How to Find Balance When You Work From Home and Your Kids Learn From Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work for everyone including independent contractors. Here’s how to get things done when there are even more things on your plate.

Working as an independent contractor can sometimes feel like a juggling act. 

Normally, you might thrive on fielding a host of tasks. But add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and you suddenly have your kids joining you in the work-from-home life… Now you’ve got a lot more balls, pins, or firesticks—whatever juggling metaphor you choose—to keep in the air.

If back-to-school for your family this fall has looked like remote learning, then finding balance between doing your work, helping your kids stay on task, running a household, and finding time to relax can be tricky—to say the least. We’ve come up with a list of ways to help make your juggling act a little less complicated. 

Block schedule your time

Technology is meant to help us multitask and get more done. But research shows that multitasking actually slows us down and wastes time.

If you’ve got kids at home, especially young ones, likely you’ll have to do some multitasking to help them with their at-home schooling. But trying to do too many things at once will leave you feeling frustrated. 

One way to counteract the stress is to schedule chunks of time to get things done. Maybe your kids are highly engaged on their own for specific time slots during the day. Use those times to tackle your work to-do’s that require the most focus. Other tasks, like answering quick emails or sending invoices should be done during times when you know you’ll face more interruptions. 

Accept that you might get less done

You may be experiencing heightened anxiety or stress this year for a number of reasons, but we can look at the pandemic as a big example. One study shows that stress levels for nearly half of parents with children under 18 are high as a result of COVID-19’s impact on lives. 

A change in mental health can also hinder your ability to focus, making all the multitasking even harder. If you’re experiencing difficulty, cut yourself some slack—because you’re not alone. Another study showed that 40 percent of people are feeling less productive because of the pandemic. 

You may simply need more time to get tasks done. And finding the time can be tricky. 

If you’re providing quotes for clients on future projects, try to account for those extra hours. And if you get behind on work, avoid feeling frustrated with yourself. You’re doing your best, and that’s all you can do!

Embrace outsourcing

Everything we do to manage our households takes up time. Grocery shopping, cooking dinner, mowing the lawn, filling prescriptions, etc. – it all adds up!

In light of the pandemic, most businesses have found ways to bring goods and services to your front door. Although some cities have reopened to a degree, delivery and curbside options are still available and a great time saver. If you can skip time in the store, why not take advantage of it? 

That doesn’t mean you have to outsource everything and order takeout all week! That would be hard on the budget. But if you need to free up an extra hour for work one day, skip the time in the kitchen. Or if distance learning is derailing your independent contractor schedule, see if there’s a “pandemic pod” for your kids to join.

Find balance with non-negotiable self-care 

You can’t be busy all the time. It’s unsustainable. Non-negotiable self-care involves something you do each day to clear your head and relax. Your self-care could look like going for a morning run, taking a long walk with the dog, getting in a Zoom yoga class before dinner, or reading for 30 minutes before bed.

Whatever this to do is, it’s just for you—and maybe the pup. Let everyone in the family know about it so they can help you make it happen. Encourage your family members to do the same for themselves too! 

While a non-negotiable should indeed be non-negotiable, you may find times where your stress level will benefit from skipping this thing to get something off your plate. Just don’t make the swap a habit. Focusing on self-care, even if it’s just for a short time each day, will ease your stress level when it comes to crossing off everything else on your to do list.