Summer is winding down as school, work and life tries to find normalcy in a changed world. As someone who has worked from home since the 90’s evolving from a sliver of space in my bedroom in the apartment I shared with my boyfriend (now 27-year husband) to having the bigger of our two home offices with three college-age kids under our roof, I’m devoting this issue to those of you who might be in varied stages of sharing your space.
I can relate to your pain, but we have to cope and find our way.
Here are some TRUTHS to remember:
- Distractions are REAL and CONVENIENT (choose wisely).
- HOME chores can wait (don’t use them to procrastinate, extra points for multi-tasking that doesn’t disrupt your work).
- COMPROMISE will have to become your middle name.
- WORK will take over your life like THE BLOB (make rules and set boundaries).
- CHILDREN will take over your life like THE BLOB (they are capable of more than you ask of them).
- PEOPLE WHO HOMESCHOOL (pre-COVID), do not do so six hours a day. 2-3 hours tops! (don’t stress and know that distance learning for six hours is unrealistic for most kids but especially elementary school and middle school).
- LIFE IS NOT FAIR (just a reminder).
Here are some TIPS to consider:
- DO what you DREAD MOST first (do the hardest thing first).
- ASK for meeting agendas (or provide them) so your time is not wasted.
- CREATE a space for each worker/student in your home (even if you are just in separate corners).
- DETERMINE DAILY SCHEDULES in concert with all household member (even young kids) There is less conflict when everyone knows in advance what is going on.
- DETERMINE who needs one-on-one time to perform best and who doesn’t (your team members or kids).
- GET ALONE time for a few minutes a day even if it means waking earlier.
Here are some TRICKS to try:
- AUTOMATE what you can (grocery delivery, workflow, use your technology)
- Have kids EARN screen time or other privileges that used to be a given (delegate those chores!)
- INCLUDE younger kids in your work (can they make copies, write a legal argument or presentation? (just to keep them busy, not for reals, silly! My daughter wrote a book when she was six while I was writing mine—gave me gaps of time to work!)
- MULTI-TASK your down time. Yes, we all deserve to just turn off and do nothing or watch TV, but we can also fold laundry, sew on a button, pay bills or some of the other chores that don’t need to happen during the workday.
This is no picnic but how soon we’ll be back to “normal” is anybody’s guess. We may find some new ways of working and doing school that will transcend COVID time and become a good thing in the long run.
I have no doubt you are creative and resourceful. I hope these ideas help.
P.S. I’ve avoided suggesting too many things that require high costs. I know there are people hiring their own teacher in a pod or paying for all in-home services or deliveries. Not all have those avenues available. Where can you join forces with someone who could use more help? How do we find solutions that work for everybody?