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!

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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

Day Three … Determind to Succeed, Obstinate?

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Day Three happened, just the write up didn’t!  So here it is!

Our two friends come chasing after us, Obstinate and Pliable…. my goodness this could be written about my children!

As we start off on our journey towards the great, others watch us, shocked at what we are doing, what we are trying to achieve.  They think with their best intententions that they need to rescue us, from what? From ourselves of course.  We can’t get to where we are aiming, we can’t reach the goal, the city, the promise, the dream.  We will end up hurting ourselves, we musn’t do it.  We shouldn’t do it.  Not you, you aren’t big enough, clever enough, smart enough, rich enough, brave enough…. fill in your own word.

Here they come, obstinate and pliable.  Obstinate has always been right, probably never listened long enough to hear the people saying that those words aren’t true.  And there, by his side (or hers!!) is pliable, maybe, in fact they are Mr and Mrs.  Pliable, always willing to go along, to say yes or no or maybe or whatever you want to hear or someone else tells them to say.  Obstinate doesn’t have to listen, they know you can’t make it because they are always right.  Pliable doesn’t bother to think whether you can, they just agree with obstinate.  So along they come chasing after you and your dream.  Sure enough Obstinate is bigger than you and your dreams.  Looming over, catching up and taking you over before you can even truly set out on the journey.  You can’t do it, the words echo round and meet up with those doubts of your own.  You look to Pliable, nodding in agreement, but your dreams shout out, YOU CAN!

Your choice right now to turn back, go back and wonder.  Or to wander.

J.R.R. Tolkein with his mind full of imagination said “Not all who wander are lost…” Not all who wonder are either.  Someone sent me a card with that quote on when we first started our life overseas.  Its true, so many times I have not seen clearly the road, or known the way ahead. But I have not been afraid to wander, through the fault filled language, through the panic over health, through the cultural faux pas… its actually fun to wander, normally more fun when you are reflecting than at the moment!

For the boys, what can they learn?  Well a wry smile on the eldest face let me know he recognised his over confident qualities.  He might never have described himself as obstinate before but he knew the cap fitted, well!  He could see the pig headed-ness of obstinate, the unfriendly forcefulness of insisting on being right, being first, being boss.  He saw the negative qualities probably because he had felt them.  But when is obstinate good?  That was more of a challenge to think of. 

Little Pilgrim was also obstinate, determined to press on, despite the arguments, the nagging doubts, the ‘wondering’.  Obstinate allows us to be focussed, to be single minded on what we believe even if no one else understands.  Obstinate allows the impossible to become possible, often in words we cannot explain…. it just is right to us because it is. 

Pliable decided to continue the journey, for once daring to stand up to Obstinate, daring for once to walk towards the things he had wondered about.  How brave, how freeing that must have felt.  To come out of the shadow and to walk, to wander.

The boys wrote down how the qualitites of Obstinate and Pliable were both positive and negative.  Great to reflect on how our qualities are not always negative but can be used for good as well if we choose to use them rightly.  So, the wandering continues, as does the wondering….

Day Four In a Puzzling Place

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the slough of despondency

Day four found us in the Slough of Despondency… the what????  I had loved this book so far because as I read it I only changed very few words as we went along.  The title for this one had me from the start… the what of how to explain that.  Okay, that’s the title boys lets read on and see if we can make it make sense!

Pliable is accompanying us, but as we begin to head towards the gate we discover ourselves in the slough… we begin to sink and can’t find our way out (great time for acting this bit out, with some squelching and some slurping and some sploooshing) Pliable discovers he isn’t that pliable because he is stuck, just like us, stuck in the mud.  The further we walk, the deeper we go, our toes, our ankles, our feet and through to our knees.  Are we ever going to get out?

Well Pliable does but decides this is not a good idea, if its this tough already he’s out of there.  So he gets out and leaves, back to the kingdom.  Little Pilgrim is despondent (see, I can use that word in context too and it does describe that emotion so well).  No way forward, no way back, just feeling like we are sinking deeper and deeper.

