Tips for Working from Home – with Children

I am a tutor, lecturer, work on social media and mum to four children ranging from 4-17, all in education – or not now.  Having homeschooled in the past this doesn’t worry me (see other posts) but I appreciate the challenge of working with children around.  I am not an expert but here are a few tips.

  1. Be kind to yourself – your idea of being a superhuman and working at full capacity, achieving all your targets, getting employee of the month and having any sanity probably aren’t going to happen.  That’s okay!  Your personal work expectations may need to change down, they may be barely clinging on but adding your own high standards isn’t going to help anybody.
  2. Be realistic – where can you work? When can you work? How can you work? For now it might mean getting up an hour earlier to get some undisturbed time or working in the evening when little ones have gone to bed.  Do you have a space that you can limit interruption (don’t expect to avoid them altogether)?  Try to find a little place, where you can have work things, where you can put work things away and that gives you a different environment.  Even a tray with a pot of pens, plant and some paper gives you a little different space!
  3. Back to those interruptions…. How can you work?  Do you need the computer and internet at the same time as someone else is being expected to use it?  This is a great space for teaching your child negotiation skills!  If you are on ‘conference calls’ explain to people that you have children there – they may not understand and it may not be your ultimate professional dream life but right now it is reality.
  4. Prioritise – I love lists and having a clear pattern of what needs to be done and giving yourself that satisfaction of being able to tick things off is a great motivator on days where you feel like you’ve done nothing but answer a thousand questions, tidied the house, cook meals, stopped a hundred squabbles and been interrupted a billion times… is that just my house?  No financial interest to me but https://crossbowprintables.com/ has the most amazing organisers, planners and even just list sheets.  I make lists of lists I need to make just to tick things off!
  5. Wearing different hats is hard, it’s hard for you but it’s also hard for others who might not realise you are wearing a different hat.  Apart from physically wearing a hat or a badge to say what role you are in at any given minute just be aware that for now it might mean leaving something ‘really’ important to be present with someone who needs you.
  6. Interruptions – it makes life more stressful to be swapping and changing but ultimately we are here to be care providers for our family, to show them love, to protect them, the comfort them, to help them.  That interruption may just be the 20th request for juice that is sitting on the side this minute but it might really be about a little person who wants your attention because they are unsure right now.  It might be a strop that is really saying “I don’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t feel right inside” or it might be another argument because I miss seeing my friends, my family, my club, my world.  In ten years you probably won’t care you finished that email.
  7. I need to go, my own advice is pretty good, it’s much easier to read and write than to live.  Lots of us are in this situation – so be generous when you don’t get an email or report back straight away, be caring when you haven’t heard from a colleague and get dressed every day!

    design desk display eyewear

    Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Underground, Overground – learning from a wombat

I foolishly responded to someone who asked where in the bible it talks about taking in refugees…. their point was it wasn’t a biblical principal.  I disagreed and still do!

As I answered their question directly to me, I shared verses from the Old Testament, New Testament, Jesus’ own words and the fact that He was a refugee both in terms of the Divine and Human.  I then came across this article about wombats who have been found to have taken in and allowed other creatures into their tunnels and homes during the devastating wildfires.  The reporter states she hasn’t found one single burnt wombat but in the rescue effort has seen many other species coming from their tunnels.

I think the bible has plenty for us in terms of hospitality, care and compassion but even if you don’t want to go there all of nature tells us the same – it didn’t hurt one single wombat but saved many others.

Be more wombat!

Screenshot 2020-01-17 at 15.59.50

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Hands up I am a Liverpool fan (and not just because they are amazing right now).  But even just as a person I found the video of Bobby Firminio’s baptism so moving.  There was so much about it.

I loved Alisson Becker (Liverpool’s goalkeeper) standing beside his friend and team mate, the joy you could see in his expressions and the sense that he used those safe hands to baptise his friend.  Probably lots in their about hands of salvation!  He isn’t just a goalkeeper but a lot more, he didn’t just say that’s not my job but had jumped in the pool and was doing something amazing.

I loved that Bobby was surrounded by his friends and family, his first hug of his wife, right there with him sharing this experience.  Family is so important and whether that is who we were born to or who we have adopted into those roles doesn’t matter, it’s those precious people who are part of us.

Colleagues, team, family, friends gathered together because our faith walk is not alone although the choices we make are.  Looking at the comments on his Instagram were fans, supporters, those he’d never met and some BIG names in football and media celebrating this day and decision with him.  I may not have quite such sparkly names and faces around me but I am so grateful for those who walk with me – even when I have felt alone it’s good to remember I am not.   Roberto Firminio Baptism

Baby Shark Nativity Style!

Nativity Hark – Baby Shark Christmas story CLICK HERE!!!

I was challenged at work to lead devotions to Baby Shark…. not sure I will use this in that exact setting but going to use it with the children’s work and home!

We made a really simple nativity story to Baby Shark, that annoying song that the little ones love.  It obviously isn’t complete and my theological colleagues may question some of the story – but hey!  It’s memorable, simple and keeps Jesus in Christmas!

So in case you need the words –

Hello Mary (wave hand)

Hello Joe (wave other hand)

Donkey ride (donkey ears and then ride the donkey)

There’s no room (wag finger) – we added no,no,no,no,no for this instead of the do’s

Baby’s born (rocking baby)

Shepherd’s here (thumbs to self)

Wise men’s star (twinkle star hands)

Christmas time (jump and pull those shapes!)

Not the end… (clap)

My 10 year old said “But it is the end.” Which gave me a great chance to share that Jesus being born was not the end, we are all part of God’s great big story.

Hope it’s useful or doesn’t drive you too mad!Nativity Hark – Christmas Baby Shark

Being a Youthworker and Mum

I had my first child in the middle of my degree course, I guess you could say he was born into youthwork.  My second son was almost ready to hatch at my graduation so he’d heard the lectures and been present as my heart rushed and raced towards deadlines and dissertation.  They sat in the youthclub, had no need for toys as they had non-stop entertainers during youth meetings and bible studies and heard the latest tunes rather than lullabies.  It seemed forever away to consider that one day these little ones would be under my care as a youthworker.

I heard the jokes about how, with my youthworker husband, we were set up to sail through the teenage years, I knew too much about development to believe that.  As they grew up they changed to be the advisors on a great Youtube clip or allowing me to play Fortnite for my undefeated title with a Victory Royale!  Joined by two younger sisters, a tweenager and a toddler I don’t need to read too many books on growing pains as I live with it at some stage or another.

I love being a mum, most times I love being a youthworker but the balance, the challenges, the trials of knowing too much, ethical dilemmas and theories into practice make for some interesting thinking.  As a lecturer, I get to share my experiences, often those based at home, with other youthworkers.  So often I have seen that youthwork posts are expected to be filled by a certain young, cool, extrovert stereotype and people have said you can’t be a youthworker all your life.  Yet I have seen some amazing third age youthworkers, I see some brilliant young youthworkers, I see experience adding and creating different relationships and inexperience creating innovation and daring within professional boundaries.

vincent donovan

As with all things, we are unique, we bring who we are to walk alongside young people.  No matter what stage we are at in life I think Donovan’s quote holds they key.  So I accept the challenge of being a youthworker mum….. most of the time.