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6 Tips to working from home with kids

For those remote working parents currently in this boat, these simple 6 tips can help you stay afloat.

After the President’s announcement of the 21-day lockdown in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, most employees are forced to work from home. For many of us, this is a challenge, especially if you have kids!

Schools and day-care centres across the country have closed, and social distancing means help from domestic workers, au pairs, grandparents or other relatives often isn’t an option.

Working productively from home requires a strict discipline but when you have babies and toddlers to think about, balancing the demands of family life with your work can seem impossible. For those remote working parents currently in this boat, these simple 6 tips can help you stay afloat.

1. Create a workspace

Setup a dedicated workspace for you and your child to work or create a small play pen area for your babies. Sometimes, this can be a challenge especially if you’re a single parent or have very young kids or if you live in a tiny apartment. All you need is a desk and chair or even a space on your dining table or in a room where you can set up and the baby can play. This will create a boundary for your kids to understand that you both have your own space.

2. Create a schedule for you and your kids

For many of us being at home puts you in a comfort mode. Try and stick to your regular schedule and routine as much as possible. Make sure your kids stick to their daily routine by ensuring they wake up the same time they do for school or nursery, bath times, mealtimes and especially bedtime. Create a timetable to plan out your week and day. Create a schedule for your kids, engage them in the process by making it a fun process or game. This way they will see you taking interest in them and makes them find a schedule to be something exciting. If you have important virtual meetings, inform your kids that this is when they can’t disturb you. Try and give them activities that will keep them busy for the duration of your meeting. When your kids are busy with activities try and utilize this time to do your most important work. Parents who have babies find this process rather difficult and may want to schedule their timing around their baby’s nap time. Perhaps even a carrier could work by putting them on your chest /back while doing work or chores at home.

3. Keep your kids busy

Working and entertaining your kids can seem overwhelming. By setting schedules to follow you can line up various activities to keep your kids busy. There are various online websites that have educational teaching videos, e-learning programmes, educational games, story readings or you can get some ideas from the internet on activities. Simple activities like drawing, colouring and painting work well. Some parents allow their kids to watch TV or child appropriate movies.

4. Sharing the Time

For those who have spouses or older kids that are in the same household, share the responsibilities, take turns to give each some alone time for completing work while the other looks after the kids or chores. If your spouse has important meetings, take your break to see to the kids or household chores and vice versa. Get your older kids to do household chores so that you can complete your work. If you have both young and older kids, get the older ones to baby sit and reward them for their help and support. Remember that both you and your spouse will find this time difficult to try and multitask by being at home. Sharing the time will help give each other some relief and support from the mental and physical load and exhaustion.

5. Keep your colleagues informed

While working from home, it’s important to communicate with your colleagues and keep them informed about your progress as well as your current situation. They need to understand that you have multiple roles to play by working from home and that you can’t just spend all your time on work. Inform your colleagues there may be times when you won’t be able to take their call or respond to their emails quickly like you normally do when you’re in the office. Try not to be afraid to over-communicate on this front. The more people are aware of your situation, the more likely they will try to fit around your schedule and do what they can to help. Anyone who’s had a child will understand and respect this. An idea is to let them know when you’re most likely to be available so that they can try to schedule conference calls or video chats for times when your children are napping or busy doing activities. If multiple colleagues are in the same situation, take turns to set meetings with each other’s’ schedules.

6. Family time matters

While having a great schedule and sharing responsibilities is essential to stay productive during the lockdown, we also need to acknowledge that things don’t always go according to plan. “Mummy don’t do your work; Daddy don’t do your work” These are common phrases a lot of us hear constantly. Don’t neglect your kids to keep up with work. At the end of the day we are all experiencing personal challenges from this outbreak and mental wellness is very important. Get your kids to help with chores like cooking and cleaning which can involve the whole family. Make mealtime a bonding time to check in on how they are and how their activities are going. Spend at least an hour of your day to do some activities / teaching lessons with them. You can also try some fitness activities with your kids like dancing and yoga to keep yourself fit as well as keep the kids entertained.

I wish you everything of the best during this lockdown and may we recover and prosper after this. Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika.

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