The first time I started working from home, the biggest challenge was self-discipline. I was so used to going to the office for work and I have made home a place of extreme R&R. But since deciding to work from home, I realized that I needed a mindset makeover. I began to treat the little desk in the corner of our living room as an office space. I got out of my PJs before sitting down there and I allocated a certain time during which I was not to be distracted by domestic affairs.
I have found that the best time to work was when my children were at school, in which case I had approximately 4 hours of uninterrupted work time, followed by another one or two after the kids were asleep if necessary.
However, summer break is here. And another challenge has presented itself. While the usual arrangements don’t work, life goes on. We just needed to deal with it. Of course, the most ideal thing would be to enroll them in some sort of Summer Program, but when that isn’t feasible, here are some points that we have tried that helped:
1. Plan your work around the children’s schedules.
It’s not the best example of “my house, my rules” mentality, but really, it’s the only way to get anything done around here. I plan my work close to their bedtimes, when they’ve been fed and bathed, and when The Mister is able to take over. The result of that, however, is a little lack of sleep. (I keep hoping for them to take a nap so I can nap with them but they are on summer break, they said.) Sometimes they ask for Mama before they go to sleep, but here is where we teach them about showing understanding. Which brings me to my second point:
2. Set expectations.
Let them know what they can expect and when they can expect it. If I tell them that I will be with them until 7pm or until Daddy is ready to take put them to bed, then that’s what’s going to happen. The same goes for the plans that I make for them. I let them in on what they can expect that day. For example: “Today, we’re going to go do some coloring after breakfast. Then we’re going to have lunch. After that we can go swimming. Then after dinner, you can curl up with a movie you like.” Remember that everything that comes out of your mouth is a promise that they expect to be delivered.
3. Get outside.
Seriously, nothing brings out “I’m bored” cries faster than being cooped up indoors. Also, nothing wears them out faster than going outdoors. If the weather permits, go swimming, go for a walk, go to the driving range and hit some golf balls, have a picnic… whatever it is to get them moving. The more they move, the faster they will get to bed, and the faster you can get to work.
4. Arrange a day of their choice.
Children screaming “I am bored” can suck the energy right out of you. Still on the setting expectations mode, I have activities all lined up for them, with a minimum of one day a week where they get to go anywhere they like or go do the fun things they don’t get to do when school year starts again. Some places on our list: KidZania, playdate with their school friends in any of the following kids hang out spot: Lollipop Playland, Chipmunk, The Jungle at Flavor Bliss, an Artventure, Museum Hopping, Picnic at Ecopark, Swim & BBQ day, Dinner & Movie Night (Note: a day out with the children will take a whole day, so prepare to submit any work – when applicable – prior to going on your day out.)
5. Focus on them.
Work is harder with them around. But let’s think of it as a great opportunity to show our children that while work is important, they are more important to us. I have never understood the rationale behind the whole one and a half month break in between school years anyway (I mean, if they’re providing a picture of what work life is like, they are completely off), but I’ve made up my mind to believe that this was more about giving the children a chance to be children. So, that’s what we should be doing then. Focus on showing them a good time. Focus on letting them discover their passion and strength while teaching them to relax. Focus on letting them be children.
While they test our limits and challenge our patience and while we can’t wait for school to resume and for things to go back to normal, I’d like to think that all the efforts that we’re making, the hurdles we jump over, are completely worth it.