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If you’ve decided to keep your child at home this fall for school or at least for part of the school year you may be surprised by their learning habits. Children learn differently – some like music while others need silence; some kids need a lot of space to spread out and work through the homework, and others like to be curled up in a ball to read. Creating a comfortable work from home space isn’t hard if you think ahead.
Additionally, you may be working from home and may need a temporary work station to get your work done. For me, I’ve been using our dining room as my office, but after sitting in those chairs for 8 hours for 4 months, I’m realizing that I need a better solution.
Why you can’t just sit anywhere
Your body, back, spine, core, legs, and chest are all at risk if you have bad posture, poor back support, or just cannot work in a comfortable environment. We need optimal spaces with good ergonomics to work as we’re sitting at our desks for hours at a time. And, your child needs the same thing. A bean bag chair can only work for so long when they have to really focus on work.
Work life balance is becoming harder and harder, especially when your work space is right smack dab in the middle of your apartment or house.
The art of creating a comfortable work from home space
There is an art to designing and creating the perfect working space for you and for your children. I’ve listed a few things for you to consider no matter what age your child is so that it’s easy for you to get ready for back to school this fall.
1. Assess your needs
If your child needs to be supervised and watched throughout the day, consider only the spaces where you’ll have enough room for all of you. I like to have enough space where I can encourage my son to play independently while still keeping half an eye on him and being in close distance should a scream erupt! If you have older children, perhaps they’d like to have their own space and need certain elements (room to stretch out, extra supplies like a printer, or like to be near or away from noise and distractions). By listing all of the requirements for a space you can hopefully knock out some options and identify better spaces.
2. Collect or purchase items to bring to the space
Start with the workspace and see what you can use in that room. If you decide to use the dining room table, maybe you can remove the decoration and dishes and add some supportive pillows to the chairs for extra support. Have a game room playroom? You can pull together the ottomans for a reading nook and hide the games and distractions in a cubby or bookshelf.
If each child is working in their rooms, clean out any extra clutter, clothes on the floors (for the teenagers), and toys to clean the space and make room for learning. Working in your master bedroom, a side desk that you can go to and step away from for breaks makes a perfect space to separate work and the rest of your life. Start with what you have around the house. If you need to purchase a few items, these are some that we have in our home to create the workspace we made.
Adding in extra storage may be necessary. When clearing out and making room for work and school, you may have items you’ll have to put away so that there is enough space for everything that you need.
3. Connect to technology
Setting up a local printer and finding all your headsets for those Zoom calls are important. It helps that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute before a meeting or add that extra stress to your child’s assignment when these things aren’t ready to go. I like to keep a few extra headsets on my workspace so that my son can dial into his classes and I can hop on a call quickly. Also, make sure you test out the technology before hand – nothing ruins a whole day like not being able to get onto the right calls at the right time for you or your child.
4. Make it nice and inviting
Don’t forget to decorate your space and have fun with it! Good lighting and a great backdrop will help you look your best for calls with your colleagues. Your children can also help decorate the space with their own art or favorite posters. We like to have a paint party at our house some afternoons, so we hung an art wall and rotate the pictures out each week. Indoor plants and music will help to make your comfortable work from home space welcoming as well.
5. Try to create some separation
I know it’s not easy when you work and live at home. Adding in the fact that we can’t go to as many places as we could before quarantine started and that makes our homes everything – work space, relax space, play space, jungle gyms, movie theaters, everything! If possible, try to separate your work from your life. It’s so important that you don’t work from your bed or couch if possible. You want to be able to really relax at the end of the day and turn work off, physically and mentally. Designating a specific space sets boundaries for yourself, your children and for the whole family to know if you are working or not and to let your brain know too.