You power up your laptop, log into your email and take a sip of coffee. Just as you’ve found your work zen, the door bursts open and in comes your preteen. Your three-year-old has managed to get stuck in the doggie door and now you need to get her out.
It’s hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago, you were traveling across the state or working in an office with colleagues that did not throw fruit loops at each other. But, here you are! So, what can you do about it?
1. Create Separate Office Space
If possible, your go-to option should be an area that is comfortable with a door you can close and even lock. Set a specific time of day when you work and make it clear to the family that you are only available for emergencies during this time. This only works if you do not have small children or if there is another parent or caretaker in the home.
2. Get Some Help
The good news is that if you are a single parent, you may still have access to help. Is there another single parent who may want to bunker down with you for the quarantine? You can take turns working and watching the kids. You might even have a childless sibling or friend who feels up to the challenge. Don’t be afraid to call up mom or dad either.
3. Spend Time With Family
In the first few days, you might find that you neither spend more time with your family nor get any work done. Set aside specific time for you to be together and relax. This could be a two-hour lunch break at midday or some time after dinner. Children might be less likely to keep knocking at the door if they get a designated time to see you and know what time that is.
4. Put the Kids to Work
If the children are getting into too much trouble and making too much noise, keep those hands busy. If they can keep up with the chores, that frees you to keep working. They could also do homework, get a headstart on projects or just read a book. Even when they have nothing to do, they might try to appear busy and behaved to avoid getting assigned something else.
5. Keep Kids Entertained
Work is good for the kids, but a little fun time is good too. Once work is out of the way and homework is taken care of, allow them to do the things they love. This might include binge-watching TV shows, playing video games, doing puzzles or playing fetch with the dog in the backyard. Got kids who like to sleep in? Even better!
6. Work During Quiet Time
Most children have a time of day when they are less active. Sometimes, this is in the afternoon. Other times, it may be in the dead of night. It might take a toll on you to reprogram your body clock, but it might be the only way you can get work done without distractions.
Working from home with kids during COVID-19 quarantines is often difficult. But, before we complain, it’s important to remember this is a privilege compared to the doctors, nurses, cleaners, police officers and security officers who have to work throughout the crisis. Offer them as much support as you can and be kind when you interact with them during grocery runs or that quick trip to the office to pick up a file.