Working From Home With Kids? Tips From the MomsRising Staff
First: Thanks for being here. How are you? In this time of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, many of us are scrambling to figure out how to make work work. If you're one of those who has the option to work from home but also have unexpected coworkers with various care needs alongside, read on for some tips from the MomsRising staff that may help you make this transition smoother.
And if you have a great tip for working from home, please do leave it in the comments! And let us know how you are. We always read comments and would love to read yours.
- Invest in good headphones. They're great for helping me focus as well as for taking calls. Earbuds with a mic are a good option for Zoom calls and video calls if you're in a loud place, while over-the-ear headphones are ideal when I really want to shut out all noise.
Put up some art. If you’re working from home, it helps to have something inspiring to look at. If you have kids at home with you who are able, ask them to make you special art just for your workspace.
- Rule #1: Do not work from bed! Nothing good can come from it!
- Make sure to take a shower every day, ideally before 7pm!
- Get out of the house at least once a day and breath in some fresh air. I have a 1 year old puppy so we go for walks multiple times a day. In the warmer weather I spend a few hours working from a cushioned chair on our front stoop. Even just taking a walk around the neighborhood helps. I’ve been known to take conference calls from these walks as well.
- Where you work is important. For years I didn’t have a home office and worked from my couch a lot (your butt falls asleep quickly and its terrible for your body). Now I have a desk, a comfortable chair, a window, and a desk lamp. It’s made a huge difference!
- Watch The Ellen Show! It will bring you joy and is a nice, easy distraction from the world’s madness. Bonus points if you dance around the living room with your corgi whenever Ellen dances.
- If you are not familiar with video chat for conferencing or one-on-one conversations, get familiar! FB and Google groups both have video chat options, and Zoom is a popular app that allows you to chat for free for up to 30 minutes. A MomsRising member recently shared that she is hosting a virtual workout with a couple of friends! Video is also a great way to support older loved ones or others whose ability to got outside or visit with friends is restricted by contagion concerns.
Pro tip: hiring a fur sitter allows for quiet time while you work and the cost is very reasonable. Added benefit: warm feet for the child.
- Managers! Check out these tips for managing remotely from The Management Center. (And keep an eye out for an upcoming post from us focusing exclusively on tips for managers.)
No shame in the tv game. If it makes you feel better, set it so that the audio is in a different language than you speak at home - look, now your kid is in a language immersion program.
Working from home on video calls is the new mullet - pjs on bottom, blouse/jacket on top. No one needs to be the wiser.
- Don’t feel guilty if you need to turn the t.v. on to get through a conference call or write a memo. We are all just doing our best.
- Try to work outside for a bit if you can -- being in one place all day is not good for mental health!
- Earphones/headset is a must
- Pro tip: No child care? When working with a child at home, creating your own coffee shop can both entertain your toddler while alleviating the woes that come with social distancing practices…
If you have to work from home with a baby or toddler because your child care is closed or unavailable, try to plan all your written/heavy concentration work around naps and do calls while they are awake either by wearing baby and going for a walk or putting the call on speaker phone (so you can both listen - my toddler loves this!) while you both color or move around the house.
Have a playlist! Music can give you that ambiance noise you miss in an office and will even motivate you if you have the right music.
Don’t work in the kitchen. The access to coffee might be too convenient and then you’ll be wired all day.
- Whether you're working from the kitchen table or the couch or an actual home office, keeping all your work things in one area is key. Spreading out from room to room can feel chaotic and require more time looking for things than necessary.
Use those delivery boxes to keep kids entertained! Stock up on dollar store items like feathers, stickers, glue sticks and pompoms to have collage parties. Finally, stock up on baking goods because making pancakes will not only be an activity but it will feed you as well. (@ladydeelg on IG)
Lovingly duct tape your child to the wall, they’ll probably get a kick out of it, as long as you let them down...eventually
Let your child run wild like a banshee because you are too busy and exhausted to keep up with them. Embrace Shroedinger's Theory of Childrearing, which means if you don't acknowledge the disaster occurring under your watch, it hasn't actually occurred.
Snacks, so many snacks
If you do go the TV route but want to limit their time so you don’t get swallowed up by guilt for melting their brains, put on the sleep timer to the time you prefer, so when the tv turns off by itself you can feign shock. Mostly works on younger kids.
- Build ad hoc ninja obstacles in your living room for them to climb on. Oh and crafts are fun too.
It's important to take small breaks with your kid/s outside. Walk and let the brain relax with the kids as well. Let the air touch our cells :)
If you have kids, make sure to have enough coloring supplies, craft material and workbooks. Plan a schedule and give them to kids only in batches.
Your turn! Share your tips and stories below. We'd love to hear from you.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of MomsRising.org.
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