As a parent, sanity is a double-edged sword; you need to address your needs and the needs of your children to make it through any lockdown while maintaining a happy, healthy, and productive home. The task is even more difficult when you’ve still got eight hours of remote work to get in every day. Here are five secrets to keeping kids busy while working from home.
1. Humor them.
They love you—they just need to feel included in your office setup. If your kids are old enough to entertain themselves with coloring books or Play-Doh, give them their own corner or pillow-fort “cubicle.” You can even set up a tiny desk for them to get their “work” done while you focus on yours.
2. Stick to a schedule.
If your kids are at home for school closures, you need to fill the vacuum of school structure with your own. They’re used to lunch, recess, storytime, and naptime at certain times each day. Replicate that at home whenever possible, or create your own day plan and commit to it. (“No snacks right now; we’re coloring first.”)
3. Set up a canteen.
If you provide your kids with a reward system, they’ll have no problem adopting it—provided your rewards are something they’d really want. That can mean snacks and treats in the pantry, video game time, to Netflix time, or even the Wi-Fi password. Assign these rewards to tasks like chores, good deeds, and take-home assignments from school. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even involve fake currency like board game tokens or Monopoly money.
4. Choose a breakroom.
Your office had a break room; your home needs one as well. It can be your breakfast nook, a chair by the window, or your apartment terrace. Even just escaping to your bedroom (no kids allowed) and locking the door for 10 minutes can do wonders to mentally reset before diving back into work.
5. Dress for success.
No need to put on full tux and tails, but putting on pants is always a good start to a productive day working from home. Dressing in business casual sends a message to your little ones that you may be home, but you’re still at work. It also provides that subtle psychological jumpstart for yourself to kick off the workday like any other.
Working from home takes discipline. But so does parenting. Working from home with kids can work if you let it. If you establish a system that keeps everyone at home happy and productive, that precious sanity will soon follow.