“How long until this is over?”
This was the question my 8-year old asked us at the end of the first full day of our:
Family not having any guests over
Not playing with friends
Not going to sit down and eat out at the local restaurant
Or going to school
And just us having been a family unit for 24 hours!
Now it has been over 24/7 and things are getting mightily interesting.
Can you feel the squeeze just yet?
I can honestly say we’ve been in this lifestyle my entire career since the kids came along, so it’s still tricky but completely doable, and actually really so wonderful.
If you have never worked full-time from home, and now are assigned to, your life has just been shifted like the 5.7 earthquake that threw us from our beds this past Wednesday in Utah (we are fine, but wow).
(As if the virus fears aren’t concerning enough, just throw a little day of earthquakes in the middle of it…we were waiting for a swarm of locusts to come get us next!)
And if you have kids no longer attending school for 7 hours outside the home as well, trying to keep your work and home life together is a huge challenge.
So, here’s my 10 Step Strategy to (at least attempt to) avoid the Family Feud:
- Hold a Family Sunday Meeting to Plan Your Week – The kids actually really like this. Establishing family goals, making promises, it all comes together in this meeting. Make sure the kids outline their commitments and have them displayed in the kitchen in their handwriting.
- Daily: Hold 3 Brief 5-10 min. Meetings –
- Morning: Teach your children the best way to start a successful morning with family prayer, meal, meditation, thought for the day, and commit to the goals for the next few hours
- Noon: Lunchtime and a reconvening of how the morning went, a return & report, discussion regarding schoolwork, resolve any issues, establish what happens the rest of the day
- Bedtime: This final meeting of the day is simply a chance to watch a movie, reflect on the day, and determine what needs to get done tomorrow
- Work & Focus Stations – No matter the age of your children, establishing work stations for them is essential. Help them realize sitting at a certain spot means focus for an agreed upon amount of time. Kids enjoy this structure when they are celebrated for doing well with it. It will take some training, but soon they will want to go to their special place to read, write, draw, play, and having these zones throughout the house makes a world of difference in productivity and your sanity.
- Tools – Making sure your children have the tools for online learning linked up with their school is essential, just as the younger children have active engagement with an older sibling reading to them or a parent guiding their efforts. As you train them to do much without your help every second, you will be able to leave them to working on their projects, chores, assignments, and what they like doing.
- Roles & Goals – While I work in my home office my wife works with the children keeping them on track for the day while she does her household activities. Equally, when she needs to come in the office and do her daily work, I switch with her and now take over the children’s needs, usually homework questions they have left over or projects to finish. My wife makes food, I clean it up. I do Zoom calls with clients, she keeps the house quiet. She shops for food, I carry it in. When we know the Roles & Goals in the house, and keep The Promise to one another, we work much better as a Team.
- Commit to Waking Up Early – If you are suddenly stunned by how little you get done in a day working from home, realize the importance of waking up earlier than everyone else. Get your work-out in early, have quiet time for yourself, and then equally commit to going to bed early in agreement the family will do the same. But you must lead by example.
- Commit to Ending Your Work Day – We are talking about a Hard Stop. You can easily fall into the trap of becoming a “work every second” parent / spouse, even just as an escape from the reality of your home feeling like you need to work to feel productive. Instead, shoot for 4 or 5 PM as the END of your work day, close the office door, leave the phone there plugged in, and BE WITH YOUR FAMILY. And start a puzzle, do a craft, dig into the scrapbook bin that’s been waiting for years.
- Family Outing – By the end of the work day, your family (if they have been doing schoolwork, chores or projects all day), will most likely be stir-crazy. Go for a hike. Simply walk outside. Throw the frisbee or shoot baskets after a bike ride. Get sunlight before the sun sets. Even the children that want to just be on their devices at this time will appreciate the family together time outdoors.
- Screen Time – Don’t feel too guilty that your Apple screen-time Sunday report went up, that is just the nature of this current beast. However, take special account of what you’re doing when on the screen – if posting positive social media posts, comments on friend’s articles, writing your blog, or designing your new web site, then that’s awesome! But if you’re scrolling social media all day, reading every news outlet, and getting too sucked in, remember your children see what you’re doing and won’t respect you telling them to turn the devices off when you’re out of control.
- Be Flexible – We had our Sunday evening meeting, everyone committed to the Plan, we put it on the wall in the kitchen, and by Monday morning no one was awake before 11 AM… That could have been enough to upend the week. Instead, we realize it’s ok to mess up, start again, try to not be harsh or judgmental, and begin again. Monday afternoon we had a meeting, re-established our intentions and acknowledged what we missed, and it turned out to be one of the best days of the week.
Below are a few of the photos and videos from the week.
If you keep up with my articles you know I’m quite vulnerable already…well I think I’m taking it to a new level with some of my posts and videos lately.
I just hope it helps you realize we’re all in this together!
The 10 Step Strategy above is by no means a fail-safe for everyone. Not every family makeup is like ours, and with 6 of us in the home, Daddy as an entrepreneur, we have many moving parts.
If you are the care-giver of a parent or spouse, a single parent home, or perhaps unemployed, dealing with illness, there are still many variations to what has been listed above that can work for you as you creatively come up with your solutions.
They become Your Promises.
I am sharing what we are trying to do. It doesn’t always work, but it’s about 80/20. To us that’s amazing success.
At this time of uncertainty know that I also feel your pain. Having just lost every event scheduled until September I literally have zero income coming in until then.
I’d say that’s scary.
But at the same time, I know this is a wonderful time to work toward what’s next for our family. So that’s exciting to me.
Being a Full-Time Keynote Speaker is the Dream Job for many people, but in this current economy and world order, if you have a salary or hourly employment, I hope you feel really blessed.
That isn’t to make you feel bad for me, I’m just telling you that everyone has a different situation and we’re all in this together.
I’d love to know what is working for you, and perhaps next week I’ll share more of what has worked for us, or what hasn’t. But I hope this helps you, as it’s my Promise to My Family to do this, and my Promise to you to deliver thoughtful, helpful content.
Prayers are with you. Seriously, I pray for you, and hope you feel comfort that more people than you realize are wishing the best for you.
Leadership Expert * Author * Speaker Hall of Fame
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