How to work from home with kids without going insane

April 12, 2021

Working from home with kids can be either hell or heaven.

Before the whole world turned upside down, and we all experienced life as we’ve never known it before, the school holidays used to fill me with dread. Even the five-day half terms would raise my stress levels! How could I possibly work with children at home? 

We’d book clubs way in advance (and in turn feel guilty they were being ushered somewhere they didn’t really want to go), and of course, we’d call upon friends and family to help manage (what felt like) a long period of juggling, during the holidays.

Every summer, truthfully from the nursery years, I would fear the six-week break. In a bid to be super organised I’d buy my annual summer holiday planner and diligently arrange the necessary childcare. It was colour coded and everything!

Work from home with kids

Little did I know that when my children were aged nine and six I’d be working, teaching and parenting! For months! But, thankfully that looks to ending for good now, let’s hope anyway!

I consider myself one of the luckier ones in all of this – my husband’s job was unaffected by the pandemic so fortunately, he was still going to work as normal. Leaving the house at 6am and coming home 12 hours later. Thankfully, at Seymour PR, while there were a few initial challenges to face, and changes to be made to the way we approached work, we’ve been busier than ever. 

So here I was, two primary aged schoolchildren to home-school, no clubs or family and friends to call upon and plenty of work to deliver. 

If someone had presented that scenario to me this time last year, I would’ve shuddered but we did it and, more importantly, it hasn’t been a disaster. 

I’d like to think I’ve taught my children some things during these lockdowns (I’m definitely taking credit for teaching my youngest the 10 times table!) and work-wise, Seymour PR, all things considered, has had a good year.

3 lifesaving tips for parents working from home

So when the opportunity came up to write about how to work from home with kids, I thought here’s something I can write pages on! So, if I could give any parent or carer three top tips for working from home with kids, this is what they are: 

Be prepared

Whether you’re teaching or just working with children in the house, plan it. During lockdown #1, we had a homemade timetable and we stuck to it. It began like a typical school day, even with a ‘school run’ at 8.20am. Except instead of school it was to the newsagents to pick up the daily papers for a PR media round up. Having our own timetable meant I planned things around my work schedule. If I had a zoom call I’d plan work/an activity for them that they could do independently more easily. I’d always schedule maths in when I could properly supervise and support! In this current lockdown, my daughters’ school has been amazing and there’s a timetable and structure to each day, which really helps. 

If you’re not teaching and the responsibility is simply to entertain, then get on Instagram for some brilliant ideas – I saw something on there which involved masking tape and an imaginative road track! My husband thought I was mad asking him to set it all up the night before – but it bought me three hours and two happy, entertained children!

Accept the bad days

If you get to a point where you’re all feeling stressed and unhappy then stop. Simply call it a day. Start again tomorrow. We’ve had a couple of occasions like that during this ride and when we’ve tried to fight it and keep going we’ve ended the day all feeling completely defeated. No one should feel like that, especially during a pandemic when everything is so hard anyway.

Endorphins and fresh air are your best friends

Never underestimate the value of fresh air and exercise. Even when it’s bitterly cold it can change the day completely. Plan a walk and make sure you do it. In my experience, the whole dynamic would change after a walk. There seemed to be more patience, more tolerance and more smiles and that’s so important. 

Exercise is also a must-have. It doesn’t have to be 45 minutes of burpees and lunges, it could be 20 minutes of stretching or 15 minutes yoga – whatever it is, it’ll release those magical endorphins and a happy (working) parent/carer means a happier home!

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