Working from home and balancing life

As many schools and workplaces around the country remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working parents are faced with an extremely challenging question: How do you work from home with kids who can’t go to school or participate in other activities that would typically fill their time?

There’s no easy answer, and even parents who normally work from home have encountered a range of obstacles and frustrations these past few months. You’re likely facing plenty of unexpected interruptions, from your dog barking to a child crying. You may also be struggling to create needed structure for your children and for yourself. And almost everyone is feeling a lack of work-life balance as homes transform into home offices. If you’ve been feeling the stress, keep reading for tips on working from home.

Leave your expectations at the front door

Adjusting to a new work routine or environment is always a challenge. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration if you expect to work as many hours or accomplish as many tasks while working from home with kids as you would in the office. Instead, create a list of priorities for the day or week to ensure that you complete the most essential tasks. Congratulate yourself when you get one done — and forgive yourself when you don’t. It will still be on the list tomorrow.

The same is true for your kids. They might be feeling scared or upset by the loss of so many normal summertime activities. Ask yourself whether the expectations you typically hold for them around screen time or homework time, for example, are as useful and reasonable right now, or if you might all be happier if you relax those expectations temporarily.

Work together with your kids to set new expectations about how they spend their time during the day. For example, kids might be asked to spend a certain amount of time each day reading, creating, cleaning, or being active. This is also a great time to set boundaries for when and how they can interact with you while you’re working.

Maximize your productivity at home

Once you’ve reset expectations with your family, it’s time to create new materials and systems to help you boost daily productivity. Adobe Acrobat can help by letting you try our new online services for free. Start by creating a PDF that lists the expectations you set together. Consider printing the PDF document and posting it in a central location within your home where everyone in the family can see those expectations each day.

While some families may feel comfortable having kids choose from a menu of activities to fill unstructured time, others may find creating a clear schedule works better for both parents and kids. You can create and print a daily menu of must-do and may-do activities or a weekly schedule that clearly outlines activities, chores, meals, and playtime. You could also post a schedule outside your “home office” that indicates blocks of time when you can be interrupted and times when you should not be disturbed. Putting these tools and systems in place can help ensure you accomplish what you need to and still have time to spend with family.

Give yourself a break

Many of us struggled to draw clear boundaries between work time and home time even before COVID-19. Now it has even harder as we’ve been forced to merge our personal and professional spaces. Working from home gives you more time to spend with family, so make sure you carve out time for reading, playing, cooking, going outside, or doing any other activities you and your family enjoys. If you find you’re having a hard time disconnecting from work, try scheduling periods of downtime into your family’s new daily structure. Even better, ask family members to hold you to these free times until they’re a natural part of your life.

Even though COVID-19 has brought unprecedented new challenges, it has also brought new opportunities for working, learning, and growing together. Feel free to try the full suite of Acrobat online services to get more done at home. Create PDFs from other file formats, compress PDFs before sharing them, and collaborate seamlessly with others. And if you need to accomplish even more working from home, take advantage of the free, seven-day Adobe Acrobat Pro DC trial.