As much as adults loathe being in the office on a bright sunny day, let’s face it, we are missing some of that loathing. Even with face masks and sanitisers galore, the normalcy of going to work (like it’s 2019) is something you crave now.
Phase 2 (heightened alert) of the lockdown isn’t making things any easier and your ‘to-do’ list requires extra effort.
That’s the case with most of us in the lockdown. And for those with kids at home, it’s a completely different adventure managing their schedules as well as your own.
Apart from spending more time cooking, cleaning and washing dishes, you can barely concentrate on your work commitments. And who can forget kids unceremoniously inviting themselves into your Zoom work calls.
Sure, everyone has a good laugh but that’s a distraction for you, especially when you have deadlines to meet. To be fair, it’s not your child’s fault either. They are as cooped up as much as you are with home-based learning, and will behave like “kids” at some point.
It’s here that you realise why having a schedule and some boundaries in place actually helps getting things done – personally and professionally.
With work from home here to stay for at least a few more weeks, we list down five parenting life hacks that you can try to avoid distractions when working.
5 Parenting Life Hacks To Work Without Distractions At Home
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Children need movement, face-to-face interactions and more physical activities to make sense of their world. So the sudden change will see some level of resistance. Nevertheless, a few hacks and compromises, and you can make this work.
1. Prioritise their needs
Children find it difficult to focus when their basic needs are not met. They will keep coming back to you for something or the other, being distractive throughout the day. That’s why make sure to meet all their needs before you begin work.
This usually includes their food, bath, and maybe a designated activity. If you are keeping your child occupied in an activity, keep checking in short intervals to make sure they are doing fine. You can also align the same with your own work breaks.
For toddlers who are clingy and do not stay too far from you, try bringing their cot or play area closer to your workstation. This way, you will be able to stay close to them without compromising on your professional commitments.
At the same time, do not expect children to stay committed to a single activity for a long time. Kids are easily distracted and may not have a good amount of focus.
While you can work on building the focus, it’s a long process and will take time. When you check up on them regularly, you are silently reassuring them of your presence and that will help kids feel safe.
2. Create a schedule that suits your child
Kids tend to feel more responsible when parents give them control of the situation It is also more likely that the child will take a genuine interest in completing their tasks.
As a hack, draw up a schedule of activities with your kids for the week.
You can make this a fun to-do list with pictures or keywords that your kids can quickly identify. Place it in the house where your child can easily see it as a reminder.
Scheduling tasks and meeting those goals is an important life skill, especially when it comes to organising time and tasks.
Not just during the lockdown but in higher classes, college and even work, your child will be able to organise and accomplish tasks in a better way.
Remember, the goals need to realistic and attainable, in order to encourage your little one to feel empowered and follow through on the schedule.
3. Delayed gratification
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The old-school bribery never fails in the outside world, and you can try it out at home too. The only difference is that you call it an incentive for your child to achieve his goals.
Mums and dads can try the “if/then” statements to motivate children to accomplish tasks and behave in a certain way.
For instance, if you tell them “Mamma has a video call to attend at 4 pm, so if you do not disturb me, then I will make your favourite snack at 5 pm.”
That incentive is likely to buy you an hour of interrupted work time. You can also make this a regular affair where children collect stars every time they do not interrupt you.
They can later redeem these stars for something of their choice. A visual representation on a board or paper also helps in keeping the motivation high. It helps reinforce good behaviour while helping control instant gratification.
4. Prepare for your meetings
It helps if you communicate with your child about any work commitments that require you to be on call or at the desk for a specific period. This will help your child prepare in advance that they are not supposed to enter your workspace without permission.
At the same time, ensure that you are accessible to them in case they end up hurting themselves or a part of the house needs immediate attention.
You can also make a stash of sorts around the house where kids can spend time with art and crafts materials in case they are bored. This does come in handy when you want them to be occupied for a while.
At the same time, make sure to explain your situation to your client and co-workers in case you have uninterrupted visitors dropping in the background.
It’s also smart to enable screen time for your kids around the same time as your work commitments. Kids stay glued to the television or tablet, whereas you safely complete your professional tasks.
5. Create a designated workspace
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Work from home can get distracting, especially with everything else happening around the house. And this will hamper your creative and productive energy.
That’s why, much like your cubicle/cabin, make sure to create designated space in the house. It can be a desk or corner where you work from and do not like any distractions.
It’s also a visual reminder to your children that if mum and dad are working from that spot, they are not to be disturbed.
You can also make this more fun by adding a barricade, so your kids know they need permission to cross the line. This is one of the more underrated parenting life hacks but quite effective in real life.
The lockdown and the pandemic aren’t easy for anyone. But the more organised you are, the less stress you will carry. And these parenting life hacks are intended to make your life easier.
Having said that, cut yourself some slack and be okay with mistakes and celebrate the little achievements. A positive attitude and a healthy mind with help you and your family to cope with the pandemic in a better fashion.