Page 21 - AK Parent Sum20
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 says, can be completed according to her own schedule, provided it’s completed on time. What that schedule looks like, though, has changed during the two years she’s worked from home.
“At the beginning of my work-from-home journey, I would get up early and got a good solid two hours of work in before (my son) woke up,” she explains. “Now with two, it’s a bigger challenge. I realized that with a newborn who wakes up multiple times during the night I needed more sleep. Right now, I am not waking up early to work before they wake up unless I really want to or I was a huge procrastinator and need to just get something done.”
Embrace distractions
Keeping the kids distracted is essential to getting work done. Sometimes, a good distraction is screen time, whether it’s a favorite show, educational app, or online game.
“I try to limit screen time to one hour a day, two hours at most, for my 3-year-old,” Ana says. “I use it as a reward maybe one-third of the time, because screen time shouldn’t be the only reward.”
With the warmer weather, outdoor time keeps kids occupied and provides some quiet moments to knock things off the to-do list. Rylee’s daughter keeps her younger sibling busy in the backyard, while Anchorage artist Christina Wilson often sits in the backyard doing some of her day-to-day administrative tasks while watching her children, 3-year-old Jonah and 8-month- old Avery, explore or play on the swing set.
Depending on the task, having the kids “help” serves as both distraction and quality time together. Christina’s son enjoys applying stickers to the cards she includes in every paint kit, while Rylee brainstorms logo ideas with her daughter.
Other ideas to keep the kids occupied when you need blocks of uninterrupted time:
• Set aside “special occasion” toys. Ana keeps a stash of water beads, magnet sets, and even some stuffed animals hidden, pulling them out for her 3-year-old when she really needs to work without interruptions. “They keep him entertained longer if he doesn’t see them often and they don’t get boring,” she explains. Also, consider rotating toys to keep them new and interesting.
• Puzzles, blocks or similar building activities are great for keeping kids quietly entertained.
• Books, audiobooks and kid-friendly podcasts that are both educational and entertaining.
• It may be messy, but Ana says good old-fashioned play dough keeps her son occupied for hours.
• Rylee has snacks available that are easy for her kids to grab and eat. Fruit, crackers and cheese sticks stored at kid-height levels are great options.
• Pull out the baby carrier. When Ana’s youngest just needs to be close to mom, she straps him in the baby carrier and works at her stand-up desk.
• Coloring or painting is another non-screen time option that keeps kids busy. Christina says she can get a good 30-minutes of painting done if she sets up an easel for Jonah to paint alongside her.
Set boundaries
Kids naturally crave their parents’ attention, which makes setting boundaries important.
“One of the things I started immediately upon transitioning to working from home was explaining to my older son that sometimes I am in the middle of something on my work computer and I have to finish that thing before I can give him my full attention,” Ana explains.
Though it took time – as well as some tears – to fully enforce the rule, Ana says her son eventually learned that patience paid off.
“Within a month or so, he got used to waiting patiently while I finished up, and then I gave him the attention he wanted,” she says.
Just as important as establishing boundaries about work time is setting boundaries about the workspace.
“He has his own little keyboard and mouse that he can ‘work’ with,” Ana says of her son. “Mine are off- limits. I have to stay firm with this boundary.”
Create a support network
Having people who can step in to assume parenting duties can be a tremendous help.
“I have an amazing husband who’s super supportive,” Christina says, though she recognizes it’s a luxury not all work-from-home parents may have. Her husband not only keeps the kids occupied during her dedicated work time, but reminds her to take it.
Ana also says she’s thankful to have parents and siblings nearby who can pitch in and help, as well as a group of friends she shares babysitting duties with.
Sometimes, the support network extends to include clients and co-workers. Ana’s co-workers provide advance notice of meetings and trainings so she can arrange to have someone watch her children, and her supervisor checks-in before assigning urgent work. Many of Rylee’s clients are family-run businesses who understand her situation, which make it easier to work with the kids at home.
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summer 2020 alaska parent 21
“You have to find what works for you.”
 “I try to limit screen time to one hour a day, two hours at most, for my 3-year-old.”

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