mum, will you come downstairs?” One way to combat this is to set up a chill zone in your office for your child. This will ensure that they can be nearby you without actually distracting you from your work or making you leave the office. Set up a comfy beanbag and an entertainment option – such as a portable DVD player, with child-friendly headphones of course! You can view our catalog for some comfy seating options, and if you look online you will find plenty of different entertainment solutions that won’t be a distraction to you.
Hire a part-time babysitter – If you are really struggling to get your work completed on time, it is worth considering hiring a part-time babysitter. Yes, this does mean that you are going to be spending a bit of money on childcare. However, it is nowhere near the amount you would have to spend if you needed to go into the office every day from 9 am until 5 pm. By hiring a part-time babysitter, it means that you get a number of dedicated hours per week to completely focus on your work. You know that your children are being taken care of and that they have everything they need, so you can immerse yourself in the tasks that need to be completed, rather than being interrupted or worrying about your kids.
Enjoy the little moments – It is easy to let stress take over when you are working from home and trying to look after your children at the same time. However, it is important to cherish the little moments that working from home gives you. Whether it’s your child giggling as you play with them during one of your breaks or being able to cuddle them when they wake up from their nap, these are the moments you would be missing out on if you had to put your children in care while you work from an office.
Become an early riser – The thought of getting up at five o’clock in the morning may not be very appealing, but you will soon learn to love it. This is a great way to maximise your workday. Children don’t tend to be aware during the early hours of the morning, which means this is the perfect opportunity to tick a few items off your to-do list and get organized before all of the mayhem begins. Although you may not be in the mood to work at 5 am, you will be able to get yourself in order for the day ahead, and once you have had a coffee you may find that this becomes the most productive time of the day. Not only this, but it will put you a great mood for the day ahead. You will already be ahead of the game, which eases the pressure for the rest of the day. It will transform the way you work.
Ask your family and friends to help you – Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends to help you out. It is likely that your parents would love nothing more than an opportunity to spend some time with their grandchildren. Moreover, if you have a friend that works part-time and has children, ask them I they would look after your kid one day per week. It’s likely that they will be more than happy to help you out. Plus, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, so it is definitely worth a try.
Offer incentives – This does not mean that you should bribe your children, but by setting goals for them, you will keep them occupied. This could mean that you promise your children pizza at their favorite restaurant or 30 minutes in the park if they reach the target you have set them. Not only does this help you to have a smoother day at work, but also it means that you get to spend some quality time together as a family as a consequence, so it’s a win-win approach. Plus, your children learn the importance of having to work hard for the things they want.
Be realistic – It is important to be realistic with yourself and others when you are working from home. You need to recognize the pitfalls of this working environment, and you need to know how this is going to impact your productivity and your ability to deliver tasks and projects on time, and hold meetings and answer phone calls. This is not said to put you off from the idea; merely to make sure you factor everything in when putting together your schedule or liaising with the people you work for.
Set up emergency drills – Last but not least, make sure you have emergency drills in place for the embarrassing encounters that can often happen when children and work combine. Practise these if your children. For example, your children should know the answer to this question: if I leave the door unlocked, and you enter the room and see me on the phone, what do you do?
Hopefully, you now have some top tips, which you can apply to your daily working life. While working from home with children can be a challenge, it is not an impossible one. Use the advice that has been mentioned above, and you should begin to notice improvements immediately.