Working from home when you’re looking after children can be a struggle, especially if you have limited time to work and deadlines to meet. But with a little planning, you can work more efficiently without neglecting your child. The following suggestions focus more on attitude and lifestyle choices to increase your productivity while working from home with children.
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Establish a Work Routine
As soon as you can, begin a work routine so that your child sees your work as a normal part of every day. Having a structure, including work, breaks, and meal times, will help your child become accustomed to the rhythm of your day.
When they’re younger, keep work sessions shorter and extend them as your child gets older. It also helps to schedule child-centered activities immediately after work periods. When your child knows what to expect, they’ll be more relaxed and need less attention.
Optimize Work Times
Schedule your most important work for when you know your child will be better behaved. While this can be unpredictable, if you look at recent behavior you can often pinpoint the times of day when they’re less likely to disturb you. It could be in the morning, in the afternoon, or when their favorite TV show is on. At these peak times, work hard.
Manage Calls Professionally
When there are too many household distractions, or when you’re spending scheduled time with your child, let the voicemail take your messages. Alternatively, begin a text conversation when appropriate. The last thing you want is your child screaming at you in the background during a business call. If your child is in the room when you have to make a call, make it clear that you must not be interrupted during the call. If an interruption happens, put the call on mute.
Work Through Naptime
If your child is young enough, take full advantage of the free time you have when they’re asleep. Whether it’s early in the morning or in the afternoon, use the time to work through the most urgent projects. Don’t be tempted to load the dishwasher or call a friend. This time is precious.
Schedule Kid Breaks
Taking short breaks to spend quality time with your child will also give you time to unwind. The attention you give your child throughout the day will help them feel less neglected and you’ll have more energy for the next work session.
Your child shouldn’t be allowed to constantly interrupt you, but you should be available when they need you. It’s important for their emotional development, and if it means spending a minute with them to calm them down or set up a new activity, it’s worth it in the long run.
Take a Proper Lunch Break
Eating in front of your computer may seem more efficient, but it’s a wasted opportunity. Not only will eating with your child help strengthen your relationship, it will give you a well-deserved break. Focus on enjoying your lunch and your mind will be clearer when you return to work.
Working from home is a great opportunity to encourage your child to be independent. Make sure your child has access to cups, plates, food and drinks, so that they can make their own refreshments and snacks. This will develop their feelings of accomplishment and you can get more work done.
Change the Setting
When the weather is fine, try moving your working environment to the backyard. Your child can play outside and you can still keep an eye on them. Don’t make this a regular occurrence if your main working area is inside, but an occasional change of environment can introduce some variety into your work routine and support your child’s development.
Taking It Further
Keeping your child occupied is obviously a key part of working successfully from home. Every work-at-home parent should plan a set of activities for their children while they work. Aim for things that allow children to play independently or with each other. Online learning games and special toys can save the day when you need to focus on work. Educational videos on YouTube are also useful – just give your child a pair of headphones so you don’t get disturbed.
However hard you try, some days will be better than others. The key to staying motivated is to remember why you’re working from home in the first place. If you really need more time to focus on work, consider hiring someone for a few hours per week to watch your child. When you get the balance right, you can enjoy a happier family life and steadily build a more successful business.