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Thursday, April 23, 2020

How to Work From Home With Kids

It dawned on me today that many people are struggling with the new-to-them concept of how to work from home with kids. Since I have over 12 years of experience doing just that, I thought I would take a few minutes out of my day to share some things that have helped me over the years.

When I first started working from home with kids we had three kids in the house, but luckily two of them went to school during the day. The youngest one was still at home and only 20 months old at the time. She ended up becoming the "mail person" and would deliver mail to me when my wife went to the mailbox for the mail. Overall, this time period wasn't too bad.

The real challenge came during the summer months when the kids were home all day. Sure, there were days they would go to the skate park or to the splash pad at the community center, but a lot of their time was spent at home, "bored."

Over the years, every summer was another challenge. Then, in 2011 we had our fourth child. Now the ages ranged from a newborn baby to our oldest, who was 11 at the time. Talk about an adventure. Phew! So, needless to say, during this time of pandemic quarantine and stay-at-home orders, my three youngest kids are home again. The difference this time is that they have work to do too! Their classes continue with e-learning and online classwork, even though the school building is closed. You've got to love technology.

Without further adieu, here are my top tips on how to work from home with kids.

1. Set a schedule for both you and the kids. I can't emphasize this one enough. They need to have a schedule just like in school, to help them stay on track. If you're doing actual job type work at home, then you need a schedule too, and for the same reason. My only caveat on this one is don't be too granular. Set aside blocks of time for schoolwork, outside time, meals, family time, etc., but don't plan things down to the minute. Be flexible. This is tough for everyone.

2. Make yourself available to help the kids with their schoolwork. This may seem counter-intuitive since you would really like to be working while they are working. You can, but you need to be ready to help if they need help. Remember, they are used to having a teacher to go to and while their teachers may be doing instructional videos, it isn't the same as having them in the classroom to help work out the rough spots.

3. Set aside a just for schoolwork and your work. This can be a corner of the living room, a spare bedroom, or a time at the kitchen table that is only for work. If you do decide to use the kitchen table, however, I highly recommend removing any food and drink that is there so as to not encourage bad habits with electronics and to protect yourself from the almost inevitable accident.

4. While family time is recommended each day (even if it's just TV downtime together), I also recommend a family game night and a family movie night. These breaks will help you maintain your sanity, especially if you are under stay-at-home-orders. You can effectively take a break from the monotonous grind of daily work and bond as a family together.

5. Keep a positive attitude, especially around the kids. You might be stressed out and having a bad day but you have to keep your attitude on the up-and-up. Attitudes are contagious. You'll find that a negative attitude will rub off on the kids and they will have a negative attitude as well.

That wraps up my top tips for how to work from home with kids. The main thing is having a schedule, but remain flexible. Sometimes shit happens and you just have to roll with it. I hope this not only gives you hope that it can be done, but provides you with some ideas that are helpful on your journey.

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