Working remotely with children at home can, shall we say, be challenging! As someone who has worked from home for many years, and has a team of Virtual Assistants who also work remotely, I understand many of the challenges that can arise when children at home are added into the mix.
Many of us parents who were working from home prior to the pandemic, are used to our children spending seven hours a day at school. It seems like we all woke up one morning facing the unexpected prospect of spinning more than just our own plates throughout the working day.
Yes these are difficult times, yet we can find some rewards in unexpected ways. That’s why 100Ninjas has put together some ideas on how best to structure your day to get the best from your brand new, 2020-edition of ‘family-work time.’
Dress for School
A great first step in helping your kids maintain a sense of normalcy is having them get dressed for school. Of course, they can be more casual in their dress and even wear sweats all day. Getting out of their pajamas and going through the motions of getting ready for school will help them prepare for the day.
Structure Your Day
Plan ahead for when you will need uninterrupted work time. What times of day will your children need you the most and when can they play or do school work independently? If you have young children, schedule time for more focused work or important meetings during nap-time. Early mornings and in the evenings after kids are asleep can be the perfect quiet time to get a lot done. Balance your children’s needs with what works best for you. You may be too tired to research and write a report at night, but it may be the perfect time to go through emails.
Structure Their Day
Plan ahead for when you will need uninterrupted work time. What times of day will your children need you the most and when can they play or do school work independently? If you have young children, schedule time for more focused work or important meetings during naptime. Early mornings and in the evenings after kids are asleep can be the perfect quiet time to get a lot done. Balance your children’s needs with what works best for you. You may be too tired to research and write a report at night, but it may be the perfect time to go through emails.
Structure Their Day
Although you can have flexibility within a daily routine when you are working remotely with children, it’s important that they get used to a schedule. A regular routine helps them understand what to expect every day. By giving your children assigned times for school work, reading, physical activity, meals and free time, you can plan your own day accordingly. Our Virtual Assistant Roxy suggests:
“Have them complete the more complicated school work before lunch each day and then save the creative projects for the afternoon.”
If your child is old enough, let them help in creating their schedule. That way you can ensure you both get the most out of your days together. These times can be extra challenging for your kids too. Acknowledge their accomplishments with extra free time or some together time, like a cookie baking session. And make sure to put your child’s schedule somewhere everyone in the household can see it.
Set Guidelines and Manage Expectations
Talk to your kids about what working from home means. Explain to them that there will be times when you are available for a quick question and other times when, in order to get work done, you can’t be interrupted. Let them know that when the door is closed, it means they can’t knock and they can’t come inside. You could even ask your children to create a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for when you have an important call or deadline to meet. Make sure your kids know that you will come and check in on them when you can. Our Virtual Assistant Courtney suggests:
“I make a point of taking several short breaks throughout the day to check in with them, which seems to cut down on how often they come to me with their ‘needs’.”
It is a difficult time for everybody right now, all the more so with many people working remotely with children. Don’t be afraid to let the people you are interacting with professionally know the circumstances that you are dealing with at home. Tell your colleagues if you need a little more time than usual to complete an assignment. If you have a phone meeting and your baby is awake, or your children are in the room next door, tell everyone what’s going down before something interrupts the meeting. Be upfront about what you need. Because we’re all in very similar situations, people are very understanding right now. And don’t be afraid to tell everyone in the house that you need a break for an hour for a bit of ‘me time.’ You won’t regret it.
Maybe more than ever, now is the time to be intentional about the balance of work, family and friends. Take advantage of the time you are at home and take breaks to enjoy special moments with your kids. Designate times when your family is all offline. The phones are put away, and you’re all playing a game or making a meal together. Don’t forget to take care of you! Reach out to friends for a virtual lunch date and coffee break. Or schedule a weekly time with a bunch of friends to meet via video chat. Just some time to talk and share what’s going on.
Busy and Engaged
Children have very active minds and extremely low thresholds for boredom. Be sure to make activities easily accessible for all. Store materials in bins, separating them into books, crafts, games, etc. If you have the room, designate different areas of the house for specific activities. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids to play while you are busy. Or video yourself reading some books so your kids can watch when you can’t be there to read with them. Organize remote ‘play dates’ with other children via video chat, or let them play games online and connect with friends remotely.
During challenging times like these, the internet can be a useful ally. Your children can take a virtual online tour of a city, museum or zoo. They can find a documentary to watch or music to listen to. Plus, they would probably be more than happy to get some free time online. For those moments you absolutely need some leave-me-alone time. When your kids need some inspiration, create a “When I’m Bored” list together. Write a song, play an instrument, make slime, create an iMovie or make a collage. These are just some ideas to get you started.
Make sure to set up times for your kids to video chat or call friends and family; especially those who are alone. Those moments of connecting can make a big difference in someone’s day. Try and keep everyone busy, engaged and active whenever you can. Now’s the time to reach out and say hi.
This is a time of change and adjustment for all of us. Just remember that working from home right now is keeping millions of people safe. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re all in this together. Let’s keep our distance, stay positive and enjoy the special moments when they appear.
You never know, you may actually find this time working remotely with children rewarding in the most unexpected of ways.
Founder at 100Ninjas.
Bananagram Master. Smoothie Mixologist. Seeker of the cozy. Art lover.