Full disclosure, I don’t currently have kids at home AND since we created Haven Collective, I spend far less time working from home. BUT, we know that working from home with kids has changed since COVID. So, how do you thrive with kids schooling going virtual (full or part-time), many daycares cutting class sizes or closing altogether, while you still have work to do? So, I asked our coworkers for the productivity hacks they’ve found to be the most helpful handling everything being thrown their way, and, boy, did they deliver!
Let your kids know what to expect and when to expect it. Schedules are key here. Depending on the age of your child(ren), the amount of time you have to get into deep work may not be anywhere near what you were used to having, but it’s still there. So, plan for it.
“Depending on whether your kids or spouse are working from home as well, you might consider creating a space just for you, where you can close the door and do some deep work. I’m lucky enough that I have an office, away from home, at Haven Collective but during the shutdown, my office was the dining area table. As long as everybody knows that if you are sitting at the dining room table with your laptop open, it is work time, not playtime, life will be a bit smoother.”
– Yasmine Robles
For parents of school-aged children, our coworkers encouraged the use of signals for your kids to understand when you were and were not available. If you’re privileged enough to have a door to close, you can hang a sign when you’re on a video call. Try scheduling “interruptions” like a 30-minute window to review schoolwork. It’s much easier to have devoted time to get work done when your kids understand that they have a specific time where they get your undivided attention.
“I designed time for my daughter in the evenings. So every day from 4 pm – 9 pm I shut everything down and give her my undivided attention. Sometimes we color, watch movies, or literally just laugh/act silly together and chill until bedtime.” – Tonnisha English
“Set boundaries with your kids for times or signals that mean you are off-limits and they need to either help themselves or wait to ask you a question. I have a sign on my office door so when it is shut, they know I am in the middle of something that cannot be interrupted unless it’s an emergency.” – Carissa Richardson
Let It Go
None of us have superpowers. Pause. Take that in.
It’s impossible to work a full day, surrounded by kids who need parenting and keep the house spotless. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Try letting it go. If you make lists, keep making them, but erase at least three things off the list that can wait for another day or no one will even notice haven’t been done. Give yourself grace.
“I learned to prioritize in a new way. I’ve gotten to where I list out my big three. What three things/tasks/projects HAVE to be completed today for clients? What big three things need to be completed for kids? Once I have my big three, I list whatever else I’d like to get finished in order of priority. Those are for “extra” time or I can complete later.” – Heather Kirk
Alternatively, try making a new kind of list. Limit yourself to only three to-dos for the day and focus on those. You need to feel a sense of accomplishment and never-ending to-do lists prohibit us from ever feeling successful.
“Remain flexible and be ok with the Chaos… everyone is living within Chaos right now, so don’t be so hard on yourself.” – Danius Williams
“Forget about household chores. If the dishes are dirty just leave them dirty until after 5 pm. If they really bug you, build them into your schedule. For example, your morning break could be a stretch and unloading the dishwasher. Or, just leave them alone. Nothing bad will happen if you wait until the end of the day to do some cleaning.” – Yasmine Robles
What?!? Honestly, what’s ‘me time’? Time alone to feel human is critical for your mental and emotional health through all of this. Start by getting clear on how much time you need and what that time would look like. For some, it’s 20 minutes to sip coffee without disruption. For others, it’s an hour to meditate and journal in silence. Maybe you need 30 minutes for a run to catch up on a podcast you love.
Once you’re clear on what will help you be present for the rest of your family, it’s time to work it in. This might be challenging, but it’s so worth it! One suggestion: Wake up before the rest of the household, yes, even if that means you’re getting up at 5 AM. Waking up early is much easier if you make the effort to adjust your bedtime. A second suggestion: Adjust the kid’s bedtime (even if they just lay there and read for a while) so that the house calms down earlier at night. One last suggestion: talk to your spouse to schedule a time for each of you to enjoy alone time. Each of you corrals the kids for 30 minutes so you can both enjoy a run solo.
“I had to find an outlet to decompress, so I started running again.“ – Tonnisha English
“Find the thing that helps you feel more prepared for the day and make time for it so then you can focus on getting the kids set for the day.” – Danius Williams
Beyond schooling, take some time to teach your kids life skills that will support everyone right now. These are full-on survival in the wild kinds of things like building a fire from sticks and brush on the forest floor. More like, foraging in the kitchen for making your own breakfast or lunch. Teach them how to help one another with schoolwork if you have multiple children. And don’t forget about chores; think laundry, dishes, and making the bed.
“Make your kids earn their meals. I mean this in a funny, but ‘seriously-do-something-with-your-life-kid’ kind of way. Prior to the pandemic, I had been teaching my kids to cook and clean. Now the kids are in charge of their meals and general chores like keeping the bathroom sink clean, making all the beds, folding all the laundry (yes, even mine), and other chores. You’d be amazed at the awesome blueberry pancakes a 9-year-old can make.” – Yasmine Robles
“We have 4 kids at home (4th grade through HS senior year) so everyone knows when their turn is in the bathroom, what time they are expected to have breakfast eaten by (I do not make breakfast… I am all about learning through the seasons. This season demands everyone does their own breakfast).” – Danius Williams
“INVOLVE the kids. Have them help with laundry, picking up the house, finding out what you need from the store, and cleaning.” – Heather Kirk
Making sure everyone is holding up ok regularly will be critical to your ongoing success. That starts with being open to changing the schedule(s) if it doesn’t seem to be working anymore. It means taking the time to have a conversation about it regularly. And, it requires empathy and understanding as we all adjust the now normal.
“Every evening tries to do a short touch base… we do Highs & Lows at the dinner table every evening to just bring everyone back together and wrap up the day. If it was a cruddy learning day, we say it. Let them get their feelings out and then help them move on and get excited about the next day is better.” – Danius Williams
“I try to remember to connect with my kids. Even though we spend all day, every day, together it’s important to take a few to really check in. It helps empower them to tell you what they need, it helps you focus on their needs, and makes them feel important. We take walks three times a week with no phones for a half hour and chit chat.” – Heather Kirk
Use what you can from the list above to help you thrive today. We completely understand that everyone’s situation looks and operates differently based on the type of work you do, whether you have help and the age of your child(ren).
We can’t begin to speak for all families here, but we do encourage you to look past the imperfections. We’re all living in some sort of chaos right now, so it’s the perfect opportunity to start being less hard on yourself and less critical of others.
And if you need a space to get away from your chaos, even just one day each month, to focus on you or your business, check out one of our locations.