With the spread of COVID-19, some of America’s biggest cities are shutting down schools and telling people to “shelter in place”. It’s forcing many small business owners to work from home, whether they like it or not.
If you’re like a lot of us here at Intentionally Inspirational, not only are you working from home but you have little ones running circles around you. Those school closures have brought professional work to a near grinding halt, and we’re struggling to get things done. If this is something you’re not used to, it can be especially jarring.
So, in a little different post this week, I’m going to offer up some tips and tricks to help you get some of those must-do work items done, while still keeping the little ones busy and happy.
Create a Designated Office Space
If you don’t have one already, create a space to call your “office space”. Teach your kids that if you’re in your “office space”, you’re working and you should not be disturbed. In an ideal situation, the “office space” is a room with a door, but if you don’t have that much room in your home, create your “office space” in a place that’s away from where the kids play.
Talk to Your Kids and Practice, Practice, Practice
I really liked this tip from Allison at The Simple Dollar, who has experience trying to work from home with kids close by. Allison says when it comes to older kids talk to them. Let them know that sometimes you have an important client phone call or you need them to keep themselves busy for a few hours so you can get some work done.
But my favorite suggestion comes right after that, hold an emergency drill. Allison says run through some simulations. What happens if the phone rings and mom steps into the back room? What happens if you come into dad’s office and you see him staring intently at the computer? Run through some key scenarios so that hopefully, when the time comes, you won’t have a problem.
Choose a Time When the Kids are Asleep
Are you a morning person or a night owl? One of the best ways to get something done is to do it when the kids are out of the picture, i.e. sleeping. This one requires you to keep long hours, but if you have to get something done, sacrificing your sleep for a few weeks maybe just the ticket.
You can also make use of nap time if you have younger kids. For older ones, designate an hour or two of quiet time. That’s when you send them to their rooms and tell them to keep busy and keep quiet.
If both you and your significant other are stuck working at home, take turns watching the kids. You get mornings and he/she gets afternoons or vice versa. At least then you know you’re going to have an hour or two of uninterrupted work scheduled for each day.
Create a Reward System
Another way to get your kids to respect your work time is to create a reward system. Obviously, this will be a little more difficult with younger kids, but it’s still doable. A reward system is a great way to reward positive behavior and incentivize kids to respect your work time and space.
The site Very Well Family has a series of incentive suggestions for every age kid.
Be Realistic and Prioritize
And the most important point to remember when trying to work from home while the kids are there is to be realistic and prioritize. You are not going to get as much done with the kids present as you will when they’re off at school. If you expect to, you’re going to be disappointed.
That’s why you need to prioritize. Rank your to-do list in order of importance and work your way down. That way even if you don’t accomplish everything, at least you get the things you need to get done, done.
Good luck and stay safe!
Written by Erika Towne