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Working At Home With Kids Over Winter Break

Working At Home With Kids Over Winter Break

It’s here – the start of the kid’s winter time off from school. And you probably have mixed feelings right now.  You love being around your children – one of the perks of working from home is being near your family. But you also love the office setting that you’re use to during the school year.  

Working while parenting is an issue a lot of working parents have to endure during time off of school. Of course, the experience of working at home with children varies depending on the ages of your kids. There is a big difference between working under the same roof as a second and sixth grader verses a workday with kids in high school. 

So, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering how you’re ever going to get work accomplished over the next 2 weeks, take my advice.

Here are some strategies that may help get you through working at home with kids over winter break:

Set expectations with your kids

Be straight and up front with your kids. Once they know what’s expected, the days go much more smoothly.  It’s all about creating structure.  Give them a schedule so they know what to expect – hour-by-hour.  Carve off specific work hours in your day.  Be clear of what you need from them and they just might give it to you!

Stick to the schedule

Be accountable to the schedule you create.  And be realistic.  You won’t be able to work for eight straight hours.  Break it up into manageable chunks of time. Take kid breaks. (If you were in an office you’d take a break or hang out in an office cubicle with a co-worker discussing last night’s episode of This Is Us). So, schedule short breaks through the day to play with your kids, between projects or meetings, guilt free.  It will reenergize you and also lets them know you haven’t forgotten about them.

Get Out With Your Kids

It’s important to get out of the house every once in a while during the break. With today’s connected devices, you can take work on the road with you. Take your laptop to the indoor play place or indoor pool.  But be realistic.  Some days it may work out just fine while other days, it may be a complete disaster. (Try having a phone conversation amongst the backdrop of screaming children). But it’s important to try new things. 

Send Your Kids Out Of The House

If you have an important deadline or conference call, arrange to take the kids to a relative’s house for a few hours while you finish your project. No relatives near by? Try to work something out with another stay at home parent to do a kid swap. Perhaps you can host their kids over the weekend or on a day where you’ve got less work responsibility. 

Work Early or Late

While not my favorite option, sometimes you have no choice but to work early or stay up late to get work accomplished.  It is nice if you can steal two hours of quiet time before the kids even wake up!  Or once your spouse gets home, send them all downstairs (after ordering pizza) so you’ll have another couple of hours of uninterrupted productivity.

Give Kids Chores

You can create a list of “things to do” (aka chores) for your kids to accomplish.  You’ll find that you can get a good hour of work completed while they complete the items on their list.  For instance, my soon to be 8 year old has a chore chart with simple tasks such as “get dressed, make bed, empty dishwasher, read quietly for 15 minutes”, etc.  It’s a win-win.  You get some work done while your child learns to be responsible. 

Use An Electronic Babysitter

There is no judgment here.  Don’t feel guilty about using electronics as babysitters. A TV show or a computer game can come in handy when you need some serious focus time to work. It’s all about balance.  Use it when you need to but don’t rely on it all day long.  Remember those “kid breaks” should include some work-free (and maybe electronic free) time with the kids.

You’ll find that with a little preparedness and scheduling, working at home with kids over the winter break is possible. And don’t forget that the winter break is called a “break” for a reason. Make time for your family and give your brain a little time off from your busy work life. Take advantage of the time you have with your family and maybe even carve off a little time for yourself.  Enjoy the season, enjoy your family and try to rest and relax before you wind up in the office (all too quickly) once again!

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