Many parents have long dreamed of working from home. You get to skip the stressful morning commute, work from the comfort of your couch, and spend more time with your kids. What could be better, right?
As it turns out, working from home with kids is, well, downright stressful.
The coronavirus pandemic, which closed schools statewide, has left parents struggling to cope with the increased demands of not only educating and entertaining their kids, but also being productive employees. And when you add financial worries and lack of proper technology to the mix, it starts to feel unsustainable at best.
So how can you balance your obligations of being there for your kids and for your employer? We asked our team at simplicityHR by ALTRES to share their tips for successfully working at home with kids. Here’s what they had to say.
Include your kids when you can
“Even when my mind is thinking work, I try to share the same space with my kids as much as possible. I tell my 3-year-old son who I am speaking to on the phone. If possible, I let him say hello so he feels like he is part of the conversation. Give them an idea of what they can do—iPad, coloring book, crafts, etc. When you make time to play, play hard.”
– Nina Tokunaga, HR Consultant
Create a schedule and implement a routine
“Working from home is no walk in the park. I have three boys in three different grades in three different schools with three different styles of learning. I quickly learned after the first day that kids need a routine. Now, they each have their own schedule which I put up around the house. The schedule changes daily, but the time frame stays the same.”
– Kara Kashiwabara, HR Specialist
Plan your meals
“Having lunch prepared and ready is important when you have a small child that still needs a nap during the day. Prepping ingredients the night before or even the morning helps for a quick lunch. For the times you can’t prep, I found that taking time in the morning to decide on lunch can be a big help in reducing stress. Keep it simple.”
– Aaron Knecht, 401(k) Specialist
Make a snack box
“I have a snack box that my kids fill up the night prior. At snack time, they only eat from the box—no exceptions. They are also required to have a minimum of two healthy snacks. If they decide to eat more in one sitting, then they do not get additional snacks until dinner. Though this only happens about several times a week, it’s as structured and disciplined as I can get with a 7-year-old. ”
– Cathy Cachola, Senior Benefits Specialist
Manage your expectations
“I often forget that I’m doing two roles at once and get frustrated for not being able to do both well. If I give too much to my kids, I feel as if I’m failing at my job. Or if I give too much attention to work, I’m neglecting the needs of my kids. At the end of the day, I realized it’s about managing your expectations. Things are not the way they used to be, so it’s okay if the house is a mess or the kids had more screen time than usual.”
– Kelsie Kalohi, Marketing Specialist
Spend your lunch break with your kids
“My lunch hour is spent with my kids. I take an extended lunch on Monday and skip lunch on Thursday or Friday, when I have support. I try to stress to my son that when it’s just me and him that I only have so much time before I have to get back to work.”
– Kristina Wong, Care Manager
Be kind to yourself
“Extend the same grace you are giving to your kids, friends, and coworkers to…yourself. I am blessed to be working and 100% thankful I can do my job, help others, and be there for my kids, but it is hard—and that’s okay. I am learning along with the rest of the world, so just know you are not alone.”
– Brandy Hernandez, Senior Benefits Specialist
Find creative ways to get active
“Use resources like Go Noodle, Cosmic Kids Yoga, Glenn Higgins Fitness, etc. to get the kids moving in this period where we can’t go outside. It’s much coveted screen-time for them, and they get in some exercise.”
– Kendall Kiyohara, Learning Specialist
“Kids do better when life is predictable, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is to remain flexible. Your kids are adjusting WITH you and this is all new for them too. It can be fun, if we allow every moment to be about bonding and learning.”
– Brittni Torres, Senior Web Support Specialist