Parents Working from Home?
How to Stay Productive
Schools closed on 20th March and the remainder of the academic year cancelled because of coronavirus. Just days later, the government did what everybody expected would happen – ordered the closure of most workplaces. At once, parents were forced to work from home, in some cases for the first time ever. With their children already at home, this created a problem that required immediate adaptation.
Children need to understand that their parents are working and shouldn’t be disturbed. At the same time, those same children require something to occupy their time. So, how do you keep small children entertained while still getting work done?
Help your Children Understand Why You’re at Home
The best way to keep home harmony when everyone is at home is to talk to your children about why this is happening. Explain that this is new to everybody – you included – but it is important for everyone’s health. Children are just as likely to be as confused and as anxious as parents at the disruption to our normal daily lives. It’s the normality you need to emphasise, including and especially that you are at work despite being at home.
Set Aside a Workspace
Working from home is about getting into the right physical space and mental space. It’s difficult to work from the breakfast bar, especially when children are playing or they’re watching Harry Potter on the television. You need a definite physical workspace, but not everyone has a home office. A spare room will do, or other quiet place away from the main activity of the home. Not only will working be easier and the space quieter, but you can mentally disconnect at the end of the workday – something that you would normally do on your commute but no longer exists.
Have a Plan and Routine
This coronavirus situation could last most of the spring, if not beyond. If you’re not used to working from home, you need a plan and a daily routine for your productivity’s sake. Keep your in-office routine as much as you can, including getting up at the same time, taking breaks at the usual time, and any tasks that continue during this phase. Plan work in 1-2hr blocks if you continue to struggle; these blocks are great for breaking up children’s days too – a block for a film, a block for gaming and a block for group exercise. When a child’s day is broken up (much like schooling) they are less likely to get bored.
Schedule Family Time Breaks
Children will also adapt quickly to this new routine, especially if you make a point to schedule family time throughout the day. One of the biggest problems of working from home isn’t lack of motivation, it’s losing track of time. Walk away from the work during your coffee break and lunch break and spend time with the children. This way, you will ensure you get your break time, not let time run away with you, and the children are less likely to interrupt you while working.