21 Apr Working from home tips
Lots of people are having to suddenly work from home and with very little warning or prep time, they have had to find a structure that works. A lot of us have had to combine this with looking after children and/or home schooling, which has made an intense situation, even more intense! We have some Toddle top tips which we hope will help:
- Communicate – It’s important to explain to the children at home that you are working and it’s also important to be honest to colleagues that you have children at home. A lot of people will be in the same boat and this is such an exceptional circumstance, no one is going to think you aren’t dedicated if you have to pause mid way through a conference call! Talking to children about what’s happening will help them to understand the situation. Reassure them that you are still there for them and explain that at certain times you might not want to be disturbed (this is a lot easier with older kids) Try discussing a rota or timetable with your partner so that they can share the workload, chores and kids play. Discuss when you might need to make calls and adapt accordingly. A visible rota displayed somewhere is a good idea and could also include the children’s home school day too.
- Accept distractions – The doorbell, deliveries, children running around in the background are all part of our working environments at the moment. Some of these distractions cannot be prevented. You could try working from a different room to the children or setting up activities for them in a different area if you have tasks to do that require concentration and quiet.
- Structure – Structuring the day is important. Your routine and theirs has dramatically changed so creating a new one is a good way to start. A family timetable is a great way to plan your week, this could outline everyone’s work and school tasks and also factor in chores. Now the family are at home, everyone can start to pitch in and help run the household. This is a great time to teach the children to make beds, wash dishes, wash clothes and tidy up. Designate a separate time on the timetable where everyone helps to tidy up together, this way the house will be tidy before bedtime. Also consider which treats you are going to save for the weekend, so it feels different.
- Exercise – Factor in exercise and fresh air into the day if possible. The children will love getting out for a leg stretch and a bit of exercise. This will also ease the tensions of everyone being in close proximity. Take advantage of the free exercise classes online, many are family friendly. This could even be a fun activity that you will stick to when normal life resumes.
- Keep it realistic– Structure the day and write your to do list the night before. Be realistic with the work that you aim to get done. If you can share some tasks with colleagues who don’t have children or set aside bigger projects until the lockdown is eased it might help.
- Adapt your workspace: If possible, set up a space in your working area for the kids, this could be a mini desk, play laptop, travel cot or play pen. You could set up a craft activity to run alongside your work or a desk space for older kids to do their school work. It is also a good idea to set up your work station away from the kitchen table, this prevents you from having to pack up all your work when you need to set the dinner table.
- Time it right: If possible, arrange important calls around nap time, if the child is a little older have quiet play or encourage older children to read a book. This might also give you the chance to grab that cup of tea or pop a load of washing on.
- Eat together: Make sure that you try and have a family meal altogether, you could start the day by all enjoying breakfast and discussing the day’s activities. You could all have a dinner together every evening and reconnect, discuss the highlights of the day and your plans for activities later in the week. I’ve heard that some people have been dressing up for a meal by putting on their best clothes, this must feel great after wearing joggers for weeks on end (even if you did pop on that work shirt on your top half for that zoom call!). Try and avoid screens at the table so that everyone can concentrate on talking to each other.
- Give yourself a break! There will more than likely be a lot more screens being used in the home during this time, especially if the weather is miserable. Rules that you set down prior to lockdown might need to be revisited and slightly relaxed. It’s important that you still have some control over what your children are watching and who they are communicating with – parental restrictions and app controls will help. Make sure you set clear screen time boundaries and discuss appropriate consequences. Children are cut off from their peers at the moment so communication via the internet is going to be very important for them. Enjoy watching them chat to friends via zoom, my son has even played Lego via a video call with his friends. A ban of work calls and screens on weekends and more of a focus on family time might help you create a balance too.
- Be Social! At the end of a busy day, communicate with friends. Most people are in the same boat and it will help to talk about it. It’s also really important to make time for yourself throughout the day and in the evening. A cup of tea in the garden whilst the children have quiet play, a bubble bath at the end of the day or even half an hour to read a book or listen to a TED talk will go a long way to help you feel relaxed and sane.