The sudden shift in approach to life arrived swiftly. Many in the world went from the comfort and routine of going to work each day to suddenly finding themselves balancing everyday work projects with feeding kids, cleaning house and homeschooling children. This is not what the majority of working parents signed up for. The eight to ten hours a day spent solely focused on moving work forward, checking off to-do lists or creating new projects overnight evolved into a carousel of screaming little ones and cooking lunch and conference calls. How did we get here? Even still, what do we do now that we are here? 

Those thoughts of confusion and feelings of overwhelming discomfort are not your’s  alone. Thousands across the world are learning this new approach to life. Owners, leaders and managers are quickly learning how to use technology to stay in touch with their teams remotely. People who have never desired working from home now find themselves learning a new way of moving, thinking and functioning. All of this change with absolutely no time to prepare. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many figures stated that around 29-35% of American workers worked remotely. Needless to say, this number has substantially increased over the past few weeks. This is a revolutionary occurrence that will not only shift the future of work but will also leave scars of misunderstanding for those struggling with how to navigate the waters of work from home life. 

There is a way to not only survive this season of change but to actually thrive. This change in everyday function also brings with it opportunity for innovation, creativity and expansion. So as you swim through the waters of spilt cereal and digital reports, let’s explore the 5 must have tools for parents working from home. 

Designate your workspace. The single most challenging element to being a parent working from home is space. Physically, emotionally and mentally. Kids are wonderful creatures but they are demanding, needy, need hugged, snuggled and taken care of. To thrive in a work from home environment you must be prepared to designate a workspace that provides you with protected time and space from the adventure of children. Clear this space of anything that could distract you from the job at hand. No folding laundry, checking out day time TV, ironing or side projects that might be staring you in the face. This season of remote work doesn’t entitle you to replace paid work with house work. Clear a desk, empty a room and get organized. This is a season of empowerment and designated workspace will allow you to do just that. 

Own a pair of quality headphones. Headphones? Yes. Little ones are some of the most fun people to be around, unless you are trying to focus and get work done. Quality headphones will not only make that new release from your favorite artist sound better, it will also cancel out most noise around and allow you to focus on what needs done. You will be amazed how much more concentrated your time will be when you don’t hear little Sarah screaming ‘MOM!!!! Davey pinched me’ every thirty seconds. Order a set of quality headphones, download some new tunes and you will be well on your way to crushing that project your boss just sent. 

Hang a white board. Notebooks are great. I’m a sucker for buying new pens. But there’s nothing like being able to stand with a whiteboard, scribble thoughts and work through the challenges at hand. Each night write your project list for the next day on your white board. Get it off your mind so you can rest and know that tomorrow you can start exactly where you are meant. Writing your thoughts and project lists on a white board allows your thoughts and direction to be visual and in front of you throughout the day. Check projects off the list as you complete them and move to the next. Your white board will become your best friend as you set out to navigate the waters of working from home. 

Download a timer app. There are quite a few great timer apps around that will empower your time and keep you disciplined in your work. Set a 45-minute timer and do not stop working until the timer says. Allow this structure to empower your thoughts and effort. After your 45-minute work sprint is complete set a 15-minute break timer. Using a timer removes all of the guesswork and doubt of how to stay organized throughout your day. Download a timer app and give power to your day. 

Surround yourself with support. You have already made sure everyone knows how wonderful your families are. You have shown them pictures of the kids and vacations and birthday parties. Everyone gets it. Your kids are awesome! But even you need a break every once in a while. Especially now that you are bringing your work home, setting new boundaries and making sure your world keeps moving forward through this season of change. Let’s be honest, you can’t do this alone. You will need a break or date night or time to workout and relieve stress. You need balance and you can only find that balance through support. Make sure you have others available to hold you accountable and to step in when it’s time for a break. You must give to yourself so you have plenty to give to others. Surround yourself with support so that during this season of transition you thrive.