Working from home — especially when you have children around to also care for — requires a certain self-discipline, but even the most organized and motivated of us can falter at certain times of the year like the winter holidays or the summertime. I speak from personal experience.
Since I left my old office job to become a full-time dad who works from home, optimizing time has become essential. I’ve found the best hours to work are in the morning when the boys have school and at night after they go to sleep. Today’s smartphones work almost as well as laptops do so I sometimes squeeze in business while waiting at the gym for my son to finish his hip-hop lesson. One way or another both the work for my job and of tending to my children get done.
However, summer always brings added challenges to my attempts at working from home. Some days the children may be home all day, especially during those gaps between the end of school and the start of summer camp and vice versa. Babysitters may not be available or too expensive. The grandparents may not be around to help. Working from home while having two little monsters call for your attention every five minutes is impossible
Having experienced myself, I would like to offer you some practical advice on how to best manage these “emergency” situations that are constructive and help you avoid placing children in front of the television so you can get something accomplished.
From chaos, create order
An activity that works well for both my children, ages 7 and 3, is to organize our bookshelves. I give them a mission: for example, dust the books them reorder them by grouping them by color or height. Since our house has many books, this provides the children with a couple of hours of autonomous work that requires concentration and skills.
I also found the Marie Kondo method of organizing works quite well, at least at the beginning and with children age 6 and up. Tidying up your drawers according to a precise discipline that the Japanese writer explains very well in her tutorials available online.
Let them cook
I taught both of my children to do little things in the kitchen. Matteo, the oldest, loves preparing shakes and making pancakes. With our youngest, Noah, I often entrust culinary assignments that require a bit of dedication, such as shelling pistachios for pesto sauce or peeling shrimp. In this way, they feel part of the family activity … and save you some work.
Their nap time is your work time
If the children are small, the afternoon nap is your oasis — for work or your own rest. However, when children become older, it is a problem to get them to sleep. In this case, I’ve found some apps that simulate the noise of nature, a stream, the chirping of birds or even a moving train help lull them into dreamland. Combining this app with a brief story can lead to an afternoon nap that allows you to avoid the noise pollution and quietly make a few phone calls.