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Updated: July 12th, 2020
As a business owner and a parent, transitioning to working from home with kids during the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing short of an adventure. While having to juggle balls in the air might be nothing new to you, the quarantine has no doubt kicked things into high gear. It’s a whole new world for everyone, as parents become teachers and kids become coworkers. But working from home with kids doesn’t have to be a circus.
Getting a handle on how to homeschool your kids while doing your job from home will likely pay off. As we’re learning, when it comes time to turn the economy back on, it won’t be like a light switch. Businesses and schools alike expect to ease back into a new normal, which means some of the changes you’re making now may linger. Here are some ideas to help you manage to work from home with children.
Even though you and your kids might not be going out into public for work and school, that doesn’t mean you can’t look the part. Try dressing for the day anyway because it can help put you in the mindset that there is a task at hand despite all of the distractions that come with being at home.
You don’t have to dress to the nines to work from home with children, but you might find it helps to start each day with a fresh outfit. As for your kids, you might want to see what works. As long as they are doing their schoolwork, don’t fix what’s not broken — even if it means they stay in their pajamas.
While you’re at it, your home has become a makeshift school and business. Consider designating specific spaces where each person can do their work, such as the kitchen table. Even if working from home with the kids means everyone needs to move around a bit, earmark an area where you go once the workday or school day begins. This can make for a more organized day. It can also help the kids make the shift in their mindset that it’s time to focus.
Your new homeschooling and work environment during COVID-19 is sure to experience some chaos. One way to limit the disruption is to establish a routine for both you and your kids. A new routine means that you might have to tweak your schedule during the day to fulfill your new role as a homeschooler.
You’ll probably need to make some sacrifices as you consider how to homeschool your kids. For instance, before COVID-19, you might have jumped into your business first thing in the morning. Now that you’re working from home with kids and homeschooling, you might need to change things up and handle school first.
If you don’t set the pace of the day with your kids first, you might find yourself distracted while trying to accomplish some projects for your business. Meanwhile, your kids are probably duking it out over some problems. One thing you don’t want to do when working from home with children; however, ignores your hours of peak creativity for your business.
So it’s a matter of striking a balance. Break up the day so that both of your babies — your children and your business — are getting the best from you. You might stay flexible about which hours you devote to work, based on the demands of the hour. Be sure to mark the end of both the school day and the workday with some activity so that it’s clear to everyone when it’s time to wind down.
As important as it is for you to be there for your children during homeschooling, it’s also critical that you create some boundaries for yourself and your business. This way, your work life and home life aren’t entirely intertwined. Otherwise, you might not ever get anything done as you try to work from home with children.
The above sign is a fun (and very real) option when working from home with kids. While you’re wearing the hats of a parent, small business owner, and teacher, it’s easy for the lines to get blurred. In some cases, you might need to go to extremes to make a point that certain times of the day are off-limits. You might create a corridor separating yourself from the rest of the house or, as the illustration suggests, make a sign.
With everyone in the home now vying for the Wi-Fi, it might, at times, feel like it’s you against them. Instead of fighting it, you could decide to go with the flow. One way to do this is to include your kids on your next Zoom meeting. You could make this a standing rule that extends to your employees so that kids are always welcome on the calls. Plus, this can be a great way to boost employee morale.
While there might be some new distractions when working from home with kids, there’s always the mute button on calls to take care of business. It will make your kids feel more involved with your day, and it could also teach them a thing or two about business in the interim. And, this is a lesson they probably can’t get in any classroom.
Another pro tip for working from home with children is incorporating timers into your workday. Timers can apply to how you homeschool your kids, too. If your kids know they’ve got a particular window of time to focus on the task at hand – 10-15 minutes – it could give them the incentive to get it done. Challenge them by reminding them how much they accomplished yesterday in that amount of time and see if they can get even more work done today.
You might also intertwine the timer with your child’s independent work time. This way, you know you have a certain amount of time in which they are likely to remain busy, and you can focus on your business.
Another thing to remember throughout this business crisis is that eventually, life will return to a new normal. In the interim, while you are learning how to homeschool your kids and run your business, stay nimble. Make sure not to put too much pressure on yourself or anybody else.
Jessica Holcomb is the Content Marketing Manager at Funding Circle, specializing in small business marketing and social media. She has a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Prior to Funding Circle, Jessica was a Marketing Manager at a successful social games company and a freelancer for many small businesses in the Bay Area. Her work can be seen in top retail, gaming, and financial small business resource sites.