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 The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 13 April 2020
  • Alex Penfield

How to Handle Working at Home with Kids

In the blink of an eye, parents’ work lives have been turned upside down. Home offices and workspaces now have multi-functions as playrooms and schools, and “co-workers” have become younger, louder and sometimes rather demanding. If you find yourself in the uncharted (and often chaotic) waters of working at home with kids, keep in mind you may just have a leg up as a small business owner. As an entrepreneur, you’re inherently agile, determined and accustomed to change. So while your workday may look a bit different, you’re already set up for success in this new, kid-shared environment. For more ways to balance running your small business while your kids are at home, check out our tips below:

  • Readjust your expectations: Accept the fact that this is the new normal and that unless you have a full-time caregiver or spouse who can devote their full attention to your kids, the old rules of productivity have gone out the door. To avoid undue distress and disappointment, now is the time to get real with your own expectations — and what you expect from your kids.

  • Establish a new routine: Try to create some semblance of an organizing principle for each day, understanding you won’t be able to follow a minute-by-minute schedule given the addition of your illogical (but adorable!) co-workers. Aim to organize your day around key events such as mealtime, e-learning and outdoor play, and use these as anchors to fit your work responsibilities around. While it may feel like your business is taking a back seat during this time, people will understand that family comes first.

  • Give yourself a break: Start by cutting yourself some slack. This is a historic situation with no precedent, meaning there are no best practices, and we’re all just doing the best we can. Some days will feel like a never-ending fail, while others will leave you feeling confident in both your work and family life. Try not to stress if your kids interrupt an important call or their little face makes an appearance on your video conference. Keep in mind that most people are facing the exact same challenges and if you handle these interruptions with grace and humor, it will ultimately reflect better on you.

  • Give your kids a break: Remind yourself that kids are kids. They too are finding ways to process this and are doing their best to adjust to their new situation. For most kids, this equates to wanting to be comforted. And comfort means being close to you. If you give them something to focus on in your vicinity, it may help to keep them calm and allow you to find some quiet time to focus on your work. Set up a work space for them that’s similar to yours, with paper, crayons and other supplies, and give them “work” to do — coloring, reading, cutting paper shapes — as a way to make them feel both constructive and cared for. For more inspiration on creative activities to keep your kids occupied, check out this site.

  • Relax the rules: Extenuating circumstances mean your normal rules may require some loosening. It’s okay to say yes to screen time when you need a break or to allow a fun snack as a distraction. Remember that this is temporary and that an extra hour of TV time isn’t likely to permanently affect your child’s SAT scores.

As you navigate your new normal as a small business owner, remember to relax and try to take a minute out of each day to appreciate something good in your life. While it may not feel like it now, having the opportunity to spend this extra time with your kids will be something you’ll someday cherish.

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