Since you’ve been doing this for a long time, maybe you can give me some advice. I work for a magazine and, like many others now, I’m working from home. That would be okay but the kids are here, too, and I have to supervise their online school lessons.
I really don’t know how you do it! I am constantly interrupted and I can’t seem to get anything done, or finished. Do you have any tips?
I have been working from home for 23 years, running BookLocker and WritersWeekly, virtually supervising employees, working with authors, contractors and vendors, doing all the accounting for the business, and homeschooling our children.
The secret is: Flexibility
When you are accustomed to getting ready in the morning, dropping off the kids at school, and having eight full hours to work, with limited interruptions, being thrown into a home office with kids underfoot can be a bit stressful. However, there IS a way to make it work.
The first piece of advice I have is this. Don’t expect to work 9-5. Ain’t gonna happen.
If you have very young children, work when they are napping, and after you put them to bed at night. When our children were very young, I’d work half the night, and nap when they did to try to get my full eight hours in. I also mastered the art of typing while nursing using a Boppy pillow. I think my back might still be bowed from that.
If you are supervising schoolwork, don’t plan for any work activities that require a lot of concentration during those hours. Put your laptop on the kitchen table, and work alongside the kids when they don’t need your help. Homeschooling lessons actually take less time than conventional school because the kids aren’t experiencing their own interruptions (teacher on her cell phone, Johnny Bad Boy interrupting a lesson, announcements, fire drills, walking from class to class, etc.). Our children were able to do their schoolwork in only three hours per day and they were ahead of their traditionally-schooled peers. Plan your work around their school time if you need to constantly supervise and assist with their lessons.
Enlist older children to help with younger ones. Explain the situation in detail and they won’t grumble about helping out the family so mommy and daddy can work to pay the bills. I disagree with parents who are shielding their children from the current state of our world. Here on No Tan Lines, it’s literally all hands on deck. Everybody has new responsibilities and nobody is complaining.
“Hey, Mason. You like air conditioning, right? Great! I need to work to pay for that cool air so please make dinner tonight. I trust you. You can do it. Let me know if you have any questions.”
“Hey, Max. It’s gonna be really hot today. Can you hang up the shades? And, while you’re at it, can you fill the water tank, and tidy up the cockpit? I’m super busy. Thanks!!”
When children know that finances could be a problem if mom and dad can’t work, they are always happy to help! In addition, this makes them feel important…because they ARE! Let them know every day how imperative their help is. You will see your children quickly mature during this period of stress, and they will thrive. Even better, they will feel much closer to family members, and know they are an extremely important part of the “team” (the family unit).
Finally (and this should really go without saying…), don’t play Netflix in the background when you’re working. And, do NOT surf the news or social media sites. When it’s time to work, WORK. Get as much out of every uninterrupted hour that you can.
Your sleep hours will be weird. Your productivity will be in bits and pieces. And, your sanity might be on the brink for awhile. However, it is possible to be productive with children under foot. In the case of many work-at-home parents, working at home is preferable to the rat race of working in a “real” office.
I wouldn’t trade our lifestyle for anything.
IF ANYONE ELSE HAS ADVICE ON WORKING AT HOME WITH KIDS, PLEASE POST A NOTE IN THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW! 🙂
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