Navigating the New Normal #5

Working at home *With Kids* edition

Navigating the New Normal is a Paradise Writing Blog Series covering life and work tips, tricks, and articles of interest during COVID19. We're all in this together.

The school year has started for most families, but it doesn't look anything like what we're used to. If you are working remotely and adding full-time childcare to the mix, these tips are for you and this new normal. - PW

By: Lauren R.

Working at home presents challenges. You’re surrounded by your everyday things and chores, not to mention you are setting your own schedule. You are responsible for your time management, discipline, and productivity.

Now add children into the mix.

As I am writing this, my two toddlers are fighting over a chair, and my elementary-aged child has asked me for about twenty snacks in the past hour. Every time I sit down to work, either a fight breaks out or someone needs me for something.

“So,” you’re probably wondering, “how do you get anything done?”

The first thing that I learned when I started working from home with young children is that you have to cut yourself some slack. Then cut yourself some more slack. Understand that you won’t be able to work a solid eight hours as you would outside of your home. You will work around your children.

If you’re lucky enough to have children that still take naps, naptime is a prime time to get some work done. If not, you have to get more creative and more disciplined.

First, make a list of your tasks and prioritize them. List the most important things or the ones with the nearest deadlines first. Once your list is complete, figure out when you are going to work. Are you going to get up before they do? Are you going to try to work while they are tearing around the house or after they go to bed? Figure out what works for you.

I can’t stress this enough: LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS!

Your kids will wake up early, have bad days, or just not sleep. Understand that this is going to happen and mentally prepare for it. If you have a partner or spouse, make a plan with them. They can tackle the bedtime routine so you can get some work done, or they can take over the morning chaos.

My schedule usually looks like this:

7:00am–9:30am: Wake up, drink coffee, make breakfast for the kids, clean up breakfast, drink more coffee, get the kids dressed (if we are running errands) or do an activity with them (paints, yoga, etc.). If I can, I sneak in a few minutes of work while they are distracted.

9:30am–12:30pm: Run errands, make lunch, and clean up lunch.

12:30pm–3:30pm: Distract kids with toys, do household chores, sneak in a few more minutes of work, and hopefully put the kids down for a nap.

3:30pm–5:30pm: Prep dinner, cook dinner, and eat.

5:30pm–8:00pm: Clean up dinner while spouse bathes the kids and gets them ready for bed.

8:00pm–10:30pm: Work, then relax.

This is my general schedule. Not every day goes this way. I also try to fit in working out when I can. Sometimes the kids will take long naps, and I will forego tidying up to get some work done.

Just do what works for you and your family. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make a perfect schedule.

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