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  • Writer's pictureEllen Martin

Working From Home During Shelter in Place Orders

This is a crazy time for everybody. We are faced with a new reality and we are unsure of what the world is going to look like in a month, a year, or 10 years. So many people are working from home under Shelter In Place orders and many of them are doing so for the first time.

Add in a working spouse and two kids who need homeschooling and the average work day is looking a lot different than our old "normal."

I've worked for myself (and largely from home) for nearly 6 years now - and thought I'd share some of the tips and tricks for getting done what I need to get done. Also, know that some of these things will work for some kids and not for others. So don't give up if something doesn't seem to go right. This is just some ideas of what has worked in our house.

Don't feel guilty.

I know this is easier said than done - but it is ok if you have to hand over the iPads or turn on the TV because you have a scheduled zoom meeting. Prioritize your time so that when you are available the kids aren't on the electronics - so you aren't as worried about handing them over when it is really necessary. If you have a set time when you know the kids are going to be on the computer or TV -- try and schedule your meetings at that time.

Have a quiet time hour.

Ask the kids to take a one hour break during the day (we do our right after lunch) when they are in their own rooms and playing or reading quietly. Mine set alarms on their Alexa or Step Watch so that they know when their hour is up. I'm not picky about what they do during this time at all --- except no screen time and it needs to be relatively quiet.

Do what you can when they sleep.

For me this is in the evening. Once my kids are asleep I do the things I can do ahead of time for the next day or two. I try and get as far ahead as I can during this time. I know for some people the morning is better. If you're kid sleep in and you can wake up and get some work done with your first cup of coffee - take advantage of that time too.

Understand that things are going to slip through the cracks.

Have honest discussions with your boss, coworkers, clients, etc. about the situation you are in and when you will be able to get to things that they are asking for. Most everyone is in an unusual situation right now and most people are very understanding.

If you are a boss or supervisor - be supportive and understanding of your employees and staff. Hear a kid in the background on a call? Give the other person some space to answer the child before continuing the conversation. If you call without scheduling a time - be sure to ask "Is this a good time?"

Try not to get distracted by laundry and cleaning.

This is something I've struggled with since I first started working from home. It is easy to think of things you need to do around the house when you are stuck there. But hey, the kids are around too - so maybe you can give them chore money or chore points to help with things. My kids wipe down sink and door handles and the kitchen table every day after lunch as part of our routine.

If the routine isn't working, try something new.

I've already changed the routine two times in the last 5 weeks and I'm sure I'll do it again before long. Sometime a routine gets stale and old and people need something else. Work together as a family to make sure needs are being met for everyone (yourself included!) and find a routine that will help you accomplish what you need to do.

I'm trying to be easier on myself these days - but of course its difficult. There is stress and anxiety that plays into how our day goes (for us and the rest of the family). If you have social media or communication needs that you need help with during this time - please feel free to reach out to me. Stay home and stay safe!

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