In the course of our working week we speak to many clients who are adjusting to working at home with kids around. What has become apparent is that most of them set the bar way too high. I can assure you from having spoke to so many homeworkers that you need to be realistic in how you organise your time and your parenting.
It’s All About Survival
Now is the time to embrace what work-from-home parents discovered long ago– it’s not about winning the gold; it’s about aiming for the bronze. This is a perfect moment to finally recognise just how much you’ve been coached to perform parenting. To occupy those little minds with creative and imaginative games. To turn out Nigella-style brownies and then to head into Highgate Woods and make daisy chains or whatever it is you’ve been doing out there. YOU are NOT the ‘Domestic Goddess.’ You are just a parent working from home with kids. It’s time to be basic.
Set a Realistic Schedule
The other day a Hold Everything client who has been homeschooling her kids for a more than a year explained it all to us. So now we can explain it all to you.
Depending on your kid’s age, the support their school is able to deliver, and what your kid can reasonably put up with or do on their own, make a basic, manageable schedule you all can follow (because it’s not only their schedule now, it’s yours, too). Bottom line: You are not an authentic school. Nobody expects you to be a real school. You are just a mum working from home with kids. The very best you can aim for is your kid having something a bit educational or enjoyable to do on the days you work. My homeschool “days” were more like a few hours. I repeat: This is not real school. You can’t replicate a real school. Stop trying.
Food, Water, Fresh Air
The most important items on that timetable, she explained, are activities that seem incredibly boring but are unquestionably critical and somehow also easy to discontinue, she needed to recognise that while she would ensure her kids were fed or they went outdoors to play she would be having a cup of coffee for a meal while hunched over her monitor for hours at a time. Then, not at all surprisingly she’d really lose her temper with her children by 11 a.m. or even earlier. You need to eat, drink and stretch your legs. Eating can be a sandwich, a drink can be water, outside time can be walking the dog or a quick trip to the corner shop.. You might believe you can’t afford the time to do those 3 things, but as my client said, you really need to do them.
Reboot Your Brain.
If you take away nothing else about this advice on working from home working from home with kids let it be this– your brain really needs breaks to work well. Our work experiences from the day we first set foot in an office is we should be grinding away in front of a screen in order to do our jobs well. But that is really nonsense..
We don’t understand that office jobs actually have some breaks included, even if they don’t feel like breaks. A colleague passes by to chat, you pop out to pick up lunch, even meetings take you away from having a constant focus. Working from home with kids we try to replicate what we believe is the nonstop focus we have at work (again: we don’t) and wonder why it doesn’t, well, work. It’s because it is not possible and bad for you. So rather than thinking of helping your kids or making them a snack as taking time away from your own work-related tasks, acknowledge these moments as brief breaks that will allow your brain to reset, and will eventually make your work time a bit more productive once you return to it.
All in the Same Boat.
If distance working from home with kids is a novelty for you then you’re benefiting from a time when so many others are experiencing more or less the same level of disruption. Everyone has kids peeping in on their video calls. Everyone’s dogs are barking loudly in the background. That’s what on/off buttons are for on webcams. We all know work is going to suffer and parenting will also be negatively affected we can’t escape from any of that.. There is no glittering prize waiting for us at the end of this. On the plus side, you know that that you have the amazing support of the team at Hold Everything to help you through, to answer your phone and check your mail. As all our clients know, we make working from home, with or without kids, a workable solution.