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How to master working from home with children

We are all having to adapt quickly to the new working from home environment, and for a lot of people, that means coexisting with children while schools are closed. 

Working from home, particulary with young children requesting your attention, is far from easy.

Robert Walters asked a number of fellow parents what initiatives they have put in place to manage this exceptional situation as efficiently as possible.

Here are their 10 top tips:

1. Create your own work space

Just like in the office, it is important to have your own space where you can work. If you live in a larger house, turn one of the rooms into a temporary office. If you live in a smaller home or apartment, you can create your own space in a living room, dining room or even in a bedroom as a temporary work space where you can work without being disturbed. 

2. Be an early bird

The big advantage of working from home is that you don’t waste time commuting. This allows you to benefit from some extra quiet time in the morning: no traffic jams, no hectic moments to get the children ready for school and drive to work. Use this time to make a quick start. It will enable you to finish a little earlier in the evening, leaving more time for some time with the kids.

3. Plan some variety for the children

In order to be able to work without being constantly interrupted, you can plan some fun, and quiet activities for smaller children. There are plenty of things they can do with little support from their parents, such as DIY, painting, colouring, drawing. Just like at school, you can divide your living room into different play corners: a DYI corner, a reading area, a corner to play with toys. 

Need to do a conference call? Keep them quiet in the meantime by allowing them some TV or Netflix time. They can listen to a kids podcast or record a fun video to share with family they can't see directly. It is important not to offer everything at the same time or on the same day, but to offer some variety so they don’t get bored.

4. Start a routine 

It is important to build some structure into your working day. Arrange your tasks in order of importance and make sure you can carry out the most difficult tasks at times when the children are more relaxed, like early in the morning. By maintaining some form of structure in the family every day, children will adapt faster to working from home environment and your work pace.

Keeping children occupied while focusing on work is not easy, especially if you need to do it on a daily basis over a couple of weeks. Creating some form of routine might help. Like in school, it might be a good idea to plan some workshops throughout the day, with a different activity each time. Make the planning visible so kids can tick things off once done. This can include a creative hour or an hour of free time. 

5. Set some goals for children

A month away from school obviously has an impact on children. By giving your children a little homework every day, they don't fall behind too much. Determine each day which exercises they need to do and by what time they need to finish them. As soon as you have finished your work day, take some time to review their homework together. It will allow your children how to organise their own tasks during the day.

Older children can also be involved in little chores in and around the house. Let them wash the car, weed, fill and empty the dishwasher, tidy up their room. It will keep them busy and you can remove these tasks from your own to-do list, leaving you more family time.

7. Benefit from naps

Do your children still take a nap in the afternoon? Turn this time into your advantage by focusing on those tasks that require the most concentration. By doing so, you don't have to feel guilty when you are less concentrated during the play moments. 

8. Choose the best time for conference calls

Make sure to schedule those meetings at a quiet time during the day, in order not to be interrupted too much. This can be in the early morning when the children are still asleep for example, or at a time when they can watch TV or play on the tablet.

9. Alternate with your partner

If both you and your partner work from home, it can be useful to alternate some time with the children. While one parent focuses on work, the other parent can play a game with the children. In doing so, children will feel included and both parents can complete some work.

10. Ensure a good balance between your work and private life

Finally, it is important to ensure your work-life balance is maintained. Once your work day is done, shut down your PC and enjoy the evening. 

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