Working From Home With Kids – Striking a Balance
July 15, 2017
Working from home sounds like a dream but without the proper balance days could fly by without you getting any work done, more so if you have kids. Different people find themselves working from home either by choice of due to the circumstances they found themselves in. Whatever the case may be, to be successful at it you need to strike a balance. Here are a few useful tips on working from home with some advice form a few Mama Mzazi Moms:
- Take it seriously: When you find yourself working from home with possibly no one to hold you accountable for certain tasks or deliverables it is very easy to “not take things seriously”. Most people find it easier to work long hours or give 110% to accomplish a task for someone else but lack the same drive for themselves. Therefore, step one TAKE YOUR WORK SERIOUSLY! Act as if you have a boss you need to answer to and if you have a deadline to meet, strive to reach it. As shared by Samoina, “Treat it like work, not a side hustle!”
- Set clear achievable goals: Based on the kind of work that you do, what do you want to accomplish in the next year or 5 years? Break down this goal further into small achievable tasks which you have to accomplish in a much shorter time frame.
- Make a to–do list: With the more immediate goals in mind note down the activities for the next week in advance and prioritise them. What do you need to accomplish? Every night go over the activities for the next day and set out clear time stamps for what you will be doing and when. If you don’t have a nanny or a house help also set some time aside for chores and try as much as possible to stick to it. This way you are able to make the most of each day and ensure productivity. “If you do things randomly, you end up not keeping track of time,” shares Ruth.
- Start each day on a Positive note: To get motivated and energized to tackle the activities for the day, it will help to start each day on a positive note. This may mean doing some morning exercise routines, going through some motivational quotes or even looking back at what you have accomplished so far. “I have a few of my favourite quotes saved on my phone and every morning I love to listen to one or two to get me going,” shares Muna.
- Time Management: planning and proper time management is very key. You need to first establish what time of the day you are most productive and what time is best dedicated to spending time with your kids. If you have school going children you can plan to work when they are in school and set some time aside in the afternoon to help them with their homework, play and hear about their day. If you have younger kids you can wake up early to get some work done before they are up or work after they go to bed. You will also need to set sometime aside to play with them. This helps you unwind while still creating a special bond with your children. Outdoor activities over the weekend also helps broaden their minds and create those precious family memories. Mwende a sleep consultant shares, “I need to work during the night to evaluate and come up with solutions for the next consultation.”
- Plan Activities for the Kids: As mentioned above, if you have school going children then it becomes easier to plan your day since you get to work while they are in school. However, if you have younger kids you will need to also make a list of activities and games they can play while you work. The trick is to give them different activities to do while you work; bearing in mind that kids get bored very quickly. But always stay close to ensure safety.
- Communication and Team Work: It is very important that you and your spouse communicate openly with each other on your schedules and work load. Divide tasks between yourselves and be open to taking on the others tasks once in a while depending on the others work load. This support will allow both of your to grow together in your personal and professional lives.
- If need be, Get Help: If you still struggle to balance working from home while looking after your kids and taking care of the house chores it is okay to ask for help. You could hire a day or live-in nanny or even consider day care. We are all wired differently and there is no shame in asking for help from even friends or relatives.
- Cut yourself some slack: Everyone has those days when you just can’t seem to get any work done. Your mind seems pre-occupied or you just feel tired. On these days it is okay to take an ‘Off-Day’. You can watch a movie, go to the salon or spend the day colouring or working on an art project with your kids. Find something fun to do which helps you unwind. “Always schedule a break mid work so that you don’t feel like you are drowning in your work or when it becomes too overwhelming,” shares Samoina.
- Take some time for yourself: To give your best to your family and your work you have to be at your best. Set some time aside to re-energise and focus on you. During this time you can leave the kids with your spouse or any trusted person who can watch them for a few hours. Remember “you cannot draw from an empty well!”
Working from home can be great fun with the right balance and most importantly you get to pick your kids up from school and spend more time with them. However, if this doesn’t work for you it is okay to find an alternative like a shared office space you could rent for a few hours.