The best ways I found to stay productive while stuck at home with kids during a school closure
Many schools are closed (or soon will be) over fears that the Omicron variant of Covid will spread to students and teachers if those halls of learning remain open.
Are you a work-at-home parent or guardian of a student sent home because of a school closure? Is this your first rodeo? Or have you been on this ride before?
Admittedly, we’re all beyond exhausted by this pandemic. The last thing any of us looks forward to is another wave. Still, while we need to stay strong, we also need to avoid putting too much pressure on ourselves—like the pressure that comes with having to get important office chores done as little feet unceasingly scamper in and around our workspaces.
When my wife and I work from home while at the same time taking care of our two young daughters, we use a handful of techniques that help us a lot. If you aren’t already using these yourself, you should give them a try:
1. Set up routines for you and your kids.
You’ll rather quickly hit the wall and reach “decision fatigue” trying to juggle kids and job under the same roof. It’ll help if you can (to the extent possible) operate throughout your day on autopilot. A routine will help you do that. It’ll allow you to get stuff done without having to give it much thought. Also, a routine for your children will help them develop discipline and be less inclined to run riot while you toil at your desk. They loved the printout of their routine I had posted on the wall so they could better engage with “their” schedule.
2. Take the kids for a walk.
Better yet, take them for a run. I made sure my children got at least 30 minutes twice a day to scurry about at the local park and even just up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. The idea is you let them burn off energy they would otherwise use to bounce themselves off the walls inside your home.
3. Catch 40 winks at midday.
Sleep experts say noontime napping is OK for kids up to the age of 7 (after that, they won’t feel the need to snooze during the day until—oddly enough—they’re your age and have children of their own). If you can get your little ones to take a nap, it’ll be your big chance to work intensively on tasks best performed interruption-free, or to refresh yourself by joining those tiny sleepy heads in the land of Nod.
4. Treat yourself well.
It’s harder to take care of kids if you neglect yourself. To make sure I stay centered, I tried to exercise every day (even if those were only "deskercises") and to eat a balanced diet. There are many other ways to do right by yourself: for example, you can put up on your walls assorted positivity messages, you can sneak a few minutes here and there throughout the day to watch inspirational/uplifting videos. Have you ever tried a Mind Spa? I have. And I discovered that making it a part of my daily routine reduced the stress I was feeling. It also helped me enjoy better quality sleep.
5. Unclutter your home.
OK, granted, this one’s a toughie with small children in the picture (five minutes after you pick up all their toys, the room again looks like a disaster zone), but you’ll find as did we in our household, that keeping things minimalgoes a long way toward instilling calm and wellbeing. Toward this end, it’s hard to go wrong by tossing out stuff you don’t really need or use and then afterward optimizing your newly opened spaces with versatile furniture.
6. Unclutter their toybox.
By reducing that Lego count from one million to, say, a mere few thousand, you’ll significantly lower your risk of stepping barefoot on them in the middle of the night. Hah, hah—just kidding. You can never eliminate that risk as long as there is so much as a single Lego block in the house. But the fact is, if your youngsters are left with fewer toys, you’ll find they appreciate much more the ones they do have. They’re also likely to become more creative in the way they play with those that remain. Consequently, they won’t grow bored as easily and quickly—meaning they’ll stay occupied longer which will let you focus more on your work.
Even though my wife and I did all these things, we still had our moments of frustration. But what made everything better in the end was the realization that this forced, concentrated family togetherness was nobody’s fault and was in fact a great gift—the gift of time.
It occurred to us that this gift of time with your children was something we might not otherwise have received were we not in this situation. My friends with older kids always tell me to enjoy it while it lasts, because children grow up fast and seemingly in the blink of an eye are leading busy adult lives of their own.
Carefully curating your environment and bringing mindfulness in your daily routine have a significant impact on your wellbeing. As good design enhances and simplifies a complex world, now more than ever, we are dedicated to bringing to you those outstanding designs to help you on your journey to greater wellness.