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Whether you’re working from home through choice, or current circumstances have made it unavoidable, it’s not always that easy to be as productive as you’d like to be, especially with children at home.
I mean, how is it even possible to get anything done?!
I’ve asked some parents who are experienced at working from home with young children for their top work from home productivity tips.
1. Give yourself some grace
Firstly, the main thing we can do at the moment is be kind to ourselves – it’s probably just not going to be possible to get as much work done as we might like, and that’s okay.
We’re all in the same boat and these times are tough enough as it is without piling on guilt about how much we get done either with our kids or for work.
2. Structure is key
Nicole from Well Parenting says ‘The two most important things to keep in mind are structure and flexibility.
You have to have a schedule that structures your day into work time, school time, and play time. Discuss the schedule with your kids, allow them to give their input, and clearly tell them what your expectations are for them during the day.
You must also have the flexibility to work and teach in a different way from what you’re used to. You might work at night, you might allow extra screen time, you might teach through online classes and experiential learning. Your old ideas of how work and school are supposed to go no longer apply.’
Michelle from Time and Pence agrees. She suggests that having a daily routine in place makes things much easier.
I had my son doing school work from home for 8 weeks last year while I worked from home and routine, structure and plenty of breaks is key. Get up and dressed as if they are going to school, have a daily schedule of their activities, set each one up with them then leave them to it and tell them not to interrupt you unless they need help.
Ensure there are no distractions, tv is off etc. After each activity give them a short break where they can play or put the tv on for 10 minutes. Once they get into a daily routine it becomes quite easy and they know what to expect each day.
3. Make Lists
Emma from EmmaReed.net suggests making lists of manageable tasks. She advises to make two lists, one for work jobs and one for family life.
She says ‘Keep the list to the important tasks, filter out things that can wait and prioritise the big jobs. Ticking these off will not only help to keep your mind clear but it will also be satisfying to see that you are making progress when you may feel that you aren’t.’
4. Try the Pomodoro approach
Fiona from Financially Independent Me suggests trying the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy where you use a timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals, each followed by a short 5 minute break. Once you’ve completed 4 cycles, you then take a longer break of up to 30 minutes.
Set up a timetable to do reading, practice writing, craft, and other early years activities including short breaks. After lunch, take them out for some fresh air and exercise, then let them choose a quiet time activity like reading, watching a film or colouring.
Their quiet time is your work time. Use the pomodoro technique to get lots of work done in 25 minute bursts while the children are occupied.
5. Set up work stations
Tantrums To Smiles blogger Jess suggests setting up work stations for the kids that they can navigate themselves so you don’t have to keep stopping to set up new activities. Things like a reading corner with a selection of books, an art corner with paper and paints/crayons/chalk etc, a maths station with work sheets or cubes etc and a writing station with paper, worksheets and pens etc.
Kids can navigate and choose their stations as they please.
You can do the same thing with stations for play too.
Christy from Welsh Mum says ‘I’ve set up a mud kitchen, a sand pit and a small playhouse in the garden, next to a table and chairs where I will be working outside on my tablet whenever the weather allows. This keeps him occupied, lets me work, and gets us both fresh air!’
6. Let kids help
If you can get your kids involved in your work then it’s a great way to make them feel helpful and valued. Ross from TeddyEvaScents says ‘Get them to do some of the work for you. What’s the point of running a family business if you can’t get your daughter to be a model, or to help with the stickers.’
7. Be flexible
Don’t feel that you have to keep to normal working and school hours; try and be flexible to your own family needs and what works best for you.
Catherine from Growing Family says ‘If you can, flex your working hours so that they slot in at a time when the kids are the easiest to look after – that could be after they’ve gone to bed, when your partner finishes work, when you allow them screen time, the time of day when they’re at their most chilled etc. When I manage this I always get more done in less time.’
8. Go easy on yourself
Becci from The Unnatural Mother suggests making use of things kids can do without help, such as activity books, easy crafts and having a snack tray you can fill each day for them to use. She says ‘most of all , go with the flow. Your house is going to be a utter chaotic mess . There will always be time to tidy later.’
Remember you are winging it and so is everyone else. Go easy on yourself and your child and make it fun!
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