Working From Home With Kids: The Set-Up
Published on: July 29, 2019
Mom of three Ema shares her secrets on how to work from home successfully while managing family, home and everything else in between!
By Ema Naito-Bhakdi
As parents of young children, the option of working from home is an attractive one. Whether you are telecommuting (possibly to another country), studying for a degree, writing a novel, or just getting through the bureaucracy of daily life, the idea of working from home dazzles us with the promise of flexibility over time and the opportunity to combine work with child-rearing.
But with young ones to take care of, it’s not quite so simple. We all know how difficult it is to get a solid five minutes of peace for any reason. Kids also make a lot of noise! If you find constant interruptions and noise exhausting, then even if they’re not directly begging you to help them fix a Lego structure, play with them, help them go to the bathroom, etc., you aren’t going to get much thinking work done.
So is working from home impossible? Not necessarily. There are some things you can do to make it (somewhat) more manageable.
Establish a routine
Routines are your best friend. They help you to consistently and quickly slip into work mode and also signal to others including your little one that it’s your work time. Identify possible chunks of time you can use, like the hours your child is in school or maybe when your spouse is home. I don’t recommend using your child’s naptime especially in the early months (you need to respect your body’s need to rest and recover too), but if you must, it’s another possibility.
Create a designated workspace
A designated workspace will help signal to others that you ‘are working now’, and will also help you turn on work mode. If you don’t have a whole room to yourself (or at least a corner of a room—although a door to close is ideal), then consider popping into a nearby co-working space or cafe. Maybe there’s one near your child’s school so you can integrate it with the school drop-off/pick-up routine.
Explain to the kids about your work
Get your child on board. Explain to them what it is that you do, what it looks like when you’re working (so they can tell), why work is important to you and the family, and what they, the child, can do to help.
For some parents, the idea of handing over their little one to hired help is not palatable. In many countries, it’s not even an option due to high childcare costs. Mercifully, it IS an option for many in Thailand, so take advantage of any help you can. (And don’t forget your spouse in all this.)
Establish no-work times
Set yourself time boundaries. Working from home makes it easier to drag work into family time, but don’t. You will feel better for it.
Give your kids attention when you’re not ‘working’
Don’t forget to spend some full-attention quality time with your child outside of ‘work’ hours. Even during your work hours, sometimes pausing and giving the kids your full attention can help make them more likely to give you peace and space to work afterward.
Make use of ‘special’ play
Try having ‘special’ toys or activities (even, yes, screen time) that are only allowed when you are working. Hopefully, the specialness of that toy or activity will keep them occupied a little bit longer than usual…
Review your expectations and workload
The reality is that if you expend significant time and energy on childcare, then you will have limited resources for other things, including self-care, sleep, household chores, spousal care, and work.
We’re often taught that we should be able to do it all, but that’s simply not true. If you’re feeling exasperated or unworthy or strained, then reassess. Is it realistic to expect that you will have a few hours of regular, uninterrupted work time? What is the big picture goal that you’re trying to achieve? What options do you have and what’s most important to you? Can you cut down on the workload? Can you find more help? Can you channel your professional energies into a different, less time-demanding direction until your little ones are bigger and require less physical care from you?
If your expectations are way beyond what is realistically possible, then it can save you a lot of frustration and anger if you accept the things that you cannot control.
Be honest with yourself and give yourself the space to adjust. We’re in it for the long term, after all.
Photo courtesy of pxhere.
About the Author
Ema is a work-from-home freelance English editor (theclarityeditor.com), who used to be in international development and has been on the BAMBI News team since 2014. Raising three cross-cultural kids and managing to get some work done thanks to school and a wunder-nanny, she sings classically and blogs at crossculturalfamily.com (日本語ブログ: emanate28jpn.blogspot.com).
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