There’s no getting away from the news at the moment – the coronavirus pandemic is making headlines everywhere, and more and more countries are taking measures to slow the spread of this flu-like disease.
At time of writing, the UK government has not closed schools. However, Boris Johnson has advised that anybody who can work from home should do so, and he has also recommended against public gatherings in places such as pubs and theatres. Given the measures already in place, it seems likely that the schools may close, in which case children will be joining their parents at home for the foreseeable future.
Here at Get Ahead VA, we are very fortunate to have a team of experienced home-workers, many of whom also have children, and so they have a wealth of advice to share about juggling work and family under the same roof. So if you’re concerned about how you’ll handle the next few weeks, don’t worry. Here are our top tips about working from home with your kids.
Have a daily schedule
Your number one tool against the potential chaos of working from home and taking care of the kids is to have a daily schedule. This should include time for work and study, of course, but also free time and fresh air. Your schedule will vary depending on the age of your kids – older children will be able to study on their own while you work, while younger children will need more supervision – but just breaking up the day into manageable chunks (like a school timetable) should help your kids to stay focused.
Once you’ve decided on a schedule, stick it up somewhere in your home (preferably near a clock) so that everybody in your household can see it. If you need some inspiration to get you started, check out this fantastic post from Jessica McHale Photography.
Work in chunks
If you’re not used to this style of working, it can take some time to adapt, so be realistic about how much you will be able to get done. Each evening, sit down and prioritise one or two important jobs for the next day. Then try working little and often throughout the day. “I always find doing it in chunks works better,” says Regional Director Jo, “so give [your kids] some dedicated time, then ask them to give you time to work.” Having a clear start and end point to each chunk of work will help your kids to understand when they should leave you alone, and should also help you to focus.
Keep them entertained
One of our virtual assistants, Charlotte, says, “I’ve learned that bored children will pester you; occupied ones won’t.” So for those times when you can’t entertain the kids yourself, make sure you give them plenty to do. Regional Director Marie says, “Make sure you have enough log-ins for Netflix/iPads!”, while Jo suggests watching a film with your children while you work – they may be able to stay quieter for longer if you are in the room with them.
Charlotte recommends getting the children involved in planning what they will do: “During the summer holidays, we used our blackboard every evening to plan activities, like origami. The children would engage with the decision (and not feel dictated to) by being the ones to write ‘origami’ on the blackboard and illustrate it.”
Fit your work around your kids
For most of our team members, the best thing about working from home is being able to fit their work around their kids. When you do this, your work doesn’t have to suffer – it just has to adapt to your family’s rhythm.
Jo says, “If they are little, use their sleep time in the afternoon to plan all your calls in,” while Marie says, “See if you can schedule calls for the evenings, or catch up on things when they’re in bed.” Other members of our team prefer to get up early and work in the morning, to free up the afternoons to spend with the children.
Give yourself a break
You may feel as though, in the midst of all this upheaval, you still have to keep every plate spinning – you must get all your work done, and teach the kids, and get some exercise, and cook healthy meals, and disinfect the entire house… But it’s OK not to do all this.
Remember, this is an extremely unusual situation and everybody in the world is dealing with it, so it’s perfectly understandable if you can’t keep on top of everything you usually would. After all, aside from the practical disruption, there’s also a lot of mental upheaval associated with all this uncertainty. So give yourself a break, and allow yourself not to do everything – as long as you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy, everything else can wait until later.
Do you need extra support for your business during this uncertain time? Our team of professional virtual assistants can cover all sorts of services, from telephone answering to admin to PR, so you don’t have to handle the disruption alone. To find out more about how we can help, just give Get Ahead VA a call on 01483 332220 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.