Although it may not feel like it for some of us, spring is near and for parents of school-aged children that also means Spring Break!
It’s a great time for family time but when it comes down to it, you may still need to work. And now, working remotely gets a little more complicated with your duties doubled: you still need to be effective at your job and successfully keep the kids entertained, fed, an not miss out on too many of their precious moments.
Lots of remote work blogs talk about all of the benefits and even glamour of remote work and I admit – it is great. But it isn’t always glamorous. As a mom, some of the less blog-worthy places I’ve worked from have been:
The bowling alley
Chuck E Cheese or other similar establishments
Doctor office waiting rooms
Poolside @ our hotel during vacation (OK that doesn’t sound so bad…)
These were all times during which I had to get my job done and make sure my kids were taken care of at the same time. The things that are most important during these times are:
- Fun and Interaction
- Healthy Meals
I have three kids. Any day has the potential to be hectic but a day when I have to work and focus on the needs of children can spiral out of control without a plan. And the plan should be to always have fun, because what’s the point of working from home if we don’t enjoy it? So lets get down to some of the things work-at-home parents can do to create a fun and productive environment for themselves and their children on remote work days.
I mentioned working at the pool with my kids earlier, and it’s a fun place to take them and often scenic for you, but knowing that your attention will be divided between them and your work, safety should be kept in mind. If the pool is a hangout of choice, try to pick one that has a lifeguard that will keep a constant eye out and ensure pool rules are adhered to.
No matter where you take your kids, ensure that you set expectations for their behavior while in public. Remind them that day trips are a privilege and that they’ll be rewarded with more based on their good conduct while they’re out.
Even if they aren’t angelic at all times, kids need to get outside and exercise every day, so while you’re working from home with them, plan for regular trips to the park or sit in the backyard while they get out and blow off some steam as long as weather permits. If you have to discipline your children, not allowing them to go outside can make them so stir-crazy that it’ll feel like a punishment for you!
Being from Florida, I prefer to hang out in the park during early hours of the day or late afternoon when the sun is less intense. Sunblock is a habit and closed toe sneakers, never flip flops or sandals, are a must for kids that are going out to play.
If I bring my laptop to the park or other play place, I try not to get so engrossed in my work that I forgot to watch them. If you can afford it, having a domestic helper or a nanny tag along to be a second set of eyes and a helping hand is a great idea. In my travels, seeing how working woman in other countries consider having a trustworthy domestic helper as a must really opened my eyes. As western women, we have too much on our plates. Working parents, in general, can use additional support to relieve some of the pressure of their relentless responsibilities. Relieving pressure is a beginning to creating a better environment for parents and children alike, not only if you’re trying to work from home, but in general.
Fun and Interaction
I can’t say this enough- What’s the point of working from home if it’s not fun? Even when you’re working, you can still having fun with your kids by taking a 15-20 minute breaks every couple of hours to do anything from letting them show you how to use their Xbox controllers, reading a quick story, helping them with their latest Lego creation–the possibilities are endless.
While you’re working your kids are going to interrupt you. In general, they will start understanding when you’re working and try to let you focus, especially as they get older. But there will be times they need to talk to you right away and they should know you’re always approachable. You may not be able to stop what you’re doing right then and there, but you can always take a moment to listen, give them a quick hug, or you can provide a spot in your home office for them to come and sit to just be with you.
After all, they are the reason you get up and do what you do each day. Don’t lose sight of that.
Soup and Salad Buffet Lunch Trips – Kids love buffets because they get the freedom to walk around, pick their own dishes, get creative with their plates, and eat as much as they like. It’ll be fun listening to them tell you what their favorite foods at the buffet are, and it’s relaxing to get out of the house for a bit, especially knowing that all the mealtime mess will stay at the restaurant. Some places to go for a soup and salad lunch is Sweet Tomatoes or Souper Salad. Those are regional restaurants popular in the South and West, and if you can’t find of those restaurants near you, there’s usually an Olive Garden close by where you can do unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks during lunch hours.
If you’ll cook at home, pre-prepped meals are that can be popped into the oven like vegetable lasagna are a cinch, or you take shortcuts on making grilled chicken salad by cooking and freezing it over the weekend, then defrosting and adding it to pre-washed and cut lettuce in a bag at meal time. You can make lunch prep fun by letting your smaller children help set the table, adding simple ingredients, etc. Teach and motivate older children by offering an allowance to help with clean up or meal prep that they can get involved in.
Snack-wise, some of the easy things to stock up on are healthy breads, peanut butter, baby carrots, celery, sliced peppers, raw green beans, rice cakes, popcorn and bananas.
Working from home or remotely is a life changing, life enhancing experience. Many people cite family as the reason they want more flexibility in where and when they work in the first place. If you’re one of the lucky ones that’s managed to break free from the office, don’t forget to make the time you’ve gotten back with them count.