Having a job where you can work from home has so many benefits; no commuting and lots of peace and quiet to help with focus… until now of course, the school holidays are upon us!
If you are the one in charge of childcare as well as the one working from home, then you may feel like you are juggling the impossible and compromising all… you , your work and your children.
So, the summer holidays have arrived and your children are about to invade your workspace. You need to work, but your little ones need your attention and you’re about to hear the dreaded words “I’m bored!”. So how can you balance your family and work needs?
There are lots of solutions available including childcare and holiday clubs, but these just eat through your hard earned cash. There may be grandparents and other family and friends, but they may not be local or they may not be able/willing to help.
Here are a few tips that may make the whole experience a lot more manageable:
Plan your working schedule and agree it with your family
Set yourself hours to work at home; when you start, finish and break for lunch should be clearly defined boundaries; explain them to your children and set the expectation that you need to achieve them.
Stick to them too, if you promise your children that you will not overrun but then do, it makes all other expectations harder to implement.
Dress for work
This serves two purposes. It gets you in the right mindset to achieve your work, and also send a strong signal to your children that you are in work mode.
Try some more cost-effective childcare options
Consider speaking to some other working parents and see if you can share some childcare with them by helping look after each others children at key times . This is a cost-effective way to get a morning or two covered; or even a day or two if you’re feeling brave… remember you have to return the favour!
Be an early riser
The early morning can be your friend, especially if your children aren’t in the habit of being early risers. Get your alarm set bright and early and use the early hours to get some work achieved before the children stir.
Signs for silence
There is nothing worse (for you or your children) than a noisy disturbance when you are making an important business call. If this happens, the chances are that you are going to sound unprofessional, you are going to get angry and your children are going to be told off… all a recipe for an unhappy household.
Why not create a signal for your children when you are on the phone and mustn’t be disturbed; a simple sign that you can display might just help keep the peace you need and help the children remember that you need it… perhaps a treat for observing might be in order?
Make time for fun
Yes, it is the children’s holidays and they will want to see you take some down time from work. Sit down with your family and plan some activities and events fro everyone to look forward to together; you will feel less torn and your family will see the effort you are making.
Work when you’re working
So, you’ve decided your working hours, so discipline yourself and focus. Resist the temptation to stop for a quick family movie, or to pop a load of washing in… If you were working in the office, you wouldn’t do this.
If you have young children at home when you’re working, you need to make sure that you have the means to keep them entertained independently planned. There is little point in getting frustrated with your children for interrupting you if all you have left them with is their mobile phone.
You need to ensure they have an activity to keep them amused for a decent stretch of time. Activities that can work well include creating a special movie afternoon, darkening the room, making popcorn and getting the kids to snuggle up – guaranteed peace and quiet for two hours.
Lego challenges can be useful. Challenge your kids to build a creation using all of their lego. Tidying up after can be a challenge, but it’s a great way to earn a little more work time… it’s amazing how older siblings can enjoy ‘being a kid’ for a few hours.
Get your children to design a poster of the activities you have already completed with them, or the ones that you have planned to do in the holidays.
Throw in a bit of learning with some literacy and numeracy challenges (depending on which you children prefer)… six weeks is a long time to go without some learning thrown in.
If they are old enough, prepare some ingredients and leave your children with a recipe to complete… They could even have lunch ready for your to enjoy together!