Working from home with kids.
COOL, CALM AND COLLECTED…KINDA
A few simple ways to feel like you’ve got things under control.
So you suddenly work from home, and home-school, now what? Yes indeed, it’s a difficult time for people running businesses that are now operating from home alongside spouses and full-time parenting duties while quarantined. Not easy. None of this is easy. In fact mostly, it’s gracefully ungraceful and perfectly imperfect.
As someone who likes certainty, rituals and routine as well as things totally under control; in the face of the world being somewhat out of control right now I thought I’d shed some light on the things I do to diffuse anxiety and maintain law and order – even if only it’s perceived.
These things have helped me generally feel better and remain productive over the past chronically interrupted, near-decade (Business + three little kids + rennovations). So if this is your first foray into doing the work from home jig day in and day out with kids nipping at your heels, then here are some encouraging ideas for you to mull.
raraPR has been a home-based business since day dot (circa 2011). Until not that long ago we worked from a teeny tiny bedroom with sometimes four of us working from a bedroom – definitely no capacity for social distancing back in the good old days!
Bring on late 2019 when we stepped up in the world. The business moved out of the house but remained at home in a renovated studio especially for raraPR and our small but mighty team.
Parenting young children and working from home have all been enduring themes of our behind-the-scenes history while we support businesses with PR, social media and all things brand building.
Right now it’s business as usual.
Except for the part where you can’t leave your house. Or kiss your husband goodbye until dinner time. Or see friends. Or send the kids off to childcare and school for solid uninterrupted focus time. Or meet face-to-face with clients.. Or brainstorm incredible PR ideas with wholesome food while we laugh and dream; all in the one place.
So there’s a bit that has changed but there’s also a lot that hasn’t. I’m kinda used to the hot-shoe shuffle of life, parenting and business not being mutually exclusive from one another. And it ain’t pretty at times. But it is possible to remain cool, calm and collected…kinda.
Here’s how I’ve made working from home, work;
Plan out your day
I’ve owned every goal-setting journal and tres chic notebook under the sun; but for me what works best is a humble Spirax notepad (the horror!). I simply scratch out a list of the things I need to get done and the things I want to get done to make me feel good. Then I barter with the two until I find a balanced compromise that seems realistic. My list always plays to a bigger theme for the year or the month in terms or what I’m actually trying to achieve. Mapping in detail has never worked for me. A theme, projects within that theme and a daily task list the night before, that’s it.
Have daily rituals
At times I suffer from supreme overwhelm. Trying to do too much all at the same time can do that. What’s helped my momentum and productivity is to have daily rituals that are legit achievable. At times (insert: three small kids, renovation, and big corporate clients with big demands) this has meant simply waking up and drinking a glass of water every morning to get ‘ritual momentum’. That’s it. Hoorah, glass of water, law and order is restored. I’m winning.
That micro ritual hack gets me out of routine ruts when they strike. From there the water becomes; water and meditation, then water, mediation and 10 minutes of core strength, then water, meditation and a trip to the gym and before I know it, I’ve habit stacked my way towards momentum, productivity and feeling good. Start small. Make it realistic. And right now that could simply be a 10 min stretch session with the kids in the backyard.
Make your bed in the morning
The correlation to making your bed every day and better productivity is highly reported. If you make your bed every morning you’ll have accomplished the first task of the day. It’s an instant hit of pride, capability and control. It reinforces that the little things in life can build to create a great sense wellbeing. And if all turns pear-shaped thereafter, you know you’ve got a made bed to retreat to at the end of the day. Made bed = winning at life.
Work at your most productive
The whole 5am club concept is not for everyone. Know when you can get a run of uninterrupted time and when you’re at your best. Since business hours aren’t always possible right now for me that’s super early in the morning or very late at night. I actually can’t work with kids in my zone at all. Some people can. I can’t. Therefore I steal the luxury of quiet time very early or very late. Or I pre-negotiate times when I’m working and tic-tac on who is working when. Divide and conquer.
Pretend you’re going to the office
No way am I dressing up unless I have a meeting in person. But I do have a ‘going to work’ ritual, which involves a drive to one of my favourite cafés (while they’re still open for takeaways). Plus a good podcast listen; before arriving back at home to work. Once I’m in the driver’s seat, it’s game on.
Create a dedicated workspace
It’s important to have a space where you can exile family members and set boundaries. I repeat set boundaries. At the moment my husband is working business hours and I’m working evenings and weekends. When I’m working it’s a no go zone. Do not pass go, or go directly to jail if you do.
Structure your social media time
It’s easy to be consumed by entertaining social media rabbit holes right now. I create structure around when I’m working or playing on social media so that it doesn’t steal important productive or creative time. I also put my phone away unless I’m in social media mode for a client or media pitch mode. Definitely create self imposed no chat zones.
Lower your expectations, and don’t judge yourself
Accept that kids don’t seamlessly fit into the working from home life and that everything takes longer than you think. Even my forte Knox walls while I’m in Studio mode; can sometimes be interrupted. With more pressure on the shared living space for everyone right now; we need to pursue with intention yet embrace the rough edges that come with it.
The flexible stick bends back into shape
As the coronavirus turns parents into teachers and our homes into a transitional hub of everything to everyone, everyday; there’s a hot-shoe-shuffle in roles and responsibilities as we redefine the way we live, work, teach, learn, workout and parent. Day one of self-isolation I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed about being a school teacher. It started and finished there. But I’m being kind to myself and just doing whatever I can with the many hats. The flexible stick always bends back into shape. That’s how sometimes I have to approach working from home with kids and it’s how I’m approaching home-school teaching. Every day is a new adventure. And sometimes it’s a misadventure.
There is no one size fits all
Don’t be lured into thinking you need to do this in order to do that. Do what works for you and your family. Accept that some days you’ll fail, but try and try again. Block your time as best you can to do the things that shift your mind to a good space.
Accepting that utter exhaustion is ok sometimes
I’m all about wellbeing. Good sleep, good food, regular exercise and meaningful work and relationships. Sometimes however in the pursuit of building a business, working from home, managing a house, parenting and all the jazz in between – there will be moments of utter exhaustion. It’s not sustainable but it’s ok sometimes. Know that you are not alone and that in pushing past what is uncomfortable, you might just change the world.
Plain and simple living
There’s a lot of talk right now about innovation and the opportunity to think big (admittedly I’ve been on about it too). Challenging times do tend to assert a level of creativity that unearth new ways of doing things. That said however, you don’t need to do anything big, or make anything innovative. Just plain, simple living and taking care of yourself and each other is really all that we need to do in this weird, worrying yet also wonderful world right now.
Words by Jade Roberts
raraPR Founder and Creative Director
raraPR is above all the sum of people who together help build brands and share stories. We are present in our determination to make a positive difference to the world by representing individuals and businesses that are doing good. We are an extension of the personal stories within us, those that we exist for and those within you that need to be heard.