Summer is a great time of year for families, but for some parents it can wreak havoc on productivity at work and overall scheduling. Hauling your kids to and from camps or activities and starting another routine can be tiresome and uncertain. Below are a few tips on how to stay on task if you get stuck working from home with restless children.
- Plan, Plan, Plan. Create a schedule for your day. Schedules are everyone’s friend. A tweak here and there may be necessary, but overall it is very beneficial that everyone involved is fully aware of the schedule and therefore expectations are set. Kids are less prone to meltdowns and you are more likely ready to mentally take on the day. If you can put the schedule up in a communal space and plan out meals, the day will go much smoother. Everything from clean up time, conference calls to quiet time needs to be on the schedule.
- Get up earlier and stay up later. Speaking of schedule, part of this well thought out day of yours should involve rising early to check emails and see what kind of unexpected projects may have come up and also to prepare any meals or workspace. If you do not do this already, getting yourself out of bed before the kids rise can make a world of difference when it comes to organization and mental capacity for the day’s tasks. Also helpful is to plan on doing certain tasks after they have gone to bed that require serious concentration or are not as vital as conference calls or major problems that arise. It also gives you peace of mind to know that you have a chunk of the day that will be quiet so you can re-organize yourself and stay on task.
- Set aside busy work. Many tasks can be left for another day if you do not normally work from home. Keep the important calls and fire drills as your highest priority, because you never know what could go on at home. The best time to work through busy work might be at night or in the morning, because it is likely mindless work. Do not try to accomplish too much while being distracted by children or it may take you twice as long or you could make vital mistakes you will regret.
- Plan activities they can do independently. Depending on the age of your children, there are plenty of activities, crafts or even work tasks you can assign them. For example, if you have mail or packages to assemble you can find out how many they can get done in an hour and reward with an outing to get ice cream or their favorite activity. If you have multiple kids of similar age you can create a contest for who can do it fastest. Either way, this is a good way to give them purpose and buy you some time to wrap your head around your work.
- Save naps or screen time for conference calls. If you know you have two important calls during the day, be sure that your kids are all geared up to be distracted or playing quietly. In order to gain you at least 30 min – 1 hour of quiet time, they should be rested, fed and have a game or scheduled screen. If you are truly organized, have a few new movies in your back pocket that they do not know about. Do not forget to have this already scheduled on your family board.
- Get out before the whining starts. If you plan your day appropriately, you know that there is a solid chunk of the day the kids will get bored or restless. Factor this into your productivity. This is the time of day you will make up for at night and it’s time to pay attention to them, get outside or do an activity together. Try to schedule at least two times a day when you can go for an outing to the park, a store, the library or for a nice bike ride or walk. Arguing or forcing them to stay quiet will just wreak more havoc on your productivity and cause unnecessary tension.
Juggling kids at home and work can be very difficult and hard to explain to co-workers who do not have children. Hopefully you work for an understanding company and have this ability. Cut yourself some slack and do what you can. Try to warn your co-workers of your schedule and also alert them when you are available or unavailable. Make up for some of the time on the weekends if need be, but organization and discipline is the best thing you can do to keep on tasks. A schedule will set expectations with the kids with no major surprises. Enjoying a long lunch with them will go a long way letting them know you are still a high priority. That’s why you were able to schedule them in to your day.