Imagine the scene. Gangnam Style is playing on repeat, with the accompanying dance moves being practiced by a 6 and (almost) 8 year old...Right.Beside.Me. Half cut out craft objects are strewn across the table, an empty milk carton stares at me from beyond the laptop. Emails are climbing and my Todoist Karma rating is in need of some serious attention. Neither child is dressed and the laundry pile is once again mimicking Everest.
Welcome dear friends, to the school holidays. While I LOVE the flexibility to work my own hours and be home with the boys when term breaks, I will admit there are moments when I struggle with maintaining the balance. However there are a few tricks I've recently collected that might be of help to you, whether you work from home or not. Bear in mind, my kids are that bit older so if you are looking for suggestions to help with your toddlers, then these thoughts may not be for you.
1. Get up early. I try and wake at 6 to be at my computer at 6.30/7. Starting my work while the house is quiet allows me to get my head in the right frame of mind. My goal is to work til midday and then reconvene once the boys are in bed. That way the afternoons are free for playdates or boystuff.
2. Invest in books. I have slowly picked up maze books, dot to dot... make your own mobile or colouring books, aswell as encouraging the boys to practice their reading. I try to find anything that I think the boys will enjoy (not what I want them to like) while I try and stay focussed. When I'm satisfied that they have made some inroads and we have made it to 4pm, the kids are allowed some TV time. Screen time is usually 1-2 hours once a week when school is on. During the holidays they might get a bit more. They don't know that yet though ;)
3. Download some audio books. I have the Star Wars soundtrack that is always a winner. The boys play Lego and listen so quietly, and although I have to drown out R2D2 while I create content, it really captures the boys attention. Thanks George.
4. Get organised. I am often a bit of a last minute planner but this time I have managed to sort out our schedule a whole week in advance! This not only gives the kids something to look forward to but gives me confidence that I have looked after their needs.
5. Write a list. Our boys, especially our eldest, likes to be prepared for the days ahead. He's not great with spontaneous suggestions so I get him to write down the activities or tasks we decide upon together. This gives him ownership and (hopefully) a bigger tendency to achieve our goals. It also gets him to practice his spelling and writing. Cunning right?
6. Switch off. I'll be honest, this is always a work in progress for me. When I say I am taking the afternoon off to 'be' with the boys, I must ensure I stay focussed on being a Mum and leave all my online work til my allocated work time. It's all too easy to 'quickly check' emails, posts, stats, tweets, but what really matters is that you practice what you preach. Screen time is not real time and these boys of mine are growing up far too fast.
Have you got some fail safe options that work for your family? I'd love to hear them, so if you are happy to share, please leave me a comment or feel free to share this post if you think someone you know might find it of value.
If you are interested in getting the balance right between screen time and real time, I am presenting a workshop with my good friend Tara Howell this month on this very subject, here in Hobart and up north in Launceston. We'll be looking at how we can all benefit from social media and what to look out for to ensure a safe experience. Here's the link.