So, you’ve sent the office staff home. And, the schools have sent their children home. How do they (and your construction contracting business) cope?
As a professional business owner as well as a second-generation homeschooling family, we offer some ideas that have worked for us.
Remind yourself and your employees there are not likely to be any perfect solutions. Things will happen. Plans will go awry. Interruptions will . . . well, you know, interruptions will interrupt.
Now is the time to show mercy on your staff, other business professionals, your children, and yourself.
Find a workable solution
We know of a gal who works in the office of a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her job typically has her going to work at an early morning hour. Therefore, she goes to bed early. She missed the decree concerning the closing of all Las Vegas casinos because she was asleep. The first thing the next morning, she got up, dressed for work, and hurried off to spend her day at her desk.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. This lady now knows she still has her job, but her duties will be carried out at home. She is trying to make the best of this unexpected happenstance. Her solution is to continue working the same hours she usually does (including the one-hour break for lunch) while using a different desk. She still dresses as if headed to the office, still takes her regular breaks, and is trying to figure out what to do during that scheduled lunch break.
If she had children, she would have other, more pressing issues to resolve than what to do during one mid-day hour.
Solutions through boundaries
Determining boundaries and ways to enforce them is crucial. Just as the children are flung into a situation for which they’re likely ill-prepared, so are the adults who depend on a certain schedule and familiar routines.
Communication is essential. Gathering the family and having a “this is where we are” discussion is an excellent way to start. How much information is shared depends on the age and maturity level of each child. Here are a few boundary setting tactics to consider.
Tell children they can interrupt you – if and only if the house is burning down! Of course, they probably won’t remember, so being diligent in enforcing the rule will take stamina.
Lock your “office” door during critical meetings or other important times.
Reassure the kiddos you will be available at specific times. A few times to consider are:
- Lunch breaks
- The last ten minutes of every hour
- Thirty minutes at such and such time
- Whatever timeslots work best for each household
Assign new chores and tasks. Some things to consider are:
- Cleansing indoor and outdoor handles as well as the button for the doorbell
- Doing their own or all the laundry
- Watering indoor plants
- Loading and unloading the dishwasher
- Taking care of the floors
- Dusting (including ceiling fan blades)
- Helping or taking charge of preparing some meals
Use limited “screen time” or other desired pastime as a reward for adhering to the new rules and boundaries. A word of warning! Don’t allow the screens to become de facto babysitters.
Stop working when the workday is done! Turn it off. Walk away. Be present with your family.
The adventure solution
Many adults and most children welcome the chance for an adventure. Treating this change in “the norm” as an adventure will ease tension. Just as when you travel to a foreign land, things are different now. And that is exciting!
Get the entire family involved in the planning for this adventure. When people, including kids, get a say in the preparation stage, they’re more likely to own it and take part in it.
The point is to have an attitude of adventure. If the perspective of the adults in the home is fear or anger, that is the reflection that will be seen in the children. And, that is a pot that boils easily.
Depending on the age of the children involved, the types of adventures can range from a “Little House on the Prairie” snowed in-type of exploit to reading and discussing such books as “Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert.”
The point is to show your children there is an adventure in the new setting. If you behave with fear or some other negative attitude, so will your children.
One adventure solution which works well with children of all ages is role play days. Here are some types to consider:
- French (or any other foreign language and land)
- Cartoon character
- Historical character
- Fairytale character
Encourage children to dress up in costumes found in the drawers and closets of your home. Remember the props. Hats, magnifying glasses, capes, binoculars, backpacks, wands, and Mickey Mouse ears all come to mind.
Set the stage and send them on their way.
An example of how we’ve used the Spy Adventure is to assign the kiddos the task of “spying out” all the cruddy things the “evil crud monster” has left in all the common areas and their rooms. They take pictures of the “sneaky crud piles.” Then, with their master spying compatriots, they do away with the crud piles, take new photos, and report to “home base” how they’ve thwarted the evil crud monster. (Yes, we unabashedly get the kiddos to clean the house by making it a fun adventure.)
Set up a card table with a jigsaw puzzle for family members to work on at their leisure.
Have family contests. For example, who can read the most books in a week?
If the schools have assigned schoolwork, make it part of the daily routine.
Consider assigning schoolwork yourself. Let each child choose a topic he or she is interested in and let them explore. Older siblings can help. Some tools they can use are books you have on hand, specific TV programs, or a computer with proper childproofed connections.
Use Zoom or some other face-to-face program to allow your children to meet with their family or friends at set dates and times.
Encourage the kids to learn to play an instrument. One of our kiddos got her ukulele basics with this online instructor, The Ukulele Teacher.
Bonus tip: One tactic we learned early on is to stop play or other activities before the children are ready to stop. It sounds weird, but it works. If the kiddos are allowed to play until they’re bored with an activity, it will be hard to get them to return at another time. But, if they remember an activity was fun, they’ll be eager to get back to it when they get another chance.
Keep working on it
We hope these ideas will be of help to you and your construction business employees. While we haven’t covered every option for parents trying to make the best of the situation, we believe this will be a good start. The two main points we wish to convey are, 1) maintain an upbeat attitude and 2) take time to plan with and for the kiddos.
And remember, your children may scribble on your walls, but they paint masterpieces on your heart.
We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction subcontractor through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers.
The Profit Constructors Provide Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.
So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735