Living in a swamp area with ‘roads’ made of mud we could understand the physcial aspect of this part of the journey easily.  I will not quickly forget the day my foot got stuck in the mud road, as I pulled it out my flipflop broke and there I was, in the middle of the road, in many ways free but still affected by my moment in the mud.  My freedom had come at a cost and now I was faced with a new problem, a flipflopless foot (okay that word probably didn’t exist!) and the next step was still in the mire.  So I took it, the filthy mud road squelching between my bright pink nailed toes, the cold goo sticking to my foot, and on I walked.  One foot flipflopped one foot free.  The dripping traitor of the other flip flop in my hand!  The rest of the road was walked hobbling over the sharp stones, embarrassed, amused, aggravated but moving towards my house, the goal in sight.

Its easy to give up as we get that sinking feeling, for my boys to think of the times they’ve chosen to give up as soon as they have to put some effort in.  To stop where we are because the only way forward means more mess before we find another kind of freedom.  Financial, dreams, hopes, health, job, school…. whatever, we’ve all been there and probably will be again. 

Do you know the best thing though, I made it home, how great that fresh clean water felt as I watched that filthy mire filled mud wash away.  I don’t know I learnt my lesson, its part of life here, there will be more mud and more flimsy flip flops…. but I won’t give up this pilgrimage.  I hope the boys remember it might be easier to run backwards, but it feels way better to be closer to the gate and heading towards your dreams and destination.

Giving Up Technology…

Today Act #22 is about giving up technology, get off facebook, switch off the screens, unplug the computer (does anyone still have a computer), leave your phone behind.  

I know because facebook told me.   I opened my emails to read more and to read the ‘devotional/thought’ with today’s Act.  Okay, failed.  I wasn’t the only one to notice the irony of this.

I know a few friends who have given up facebook for Lent.  Who fast twitter or snapchat.  And yes I know I can waste a whole load of my time on any of my little social network things – instagram, pintrest, email and facebook and a coffee and I’m ready for the day!  But it also kind of gets on my nerves, in fact this focus on ‘bad’ in technology doesn’t just kind of get on my nerves, it REALLY gets on my nerves.

You see, living overseas I am connected to people all over the world.  I share their lives and they share my life through facebook, or a photo.  It was awesome to see photos of my aunt and uncle from Australia who I haven’t seen for over ten years on their holidays.  I was able to send an encouraging letter to my old pastor, who I haven’t seen for 18 years through email.  I chatted to a friend in Africa this morning and we laughed and encouraged and shared life with each other.  I had an email from a friend who needed prayer.  I read a blog from a friend who is facing a challenging time and could cry with her as I shared in her emotions.  I sent out facebook reminders to a group of youthworkers we are working with to remind them about training next week.  I also sat down with my family, talked, shared breakfast and laughed together.

Yesterday I met a guy who I heard on a podcast about a year ago.  He was sharing in a meeting about a vision his wife had that matched perfectly something God had showed me.  He asked me to facebook her and so I did and was able to share the encouragement of her prayer and vision and for her to know how perfect it was.  She is someone I have never met, very well may never meet.  I have ‘bonded’ with her over facebook.  I have been inconvienienced by my friends through social media and technology, seriously has no one ever messaged you and asked you to do something?  In fact many of my relationships are held together, deepened, strengthened by technology.

IT IS NOT SUCH AN EVIL!  Oh I must fast facebook because it takes too much of my time, no it’s my choice how much time it takes, I just need to learn to be more self disciplined.  Before facebook it was too much tv, before tv it was probably embroidery or something….  there has always been things that take our focus, take our time.  That is life.  A balance. 

I will not fast facebook or technology because I THINK IT IS WONDERFUL!  It is INCREDIBLE, AMAZING and i am sooooooo grateful for all the people who are my ‘friends’ real and cyber world, who link with me and share my life and if you are reading this you are one of them!!! 

Move on, catch up and don’t be so culturally closed that you don’t see this incredible tool for the world to communicate and stay connected.  Not all of us have the option to nip to Starbucks to share a latte, but next time I’m in your country, inbox me or SMS me and I’ll be sure to meet you for a drink.