Every once in awhile, you may find yourself needing to work from home. Maybe it’s because your kids are sick, or perhaps you are stuck inside because of a blizzard. It could be that you have to work from home because of a power outage at the office, or, I don’t know, maybe you are quarantined by a pandemic.
Whatever the reason, it can be ridiculously difficult to work from home, especially if you have multiple small children in the house. Here are some tips for working moms who may be working at home for the next few weeks — for whatever reason.
1. Ask your kids to create a schedule.
If you have grade school-aged kids, they are incredibly familiar with the idea of the schedule. Most elementary teachers live and breathe by their plans. Bathroom breaks are even carefully coordinated and scheduled.
Give your kids some parameters, and have them create their own schedule. You may say that their plans should include at least two hours of outdoor playtime, one hour of cleaning or organizing, one hour of reading, etc. Make sure they schedule plenty of non-screen playtime in their day as well. Encourage them to break up the time in 15 or 30-minute segments. Early grade school kids aren’t developmentally able to focus for long stretches at a time.
2. Quit worrying about messes.
We know it’s hard, but it may be time to lighten up regarding messes in the house. It may go against every grain in your body, but you may want to even encourage your kids to make a mess.
For example, throw every blanket on the floor and tell your kids to create a massive fort out of all the furniture and quilts.
Spread art supplies out over the dining room table and have them paint, color, cut, and craft all day long.
Challenge your kids to build a Lego bridge between two end tables.
Kids will make a mess of your house while they are creating and learning. Take a deep breath, close your office door, and let it happen.
Of course, kids should learn to pick up after themselves, but be thoughtful about how you do it. After all, you want to encourage creativity and experimentation. Will you do that if you scream at them afterward about every stray mark on the kitchen table or Lego that only comes out of hiding when you walk across the floor in your bare feet?
3. Make good use of screen time.
Most studies show that you have to be extremely vigilant about the amount of screen time your child experiences. The reality is that the days are long, and you have a lot of work to complete. When your kids are on screens, they are quiet enough to enable you to work.
Instead of obsessing about how much time your child is spending online, why not have them spend time on educational websites? Or have them take a virtual tour of a museum? Or listen to stories?
Yes, it may be hard monitoring what they are looking at unless you are sitting at the table with them. You may think that your kids are on Scholastic’s website only to hear the familiar sounds of your kid’s favorite YouTube star.
4. Give them age-appropriate chores.
Kids need to learn how to complete household chores correctly. Give your child a list of must-do tasks, but let them choose when to do them throughout the day.
Ask them to fold towels and dust the furniture. Some older kids may even enjoy the challenge of organizing the pantry by alphabetizing the spices. Ask them to wipe off door handles, remotes, and phones with Clorox wipes. Teach them how to use the vacuum.
Maybe your kids will make a mess in the process of cleaning, and of course, no one knows how to properly fold towels except for you. Use their messes as a teachable moment, and understand that they don’t see the disorder as you do.
5. Work alternative hours.
It’s going to be hard getting quality work done when your kids are home. That’s the reality, and it stinks. Instead of becoming irritated by the interruptions, you may need to consider working an alternate schedule.
Get up as early as possible to get a jump on your emails before the kids awake. Take advantage of nap time to get some expense reports done. If you can think past 9 p.m., use those late hours to write or analyze statistics.
6. This, too, shall pass.
Working from home with kids is very difficult. Take a deep breath, America.
This article was originally posted at Midlife Single Mommy.