WHEN YOUR HOME OFFICE DÉCOR INCLUDES LEGO

We all had to come to terms with a new reality in April – being restricted to our homes. To ensure that we try and keep the wheels of business turning, we all had wonderful ideas of how we will work from home, maintain certain routines and get everything done.  But then it hit us:  the children will also be at home, sharing our space and demanding our time.

LEVEL 4 LOCKDOWN

Now that lockdown has been downgraded to level 4, some people are able to return to work and divide their time between house and work again.  But for many of us, especially also those with children, it will be another period of working from home.  We have not yet received any clarity of when schools will be able to open and level 4 also means that we are not yet allowed to operate at full capacity in the workplace.

CHILDREN AND BUSINESS

So, how do you cope with work when your home office décor now includes Lego?  It is difficult – especially with smaller children – but not impossible.  If you are still struggling to get into a rhythm – we did have a short work month with several public holidays – here are a few tips to help you get through the next phase of working from home.

According to BBC.com good planning, structure, creativity and flexibility can help you create an environment where everyone can fulfil their obligations.

Have a plan

It is important to draw up a plan of how you need this to be structured.  Communicate this to your partner and older children.  It is important that you set boundaries and that everyone understands your plan.  However, do not try to keep to a normal office timetable!  Acknowledge that the situation has changed and that you need to restructure your day.

Take turns

If your partner also needs to work from home, take turns to look after the children.  Allow each person time to concentrate solely on work so that everyone gets some work done in a day without having too much of an impact on the household routine.  It is good to discuss the day over your first coffee so that you can accommodate each other’s schedule.

Enjoy your children

We have been given this extra time with our children so enjoy it!  Even though this is a strange situation, do not dwell on the challenges! Avoid judging yourself – or others – on what can be done each day.  Your children will only be this age once and you should enjoy the phase that they are in.  Like COVID-19, this phase too shall pass and then it will be a new phase.

Keep your children entertained

You know your child and you know that the child can be entertained for say 20 minutes with a certain toy or activity.  Use this time and get at least one task done during this time!

Half your “to do list”

No one can work at full capacity at home, no matter how old your children are.  There is food to be prepared, a partner that needs attention and (if you have a garden) the outside is calling you!   Take your “to do list” for the day and cut it in half.  Then work around your children’s naps, or their bedtime.  This way you will be able to give attention to their home schooling and other needs when they are awake and do your own tasks when they do not need your attention!

Dedicated workspace

It is important to create a space in the home where you work.  This way your children will understand that you can not be disturbed when you are in that space.  If you work in a family room, where they watch TV or play, they will consider this as an area of relaxation, with free access to you.  So, even if you work in your bedroom, you do need a space where you are “officially” busy.

Create a boredom box

Fill an old shoe box with craft items (age appropriate) for your child. This can include buttons, glitter, glue, scissors, paper, feathers etc.  Make cards with projects like “Make grandma a Mother’s Day Card” , or “Make a poster of our next holiday”.  Let them then work on their craft/creation while you get some work done.

Video call rules

It is important to explain to the children that you need to take video calls at home to be able to provide for them.  They need to understand that background chatter or looking over your shoulder is not allowed during these times.  You can disable the video and have the child on your lap – but mute the sound!  Or have the child next to you, holding his/her hand and giving them the comfort that you are there even though you are busy.  It is a known fact that as soon as you pick up the phone or take the video call a child will need you.  So, prepare for this and in this way manage your stress.

Prioritise your schedule

If you have important tasks to complete, try to get up earlier in the day and get this done before the household awakes.  Or work a little later at night to meet the deadlines.  Ensure that you also have time to assist your children with their home schooling during this time – you do not want regrets after lockdown when your child has fallen behind because of your lack of planning!

Choices!

It is important to also allow your children some choices.  Let them choose how to spend the morning.  Pre-prepare lunch options and snacks for the day and let them decide when and what to eat.   Ask them about their plans for the morning, while you work.  They may just want to be on their own, watching a movie.  Or reading.  Remember – you do not have to control everything during this time.

HOW TO DEAL WITH SCREEN FATIGUE

We realise that it is tough on you – but we need to keep in mind that our families are also feeling the stress.  Children are missing their friends, so maybe allow a video call with a friend for them to catch up.  Your partner is also stressed about work – so give each other room to be productive and to relax. Allow yourself “screen free time” because working from home sometimes means we are too scared to ever be away from our screens…. Causing screen fatigue.

ALL IN THE SAME BOAT

We are all in the same situation and although its sounds unbelievable, time is relative now.  A meeting starting 5 minutes late or a deadline pushed forward with a few minutes will not change the current situation at all.  Until we are fully operational again, we need to be accommodating and understanding towards these challenges – and we need to support each other to get through this!

Article by Hanlie Delport

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