Despite the stereotypes, having a career and being an engaged member of your family are absolutely possible. As with all important things in life, you have to learn how to balance and prioritize your responsibilities. Remote working, or working from home, is a great way to start bringing your career closer to your family and make it easier for you to stay near your kids. Of course, setting up your office at home presents a whole new set of challenges, but nothing that you cannot handle!
We know that you love your kids; they are such an important part of life and bring the feelings of excitement and wonder that we often miss in our adult world. As much as we enjoy spending time with our kids, they can be a bit counterproductive to focusing on work. One of the best ways to manage working from home with kids is to set a schedule that designates times for work and play. It is a well-known fact that children respond well to having a routine so they can learn and execute expectations, and this is a great strategy to apply to working from home.
Once you have settled into a general rhythm with remote working, you can start implementing the plan for your family. If you tend to have a lot of conference calls in the morning, maybe set aside work time from 8am-12pm. That way you can answer emails, participate in calls, and get your workday up and running. Lunchtime is the perfect time to interact with your kids because you can cook your meals and sit down at the table to talk; it also gives you the opportunity to take a “long lunch” and have a little play time with your kids. Or, for those of you who have slightly older children who are in pre-school, the lunch hours are usually when carpool pick-up occurs so you can go get them from school. Now, you are spending time with them and without the distraction of phone calls from your boss or playing with toys.
After lunch and play, you need to go back into “work-mode”. Close your office door, schedule your kids for some quiet time in their rooms, or, if you are so lucky, put them down for nap time. These are important hours for doing the meat of your job; you can work on projects, call your team members, and catch-up/set-up any necessary tasks for the rest of the week. This period should end around dinner time when your spouse comes home, dinner is set, or you start dinner. At the risk of sounding cliché, the dinner table is one of the best ways to spend quality time with your family and learn more about each other. Turn off the TV because this can be a useful method to keep in your back pocket when your kids are being wild while you are working and talk to them or goof around. It provides them, and you, with the time you all need to have fun and bond with each other outside of the craziness of reality. Then, put them to bed and shut off your computer for the night.
Another handy tip for working from home with kids, create a fun sign to hang outside of your work area. Make a list of different activities you may be doing: busy time, answering emails, on an important call, ready to play, bathroom break, etc. You can use a paper clip or a clothes pin to slide back and forth so that your children know when to play on their own and when they are welcome to visit with you in your office. Note: Pinterest has some great examples of how to create one.
It can be an absolute joy to work at home with your kids while completing your work efficiently and masterfully. Use these tips to bring some order to your life and ensure you are being the best parent and employee you can be!