The state of our world and how everyone is working has completely turned upside down in just the last week. People who have never worked from home suddenly have found themselves needing to create a workspace. Couples who live together are now realizing what it means to truly be together 24/7 and have to find two designated workspaces. Families are discovering what it means to homeschool, work from home and be constantly together. This is new terrain for the majority of us, but in our house, this has been our norm for a long time. I talked about how my biggest work from home tips during this time on the podcast this week, but wanted to go a bit deeper.
I first started working from home 15 years ago when my corporate office was undergoing a renovation and it was easier for me to work from home since I was only in the office part-time anyway due to travel. I then relocated to Chicago where I exclusively worked from home and in both instances I had a designated home office. During this time I didn’t have a husband or kids, therefore there weren’t any distractions. Fast forward to 5 years ago when my husband started working from home with me and I needed to shift how I worked. Shortly thereafter we had our first child and he was at home with us while we worked. In the past 5 years, we’ve continued to work from home together, added another child to the mix and at one point also had a part-time nanny with us. Hello full house!
Almost two years ago, I was laid off from my corporate job and after not seeing a career in my field with a company I was head over heels for, decided that I wanted to explore what I could do for myself. My husband and I had been working in the same industry, therefore we attended the same conferences. We’d take our nanny and kids which could be hectic and expensive. For these reasons, we discussed the possibility of me launching my own business that would allow me to be a working stay-at-home mom…and then I made it happen. It’s been two years since we all are together at home and I juggle being a business owner and being a mom.
Our household is far from perfect when it comes to raising kids and working from home at the same time, but we have learned some lessons over the years which I think can help a lot of you who are suddenly in our same situation. One thing I do love that will come out of this is that everyone will now truly know what it means to work from home with their children and I hope no one ever apologizes when their child interrupts at some point. Embrace it…we’re working parents!
Keeping The Lines Of Communication Open
Communication is literally the key to everything, but especially in working from home with your spouse. We discuss our calendars and when we have calls (or podcast interviews!) to try our hardest not to overlap our schedules. Sure, it happens sometimes and can’t be avoided, but it’s a great relief when you know that there’s someone who can try to shush the kids when they suddenly think they are Star Wars characters with light sabers! In addition to communicating about your schedules, talk about what is working for you and what isn’t. This is really Relationship 101 advice, but when you are together 24/7, talking to each other openly is going to make or break it. Be sure to talk to your kids as well. This is a worrisome and confusing time and kids understand and know a lot more than you think.
Designated Workspace For You & Your Kids
When you work from home, you need to make sure you aren’t working from your bed or your couch. You simply can’t be productive in these spaces. If you aren’t able to utilize a separate room or a desk, use the kitchen counter or dining room table. Be somewhere that forces you to sit down and truly work, just as you would at an office. If you’re working with kids who need to homeschool, then designate an area for them to work at as well. Even better, work together at the same time!
Creating & Maintaining Office (School) Hours
I will be the first to admit that I’m not good at keeping office hours. My excuse though is that now I am a mom in addition to being a business owner, so my hours are odd, early and late. I need to be able to work whenever I can. Before kids, I also had a problem shutting things down at night, BUT I would grocery shop in the middle of the day, get laundry done, so it all balanced out. If you are now like me, trying to work, homeschool, parent, etc, then I suggest you try to find some dedicated time to yourself, whether it’s for work or to simply veg. That might mean getting up an hour earlier, but it very well could be worth it. It has been for me!
Take A Break To Move Your Body
It is so important that you get up to move around. Regardless of whether you are working solo or have a house full of people, take a break every hour and move around or stretch. I love my FitBit which lets me know if I haven’t gotten so many active steps in an hour because it reminds me to get moving! Set an alarm on your phone if you have to, but be sure to get movement in your day. Kids need movement as well which is why they have recess and P.E. in school. Move around with them as well. We’ve discovered Cosmic Kids on YouTube and have all been doing yoga. It’s even a workout for me! We take a walk around the block or ride bikes when it hasn’t been raining.
Eating 3 Meals A Day
Your kids get a designated lunch time at school in which they stop their studies to move to a new area and eat their lunch. Why shouldn’t your lunch time be the same? We eat all 3 meals a day in the kitchen at the table and most of the time entirely as a family. Take turns on who decides what is going to be served and alternate who will cook. We keep lunch simple with sandwiches and leftovers and for dinner, I try to mix it up between various cuisines. I highly recommend separating meal time from work time because it pauses your work day and that’s important to do.
Embracing The Extra Family Time
This is truly a time in history that hopefully will never happen again, so be sure to treasure this extra time you have as a family. As stressful as it is, you are all together under one roof. Show your kids what you do at your job and allow them to teach you what they are learning in school. Give them lessons on how to cook, bake or do the laundry. Make this a time they remember forever about how they were “stuck” in their homes and made the most incredible memories.