Here’s some advice that works better than screaming, “Not now, I’m on the phone!’
1. Make Your Expectations Clear. Your children need to know the difference between you as a working parent vs hanging out parent. So here are a few things that work for me:
• Choose a designated work space (an office, a desk, a dining room table) that sets the expectation that when you are sitting there that you are working and that you need to be left alone when you’re in that space.
• Create a routine. My daughter knows I work from 8am-3pm. So even though she’s being homeschooled during this time, she quickly adjusted to my routine. She has breakfast at 8am, lunch at noon, and free to stop working at 3pm to play.
• Avoid noise interruptions. I let my daughter know everyday the time I need her to be quiet for calls and she also lets me know what time she has Zoom calls with her teacher, too. Explain consequences for being disruptive.
• Prepare for “I’m bored!” to be said often. Create a list of things for them to do when they feel bored, try to avoid endless hours of screen time. Choose board games, crafts, reading, Legos, dolls, coloring, painting, sports, dancing, skating, cleaning up, etc.
2. Now back to you! You need to create a schedule and stick to it! You will get distracted for the first couple of weeks, it will be hard to focus on work when you have a pile of laundry or dishes! You will find yourself wasting your work time doing personal housework. One thing that I do is block my time. I do an hour block of work and then I go downstairs to the kitchen to wash dishes and make something to eat. I go back to my office and do another hour block of time and tackle another distraction. I’m gracious to myself. Working from home is not the same as being at the office and you must accept this new normal. You can be flexible; you can do chores in your home but set deadlines and enforce your schedule.
3. Reward yourself and the kids! I play a game and I set goals on Monday and I celebrate a small victory on Wednesday with ice cream or a cocktail if I’m on track and Friday I’ll “clock out early” and spend “Fun Friday” with my daughter doing an activity we both enjoy such as watching a movie, playing UNO, a pizza party, or doing manicures and pedicures on each other!
During this time, you will survive! Be clear and communicate often with your children. Show them through your actions how to be disciplined and how to have a balanced life full of passion and accomplishments! My prayers are with you.