Click Rain strives to uphold a culture of balance. We've long encouraged staff to build their careers without sacrificing faith or family values. Balance has not been easy in 2020, though. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted just about every dimension of life, and many of our team members have found themselves bearing new responsibilities and wearing multiple hats. In particular, our parents have faced a unique set of challenges: working from home with kids.
It goes something like this.
You're in the middle of a client presentation and a voice from another room cries: "I’m still hungry! Can I have a snack?!" Your living room rotates from office to classroom to play room on the daily. You know the drill.
What's the secret to upholding your professional and parental responsibilities under the same roof? There is no secret. (Or if there is, whoever's keeping it needs to get talking.) Instead, we asked a handful of parents in the office how they've adjusted to working from home with kids around. Here are the key takeaways.
5 Tips for Working From Home With Kids
1. Take Care of Yourself
"Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others." You've probably heard flight attendants offer this airplane safety tip. The logic is easy to understand: If you don't secure your mask first, you'll run out of oxygen before you can even help others. And that would be bad. The same principle applies to working from home with kids. Take care of yourself first. If you run out of "oxygen" (energy, time, patience) because you neglected yourself, tending to your kids' needs while working will become a serious burden. Of course, this principle always holds, but especially while working from home with kids.
- Wake up before the kids to prepare for the day.
- "Make sure you (and the kids!) get a good night's rest. This will help ensure a less chaotic start to the day."
- Eat wholesome, nutritious meals
- Carve out time for exercise or recreation.
2. Find a Routine
Successfully working from home demands extra discipline, lest you find yourself drifting to the kitchen fridge every thirty minutes unawares. Sticking to a daily routine can help keep you and your kids on track. Routines also establish a sense of normalcy during unusual times.
Hopefully you're already sticking to those self-care habits mentioned above, so you can focus on your kids here. Remember, this is new for them too. Start by building a routine for your kids so they know basically what's happening each day. Here are a few other routine tips from our parents.
- "For after school: create a visual schedule. Have dedicated space for play. Set a time where you will allow TV/electronics and make sure the kids clean up before they start."
- Each morning, tell them what's happening that day. Note when you'll be available or when you need alone time for work.
"We would take the dog for a walk during lunch every day. We began to look forward to the time outside and the time together every day. It also helped create a routine they could count on."
3. Name Spaces
Speaking of routines, it's crucial to establish where you will—and will not—work when at home. Whether it's your office or kitchen table, stick to working from the same space or two each day. This eliminates the stress of having to decide every morning, but it also helps your kids. It can be stressful for kids to know that a parent is home, but unavailable, especially for extended periods of time. As part of your routine, tell your kids when and where you will be working in the house.
You may also need to name new spaces for your kids during this season—designated classrooms, playrooms, or homework rooms. This provides more normalcy and promotes productivity.
"I used to schedule a game time with my kids for the afternoon (on my work calendar) and tell them first thing in the morning that I could play with them at that time and then we all looked forward to it all day. One of the hardest things is having a parent home and not being able to interact with them at will."
- Explain to your kids when and why they cannot interrupt your work hours.
- Consider allowing your kids to explore your office or even take part in your work when appropriate. This may help them understand why they need to leave you alone during focus time.
4. Give Your Kids Plenty to Do (Also Snacks)
When creating a schedule for your kids, be sure to give them enough to occupy the whole day. This could mean specific times for homework, play, or cleaning around the house. One of our parents suggested giving your kids a daily challenge, like building something or accomplishing a cleaning goal to spark engagement or competition between siblings.
Now about those snacks. Here's another great idea, employed by multiple parents in our office: "My toddler is constantly asking for snacks, no matter what time of day. We ended up putting several different types of snacks and drinks (all he could open himself) in a cupboard within reach where he could go grab what he chooses whenever he wants."
- With extra hands, get some extra things done around the house!
- iPads can be a life-saver when it comes to keeping kids entertained. Don't feel bad for relaxing your usual screen time rules during a pandemic.
- Rotate what toys or games your kids can use each day of the week.
5. Give Yourself Some Grace
We've all heard the phrase "unprecedented times" thrown around lately. That's really just a way of saying we've never done this before. So the final tip for working from home with kids is to give yourself some grace. When every day brings "uncharted territory" you're going to have to settle for a little trial and error. Don't be so hard on yourself when you don't nail it on the first try (or second or third). Some days you just need to survive. (Hence the snacks.) Take it slow.
"Give yourself some grace. Working from home with kids is hard and no one has all the answers for how to do it 'right'."
So, to recap.
- Take care of yourself.
- Find a routine.
- Name spaces.
- Give your kids plenty to do.
- Give yourself some grace.
If you're working from home, your employer has already blessed you with extra flexibility. It's important to remember that working from home is still work, even when it feels more like a circus. So do your best to do your job well, even as you simultaneously juggle parenting responsibilities. (Aaaand, see point 5 above.) Over-communicate with your managers, your kids, your spouse, and even yourself. And why not try to have a little fun while you're at it? After all, this is only temporary.