Find yourself frequently humming the line, “And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again” from the classic tune “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas?” Children home on break can try the patience of any parent. But for remote workers, the situation becomes especially complex as they attempt to juggle work with childcare.
Such a balancing act should not be a regular occurrence, but managing a week or two is doable—with some forethought.
Try these tips for working from home when your kids are out of school:
If able, taking some vacation time while the kids are home oftentimes proves the sanest solution. Another option is to free up your schedule as much as possible beforehand by getting more accomplished while the house is still quiet in the weeks leading up to their holiday break.
Have some tasks that simply must get done on a certain day? Rise with the chickens or stay up with the owls while the children are nestled all snug in their beds. Losing some sleep to gain uninterrupted time can be a worthwhile trade-off.
Outsmart cries of, “I’m bored” with plenty to keep young complainers occupied while you work. Rent a few DVDs they’ve never seen. Gather art supplies for a marathon holiday card-making session. Allow them to open one of their Christmas presents early, especially a gift that encourages getting lost in play for hours, such as a new Lego set. See if your park district offers a winter-break day camp or if the local library hosts any “school’s out” afternoon activities.
The Elf on the Shelf may be monitoring their behavior, but that doesn’t mean kids still won’t try to pull a guilt trip on you for not spending more time with them. Try a little negotiation, such as, “If you let Mommy finish her report without interrupting, we’ll make sugar cookies at 3:00.”
Ask for help.
Don’t be a martyr! If your mother-in-law offers to spend the afternoon playing Monopoly with the kids, jump at the chance. Convince your spouse that taking the kids to the movies would be good for everyone. Got a teenage neighbor looking to earn a little holiday cash? Hire her to baby-sit a few hours each day.
Explain your job.
If kids do not understand what you do, they may view your frequent forays into the home office as shunning them. Talk about different kinds of workplaces and how you’re fortunate to hold a remote position that lets you perform tasks at home. Discuss how the company trusts you to work without someone there to look over your shoulder, but you must do a good job and finish things on time because others depend on your efforts.
Cut yourself some slack.
Finally, forget perfection. Sometimes work responsibilities need to take priority, and you might need to skip a snowman-building session. Sometimes catching Santa at the mall means cutting the workday short to arrive before closing. Establish a work-life rhythm for the season, and you’ll soon be singing a happy tune!
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