From the desk of our CEO: Ghazal Qureshi
The craziness of working from home while you have a house full of kids finally hit home with me
this week. The culminating moment came while I ran from room to room looking for a quiet space to be on a vblog. Home office was being used by the hubby for a conference call and the little ones were in various spaces in the house making quite a ruckus. Mind you my “little ones” are high school and college aged but they sure act as if being given this time to be home is bringing the world they know to an end.
Order had to be restored pretty quickly thereafter and rules had to be set in place so that Mom and Dad can continue to run their companies from home. This took me back to the time almost a decade ago. Working from home while juggling three little ones was not easy, however, we made it work then and built a successful company at the same time. The key was setting the ground rules or we call it Family Standard Operating Procedures.
Set a learning schedule
Do not treat this time as a vacation or holiday from school. Making sure to set a structure in place from the get go will allow the kids and you to not fall into the trap of unstructured time. It is very important to build in movement and mental breaks during the day which allows you to interact with the kids during this time and collectively participate in a fun short activity. Each family’s needs will be different so it is very important that depending on the age of your kids, you collaborate with them on coming up with an ideal schedule that works for your family. Then stick to it!
8:00 - 9:00 Breakfast and powwow on what needs to be accomplished today
9:00 - 10:00 Virtual learning - Math drills or any other subject
10 - 10: 15 Snack and Brain Break
10:15 - 11:30 Writing exercises or any other subject
11:30 - 12:00 Backyard games
12:00 - 1:30 Math Exercises or any other subject
1:30 - 2:00 Virtual movement class or a family dance off or something else...
2:00 - 3:00 Assigned homework completion
3:00 - 3:30 Virtual Book Club
And so on and so forth. You get the picture. This will be different for each family based on the ages and interests of the kids.
Work in shifts or take turns being the Parent on Duty
If you and your partner are both working from the home office, it can be a blessing and a curse as I found out during various situations that we had not planned for. True there are two of you to tackle the workload with the kids and be available in case of an emergency or snack call, however, my husband and I occasionally butted heads when the kids needed something and we were both crazy busy trying to get work done. What do you do in that case? Whose job is more important? The best thing to avoid this scenario is to have this conversation early on. Take alternating shifts to work or assign different days or different shifts during the day where one parent becomes the designated “Parent on Duty” Trust me - this will help you in the long run.
Dedicated Home Office Space
Working from the couch is great - But let’s be honest, the TV in the living room or the kids working alongside you on a kitchen table are a huge distraction. In order to get work done in the shortest amount of time possible, the best option is to carve out a dedicated space where you will be working. This allows our brain to get us in the working mode quickly, not to mention that it is also a visual reminder to the kids that you have an “office” and are working.
Align your schedules
Align your working schedule around the kids. That way when they are buried deep in math drills, you are knocking out the most important tasks of the day. Making sure that you set the guidelines early on on what it means when you are working. What are the rules for emergencies or when you are on a phone call? Or when hunger strikes?
Mom’s / Dad’s office hours
Create a sign that you can hang on your door that indicates your office hours or says that you are at work. It might sound silly, but it is a visual reminder to the kids that you are still working even though you are right in front of them - A distinction that is very important to keep. Kids will be confused that they do not have access to you while you are home so having a conversation around the “Office Hours” sign will help them visualize the fact that you are still working.
Sign up for Virtual Family dance offs or any other movement type activity
It is very normal to become unfocused and distracted while working from home. What you can certainly do to avoid this is to build into your schedule times for you and the kids to host some energy shedding activities. This helps with setting up the ground rules for work time vs. getting our energy out time and will be something that the kids and you will look forward to. Schedule this in one of the kids breaks during the day and go crazy with the Baby Shark dance off!
Plan your most important meetings in the morning hours
We are all aware that kids have limited attention spans and the best laid plans and schedules will fall apart on some days. By scheduling your most important meetings in the early hours gives you the flexibility to schedule the tasks that you will need to complete on your own around any emergencies or family needs that might arise unexpectedly
Two things I cannot stress enough
These are unprecedented times. We do not have a playbook to refer to. Keep in mind that the best laid plans will need adjustments and tweaking as we progress. The key is to start planning now and allow yourself to be flexible and make adjustments with time.
Anxiety is high for both adults and kids at this time. By sticking to routines provides kids a sense of security and calms the anxiety. Whatever the routine that works for your family, make a dedicated effort to stick to it.