Getting work done with a full house is possible. Productivity doesn’t need to come to a halt when the kids are home on break.
Breaks happen. School breaks, that is. While these pose a dilemma to all working parents, they create a special issue for parents who work from home. Holidays and summer vacations are often times when teleworkers must choose between getting work done or falling behind to keep their kids happy. Whether you’re a solopreneur, a freelancer or a company employee, productivity doesn’t have to come to a grinding halt when the kids are home.
The reality is that no matter what grade level your children are at, they often don’t “get it” that when they are on break, you are not. The world–and schedules–revolve around them. Reminding them you still have to work seems to stick in their heads only until they’re bored, hungry, tired, need a ride, or want attention. But before chucking up your job, try some of tips to help make these breaks win-win times for your whole family.
Give kids plenty to do
Help prevent boredom by creating a list of enjoyable activities to occupy them during your actual work time. Whether it’s a three-day Thanksgiving break or a three-month summer vacation, planning ahead will save you headache of needing to pull tricks out of your hat every time they complain they’re bored.
Give yourself plenty of breaks
Work for shorter periods of time by taking frequent breaks yourself. These intermissions will be crucial to helping your kids feel connected with you throughout your working day. Walk through the house, poke your head into their rooms to say “hi”, and you’ll find the kids knocking on your door much less. Knowing you’ll be checking on them will keep them from needing to check on you every five minute.
Chose your words with care
Reward children who respect your work time. Whether they find something to do on their own, or they show the ability to keep the noise level down, gratefully acknowledge these uninterrupted blocks of work time. Children are always delighted to learn they have helped you accomplish what you need to do.
On the other hand, do not make needier children believe they’re are a nuisance to you. Barking at your kids to be quiet or to leave you alone will create resentment, which leads to acting out behavior that will force you away from your work to manage disruptive behavior.
See the opportunity
View the school break as an opportune time to explore a new hobby or other activity you can do with your kids. Remember that kids are kids and they are on vacation. Select an activity that all of you can enjoy together, creating pleasant memories for them rather than disappointment because you spent their entire break working.
Creatively feed their appetite
Put together a holiday break lunch schedule they can see. Otherwise, from their internal clockwork, they’ll be knocking on your door complaining that they’re hungry. Make or order mini pizzas, set up a salad bar, have them experiment with bento, or allow them play restaurant. Make their break lunchtimes special. (Need some ideas? Pinterest offers tons of suggestions for fun kids’ meals.)
Let sleeping babes sleep
Take full advantage of their sleep time for getting work done that requires extra concentration. If you’re a morning person perhaps you could let your kids to stay up later than usual, giving you extra quiet time the following morning while they sleep in. If you work best without any noise, you’ll find this time to be invaluable.
Pull in all the forces
Enlist the help of older siblings, family, or neighbors. School breaks are busy times for everyone, so perhaps you could barter by treating them to a movie in exchange for supervising your kids. This is perfect during times when you need absolute quiet for phone calls or other activities you can’t do even if the kids are sleeping because it’s just too early.
Remove yourself from the scene
If your kids are old enough to be left alone, or if your spouse is home, try getting work done somewhere else. This not only guarantees quiet time for you, but it allows some time when the kids can let loose without worrying if they are disturbing you. No office? No problem. Check out a co-working space for a few hours, or, if you don’t have one nearby, visit the library.
Gather ‘round the table
Maintain the family’s regularly scheduled dinnertime when everyone eats together. This wraps up each day in a pleasant, familiar fashion. This is also the perfect time to praise your children for being respectful of your work time, and to talk about any fun activities coming up the next day.
Relax and enjoy the break
Try your best not to work on an actual holiday itself. Since you’ve still been able to accomplish so much during the break, allow yourself to relax, especially if it’s a holiday. Enjoy this time with family and friends. And again, thank your children for helping you do this through their cooperation and respect.
School break or not, when it comes to getting work done the show must go on. But it doesn’t have to become a source of stress for you and resentment for your kids. Establishing a game plan will make all the difference in your productivity, while providing your kids an enjoyable, memorable holiday break.
Your turn: What is the most clever thing you’ve done to get work done while your kids where home on break?
Are you interested in finding a job that allows you to work at home during your children’s breaks? Learn how to find telecommuting jobs with Telework Recruiting!