Working from Home – With Children!

Untitled designChinedu Nzom – May 7th 2020

March 23rd 2020 – a day Canadians will not forget in a hurry. The day Canadians unanimously agreed to save lives by staying home. 

Daily schedules abruptly changed with no warnings or preparations. Commutes to work stopped, traffic ceased, and automatically, almost everyone became work from home personnel. That is, everyone except our daily heroes – the essential workers.

I am sure that by the end of this ordeal people will have a better view of what it means to work from home, along with its pros and cons. 

Initially, the thought of working from home was an ineffective mode of work-life by traffic commuters and office workers. Today, the concept of working from home tests one’s skills in personal management, home management, time management, and for those with kids, taking care of the children.

Before the COVID-19 lockdown, for most people, working from home went according to the following schedule;

  • Wake up 6 – 7 am: prepare meal boxes for family
  • 8:15 am: See the kids off at the school’s bus stop or drop them off at school
  • 9 am – 4 pm: Work schedule

If, like me, you’re already working from home, I bet COVID-19 is messing with your home-based business. Whenever I sit down to do some market research or crush it at work, my children decide it is playtime or time for siesta or lunch; which these days seem to be like twice a day for lunch alone. 

When it is time to help with school work, I get a Google calendar notification reminding me of an appointment with a prospective client, or a call back from a supplier I’ve been trying to reach. Let’s not forget the spouses as well; they do need attention too. Mine usually thinks I am done with my work when he ends his office work for the day. I too do the same – I also need the attention of my spouse. Hello!

These days every day seems to be a blur mostly, I have to admit, due to lack of planning and preparation and most importantly as is the case with a family – getting everyone on board to follow instructions accordingly.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

This period will test not just your skills, but also relationships amongst family members – the level of tolerance and appreciation each family has for one another. To overcome the stress of managing your day, you need to create schedules for you and your family.

Yes! To have a fulfilling day, you must prepare the day before: a schedule, detailing what you need to carry out and the tasks you intend to achieve. Every member of the family needs to be on regular programs. Of course, setting up the schedule might be the natural part – the challenge is following the plan. 

Several times since March, I set up a personal schedule planner breaking down my tasks to its nitty-gritty – taking a peek at my calendar could give you a slight headache. However, I noticed that not including the schedule plans for my kids and husband, the people around me would go with the flow of the situation. Incorporating time for my family in my schedule planner has enabled me to create spare time to enjoy ‘family-time’ without feeling like another chore.

As a parent, you must set boundaries that everyone understands and that they can learn, with ease, the consequences of not following the schedule. 

Please bear in mind these suggestions should apply to what works in your home, and are not a generic to-do list. Below are some ideas I learned from successful work-from-home mum and  CEO of BeyondDiet.com – Isabel De Los Rios on ‘Homeschooling Secrets for Entrepreneurs and Busy Parents‘.

Create a realistic schedule.

Try not to overwhelm your children with rigid must-do lists. Teach them to wake up early enough and prepare for the day. Of course, they will learn this only when you lead by example.

The minds of children are like sponges, and they tend to absorb what they see around them quickly. When they see you succeed at achieving your daily goals by following your schedule – especially in a flexible but committed manner – they will love to support you and accomplish their daily goals as well.

Make the non-classroom activities fun. 

Teach them the benefits of improving themselves from reading, math skills, creative skills, and spiritual growth. Remember, a healthy mind is real wealth.

Set boundaries within your plan. 

There is a time for everything: a time to eat, study, work, play and time for personal improvement.

Staying home with kids, you must have learned that you can’t keep your children bottled up doing anything. Keeping everyone supposedly busy without a schedule will lead to anxiety and tension between parents, spouses and children. 

Luckily, school boards across Canada have provided access to online learning materials. These materials will enable children to continue to learn according to the school curriculum. However, after the school’s schedule, take the kids out for a walk or run to get their blood circulation flowing. 

Enjoy the beauty of nature and remind them there is still life after COVID-19. Keep their spirits up, and they will learn the impact of thinking positively. 

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

When setting boundaries, don’t make it so stern by focusing on discipline. Your child or children may perceive this approach as uncaring, unwanted, seeming too controlled and restrained. Make it a learning experience they look forward to and enjoy.

Learning in school is excellent, but we have come to learn – before COVID-19 – that lessons from life skills are highly valued as well. 

Rest when you need to rest.

Rather than view the current situation as stress, take some time to map out an action plan to put your life and home in order. Make every experience an opportunity to prepare your children for success in the future, and show them how to overcome any challenge they face in life. 

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

On the subject of boundaries, you should certainly train your children to understand when it’s “mummy’s time” and when it’s “mummy’s me time”

Mummy’s time is when you – we – have to take off our business woman hat and put on our mum’s hat. We work with our children on their homework, daily meals and more. You get the drift. It is the moment when the world around you sees you as the Superhero – Mummy!!!

Mummy’s me time is that moment you need to listen to the still breeze and enjoy your personal space – in silence. As women, we do need our quick recovery time to avoid breaking down – mentally, physically and emotionally.

“It is human to err; it is divine to recover” – my mantra when I need rest.

Find your magic hour. 

Get your kids and yourself to bed early as possible, and wake up early in the morning. If you’re like me, this has been a struggle from the onset. Recently, I rediscovered how to use Google’s family link app – we are an Android and Google family. Using this app has made it easier to;

  • control how long the kids stay on any their mobile phones or tablets 
  • which website they visit
  • what time they gain access to use the device and 
  • what time it locks up the device

Once the screens go off, they sleep within 10 to 15 minutes.

In getting the kids and myself to bed early, I can achieve a few, but highly productive, tasks before the world -my family – wakes up. This method made me realize I can cover a three-hour job in less than an hour or two. 

Prepare your meal plan.

The meal plan should be consistent with having a smooth transition throughout your day. Teach your children to prepare their quick meals in a safe environment independently. From experience, this helps tremendously in creating more time to work according to office hours without unwanted distractions.

To successfully juggle your work time, home time and children stay calm, create an achievable schedule and breathe. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we will make it through this present situation. 

Stay safe and bright. You are a boss lady – at home and work. 

Chinedu Jennifer Nzom is a Copywriter from Nigeria. She lives with her family in Ottawa, Ontario. She writes copy that helps companies achieve their business goals and build relationships with their audience.

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