As we adjust to our new normal, parents working remotely are struggling to figure out how to keep up with the demands of their job while ensuring their kids are entertained. Any parent that’s been there on a sick day or snow day knows that this balancing act is no joke. With the majority of Illinois schools and daycares closed through the end of the month, we’ve put together some tips to help keep everyone happy.
Talk to your kids
If your kids are old enough to understand what is going on, be up front that the next few weeks are going to be a little different. Ensure they know that your home will now double as an office, and set schedules and expectations together. You may want to implement a reward system as extra incentive to cooperate.
Designate an area for your “home office”
Whether it is a spare bedroom or corner of your own room, find a well-lit area with a lock that can serve as a work zone. Set boundaries with your kids from entering this space. Don’t use communal areas like the kitchen or living room, where you are likely to get distracted.
Work in shifts
The best part of working from home is the flexibility to choose your own hours. Know that your typical 9-5 work day may need to begin before the kids wake up, and end well after they go to bed. Plan for frequent breaks throughout the day to tend to the kids.
Tag team with your partner
If your partner or significant other is also working from home, try to plan calls or virtual meetings opposite from each other so one person can be in parenting mode when duty calls.
Use breaks as quality time
Take little breaks from work to spend with your kids playing games, doing crafts or reading a book. If it is a nice day and you feel comfortable leaving the house, take a walk or bike ride around the block. Try leaving your phone out of reach to focus on your children.
Prep snack bags
Feeding kids is half the battle. In the evenings, let your children pick out snacks they can enjoy and eat independently the next day. Store them in a special drawer in the fridge or shelf on the pantry within their reach so they can help themselves on demand.
Make busy boxes
Fill a bin with construction paper, crayons, puzzles and toys that you know will keep kids busy for longer blocks of time. When kids interrupt you during a time you need to concentrate on work, send them to the busy box to choose an activity.
Schedule conference calls during naptime
If your little ones still nap, then use the hour or two for conference calls that require your full attention. Speaking of conference calls, be up front with your boss or colleagues that your kiddos are home and you may be interrupted.
Loosen limits on screen time
Desperate times call for desperate measures. We all know that screen time is the best babysitter in times of emergency. From Frozen 2 to Charlotte’s Web, let your kids enjoy new family-friendly movies streaming this month.
Understand and accept that no matter how well you plan, there are times you will get interrupted when working from home. Know that you are not alone, and adopt a roll-with-the-punches attitude. Eventually, this too shall pass.
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