A large number of people in North Texas are now working from home with social distancing in place, and some of those people may have a hard time transitioning. This mommy blogger worked at home previously before going back to office life, and she has some tips for you on how to make the best of it.
I started working from home when I had one kid in first grade, one in kindergarten and two in preschool. It was a nightmare.
Before then I worked full-time, and for a while I’d been a stay-at-home parent. While both of these were difficult in their different way, I can say working at home was the hardest for me. I constantly felt like I was failing my job, my home, or (on most days) both at the same time.
Years later I finally feel prepared for the challenges of working from home. Though it is difficult, it’s extremely rewarding when you have a plan of attack. Now that we are in a time where more people are experiencing a work-from-home environment, I want to share what I’ve learned.
First of all, and I can’t stress this enough, be realistic. Give yourself a little grace and time to transition. If you wake up on day one thinking you are going to work seven productive hours, get in a quick run, and clean your walk-in closet, you are going to go to bed either completely burnt out or very disappointed in yourself.
Think like this, when you are working in the office, you can’t also clean your house or get a list of personal items completed. Don’t give up on this dream—working from home does afford you greater flexibility. Just be realistic in your expectations.
HAVE A SCHEDULE
Being realistic works best if you have a schedule. This is really important to set up proper work/life habits. Have a start time on your job. Depending on your workload, you can schedule in time to do non-work related things. For example, take some time to read or watch the news in the morning or do your daily devotional.
Schedule an hour to take a walk, do a workout video, or clean a bathroom. Set and name alarms to break up your day, and then stick to it as best you can. This will help you end the day with a sense of accomplishment.
Something that works for me is to act professional. Now, I’m not going to say you should get up each morning and put on a suit—in fact, my leggings game is on point since I’ve been working in my house. But whatever helps you get into work mode, you do you.
But I strongly advocate for a professional mindset. This means getting dressed (even if it’s sweats), having a dedicated workspace (out of bed), and eliminating time-wasters like TV or social media.
I will admit, sometimes having the television on as background noise helps me pass the time on repetitive tasks—but if I find myself actively watching instead of actively working, it has to go.
I like to find a quiet playlist (my go-to is Korean R&B, so I couldn’t sing along if I tried), and schedule half an hour to skim my timelines—it helps keep me honest.
Now that schools are closed, even the finest schedule is probably thrown out of whack. If your kids are like mine, they fight, eat, and beg pretty much all day. So my best advice is to plan kids into your day—but don’t let their moods determine your schedule.
I plan a general schedule, and know that whenever there is a transition, I will need time to facilitate it. If you have calls or meetings, prepare in advance. Set them up with a movie, or some activity that will take the time you need. I’ve even been known to put my kids in the backyard with water, snacks and plenty of activities when I need an hour of quiet.
And let them know the boundaries. My kids know what time their next meal or snack is coming. They know when I have a call, and they know they must solve problems quietly and on their own. I’ve explained to them what I’m doing, why it’s important, and what will happen if they interrupt me unnecessarily.
I’ve found that kids rise to your level of expectation and are capable of more than we give them credit for.
Finally, and probably most importantly, be flexible. The allure of working from home is potentially achieving that unicorn known as work/life balance. Though it is difficult, you can make this work for you and your family. Some days throw punches, and being flexible allows me to stay in the fight.
When I’m feeling under the weather, I can stay in bed a little later and answer emails from my phone. When my kids just won’t let me work in the afternoon, I attend to them and push off my work until they are settled into bed.
Sometimes, I even let them have (gasp) screen time to get through a task. With all of the educational games and shows available, this can be a great option.
Whenever work is slow, or I’ve completed my list for the day, I reward myself with a TV show or do something productive around the house—is it sad that cleaning is considered a reward? Not to me! Getting a moment to scrub a neglected toilet, or half an hour on the treadmill in the middle of the day are activities that once sounded horrible, and now are the hallmark of the work-from-home life.
So count your blessings, and get back to work!
Jenay Sherman is a Christian, wife, and mother to four boys in McKinney, Texas. She was selected as the American Mothers‘ 2017 Texas Mother of the Year, and loves writing about their family adventures. You can follow along on her personal site 4 Amusing Muses.