Many of us have been working from home (WFH) for almost a year. Although it has its benefits, it can be a real challenge with kids. Bouncing between Zoom calls, monitoring schoolwork and racing to the store to pick up printer supplies can make for a stressful weekday morning.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro at WFH or you’re still coming to grips with the pandemic routine, you might have noticed that keeping things fun is vital in sustaining a healthy working and living environment. Remember that your kids aren’t used to this, either, and it’s difficult for them as well.
Assuming you have the work part of your day somewhat under control, there are some great ways to make working from home fun for your kids.
1. Establish a Schedule and Plan for the Unexpected
The easiest piece of advice to give WFH parents is micromanaging every second of the day for you and your kids. In theory, it makes sense. You can get up a couple of hours early, take care of your most important work tasks, prepare everyone’s food for the next 12 hours and then spend the rest of the day performing a strategic balancing act of taking business calls and entertaining children.
While scheduling and organizing can be effective, all it takes is an hour of spotty Wi-Fi, an emergency team meeting or a child-related kitchen spill to cause your schedule to go awry. If your plan is failing and it’s impeding your work and home life, there’s no point trying to stick to it.
If you find fun in the chaos of a typical day WFH, there may be no need to schedule. However, if you’re struggling to find time to talk to your kids and make sure they’re having fun, a little organization can go a long way.
Creating a schedule with your children can also be a fun activity. Under your guidance, get your children to make lists of all the fun things they want to do. Try to find a way of covering all activities throughout the day or week, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Schedule quality time every day, but plan for interruptions. An hour or two of fun could buy you enough time to get some good work done.
2. Use Technology to Your Advantage
No matter how hard you try, it’s difficult to have fun with your kids all day while completing a work shift. Use technology to your advantage and let your children have fun.
While many modern parents are trying to reduce screen time for their children, it might be time for an exception. As long as the iPad or TV aren’t the only sources of fun, allowing your kids a little extra screen time shouldn’t be something to feel guilty about.
Video games like the Nintendo Switch are versatile and inclusive. There are activity-based games that can double as exercise. As a parent, you can join in for a couple of minutes when an opportunity presents itself. If you need a calmer environment at home, the Switch can be played as a handheld device.
If you want your kids to take a break from screens, you can benefit from technology in other ways. Stock up on laser printer ink and print off coloring sheets, puzzles and fun games to complete throughout the day.
3. Throw It Back to the Good Old Days
It’s fun to teach your children some games you played growing up to create a break from the norm. Puzzles, jigsaws, board games or hide-and-seek could be new household favorites. One of the benefits of introducing children to these games is that once you help them get started, you can take a back seat and supervise while you work.
A fun game you can get plenty of mileage from is a treasure hunt. Depending on how old your kids are, there are a few useful approaches.
The first is to create a theme and instruct the kids to search the house, garden or both, for their theme-based objects or toys. This is ideal for younger kids who love nothing more than exploring.
If your kids are a little older, you can make the instructions more complex. Create a written list of clues alluding to where the items are. If that involves too much preparation, a photo scavenger hunt is always an exciting version. Put together a list of items that each child has to take photos of, such as bugs, flowers, leaves and other things unique to your area.
4. Organize Learning Activities
Learning activities are great for multiple reasons. They allow children to learn valuable skills they can take with them throughout their lives. They also involve discovery and engaging in new tasks. When done right, learning activities are fun.
Virtually all art projects are learning activities. Singing and playing musical instruments are other examples of excellent learning activities. For something more accessible, consider hosting weekly cooking or baking lessons. Besides, who doesn’t want freshly baked cookies every Thursday? Chalk up making a sourdough starter to a science activity and compare the baking results with breads made from store-bought yeast.
5. Prioritize Exercise and Naptime
Sleep is a valuable commodity when you’re working and taking care of children. While naps may not be something you’re interested in taking, they are great for young children. It opens up some productive hours for you and can lead to a less irritable child later in the evening.
Exercise helps to regulate sleep, productivity and energy levels. Children who engage in regular exercise fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer than other kids. Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep enhances your child’s mood, improves their judgment and boosts their memory. Having fun is a lot easier with a well-rested child.
Try to Distinguish Between Work and Play
While fun and enjoyment are essential aspects of life, you must distinguish between work and play when WFH. This can help you do a better job at work and allow you to enjoy your kids more because you can give each other more of your undivided attention.
The key is to find balance. Take work seriously, but take time out of your day to have fun with your children.
5 Ways to Make Working from Home Fun for Your Kids is a feature post