As a writer, I have worked from home for the past 11 years. During this time, I have worked full time as a staff writer for a magazine, freelanced for various publications, and blogged. I began my career as a single woman and now I take care of my three small kids while writing part-time.
I had plenty of time over the years to develop strategies that allowed me to feed, bathe, discipline, and play with my kids over the years. The recent surge in remote workers and school closures has undoubtedly left many employees, many of whom are parents, at a loss for how to cope with all these sudden, unexpected changes. Here are a few tips for workers new to working remotely.
1) Sleep in
Not waking up to a blaring alarm clock is one of the major perks of working from home. If you don’t have to virtually clock in by a certain time, definitely take advantage of your ability to sleep until you naturally wake up.
2) Eat breakfast and maintain a lunch break
It’s easy to succumb to a snacking lifestyle, but try to keep a regular meal schedule. It will give your days structure and remind you that you still need to work and your kids still need to do their school work. In unsettled times, a routine can help maintain good mental health and calm anxiety about what will happen next on both national and global levels.
3) Use the TV as a tool
My kids are pretty young – aged 7, 4, and 1 – so I don’t even try to sit down at my computer and work until their energy is burned off. Every morning, I feed them breakfast, help them get dressed, and ensure they engage in active play for a couple of hours.
This can be either building forts and playing catch with a squishy ball in the house, or (weather permitting) playing in the yard or riding their bikes. Between 11 a.m. and noon, I feed them lunch and set them up with a cartoon. They are in a better state of mind to sit and watch the whole show, giving me about 1 ½ to 2 hours of concentrated work time.
4) Go to bed on time
Don’t stay up late into the night working on your computer. I did this for years (until just recently, actually), and it is terrible for your health. This is especially true if you are the primary caretaker of children. Moms (and dads) need sleep, too, regardless of other obligations that take up your daytime hours.
Try to establish a schedule that allows you to accomplish your highest priority work during regular business hours, then eat dinner, watch a little TV, and get some shut-eye. You won’t be able to work from home or anywhere else unless your body gets to rest.
5) Lower your standards
This applies to child behavior, housework, personal appearance, and mealtime preparations. Working from home while the kids are suddenly home from school is a new frontier for most Americans. Cut yourself some slack; your sanity will thank you.
Best of luck to all my fellow remote workers! Let’s all keep working and doing our part to help the economy keep chugging along.